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US Maritime Administration chief resigns post after Capitol riots

Agency’s head of strategic sealift will take helm next Wednesday

Buzby left in wake of Capitol riots. (Photo: U.S. Maritime Administration)

U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby left his position last week in the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Buzby was nominated to lead the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd), the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation responsible for the country’s waterborne transportation system, by President Donald Trump in 2017. He became the second leader within the department to resign as a result of the riots after DOT Secretary Elaine Chao resigned last week.

“I no longer believe that I am able to serve as a member of the administration while remaining true to the values which have been the core of my service to the people of our nation,” Buzby said in a statement.

Buzby’s immediate replacement is Douglas Burnett, the agency’s chief counsel. When most political appointees leave their positions on Inauguration Day next Wednesday, Burnett will be replaced by Kevin Tokarski, the agency’s associate administrator for strategic sealift, according to a memo sent to MarAd employees, until the Biden administration nominates a permanent replacement.

Strategic sealift is a core function of MarAd and includes both government-owned ships and access to a fleet of privately owned, commercially operated, U.S.-flag vessels and the civilian U.S.-citizen merchant mariners who crew them.

“Together, these vessels, mariners and networks share the mission of transporting equipment and supplies to deploy and sustain U.S. forces anytime and anywhere in support of national policy,” Buzby told lawmakers last year at a congressional hearing on U.S. sealift capacity.

However, “while U.S. strategic sealift continues to be an efficient and effective force for moving cargoes worldwide during peacetime, concerns remain about the ability of our nation to adequately project and sustain power globally while operating in a contested environment against a major adversary,” Buzby warned.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.