Capitol Hill æSail-inÆ called success
The U.S. maritime industry called its first ever Capitol Hill 'Sail-in' a success.
The all-day event on May 13 was put together for the industry to collectively communicate to lawmakers the value of the U.S. maritime sector to the nation's economy and national defense.
Acting U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda initiated the event during a breakfast in the House Rayburn Building, which featured a keynote address delivered by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar. As many as 136 maritime industry participants then broke into groups of three and five each to meet with 124 lawmakers.
'We had folks from 20 states, 48 congressional districts, 28 companies, nine unions and labor organizations, and 10 related associations,' said Ret. Vice Adm. Albert J. Herberger, a former maritime administrator, in a statement. 'That's a powerful message to Congress.'
The Sail-in was organized earlier this year by the U.S. Maritime Coalition, a volunteer committee of U.S. maritime industry representatives, and traces its roots to the piracy events in the Gulf of Aden in April 2009.
'That was one of those moments when the general media spotlight was focused on our industry. We asked ourselves then how can we as an industry capitalize on this and put more attention on the important issues we face day to day,' Clint Eisenhauer, vice president of government relations for Maersk Inc., told American Shipper at the time of the Sail-in's announcement.
The industry's key message to the lawmakers included:
' More than 1.6 million Americans are employed in the U.S. maritime sector.
' Trillions of dollars worth of export, import and domestic cargo move through the nation's seaports and inland waterways daily.
' Eighty-five percent of war materials delivered to Afghanistan and Iraq have been handled by U.S. mariners sailing on U.S.-flag vessels.
' Eighty percent of U.S. humanitarian aid is delivered by the U.S. merchant marine.