Crowley, Benishek Lead Bipartisan Push to Secure Funding for State Maritime Academies

Aug 5, 2015 Issues: In the Community

Over 40 Members of Congress Sign Letter Urging the Administration to Continue Funding for New Training Vessels

(Queens, NY and Traverse City, MI)  – Today, Reps. Joe Crowley (D-NY), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, and Dan Benishek (R-MI) announced a bipartisan effort to secure continued funding for State Maritime Academies in the President’s budget for FY2017. In a letter to the Department of Transportation and Office of Management and Budget, the members urged the administration to fund the design and replacement of aging training ships used by our nation’s six State Maritime Academies (SMAs) to train future mariners.

“Our State Maritime Academies, including SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx, are more than sources of pride for our nation – they play a crucial role in training the next generation of maritime leaders and in protecting our national security interests,” said Crowley. “We all pay the price when these critical institutions don’t have the resources they need, including up-to-date training ships.”

“There are many jobs available to those who have the right skills and training. That’s why these institutions are so important. Graduates from the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City go on to become ship captains and sailors all around the country. These are good-paying jobs that can support a family, and that is how we can turn our economy around,” said Dr. Benishek.   

The maritime industry is an essential part of our nation’s economy, in addition to playing a critical role in national security. Each year, the industry generates over $100 billion, employs 1.5 million Americans and pays tens of billions in wages and benefits. The United States has long maintained a strong maritime industry because of concerted investments in the sector, including in the nation’s six State Maritime Academies (SMAs) and the ships they use for training.

In December 2014, Crowley, Benishek, and 23 bipartisan members of Congress sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget urging the agencies to develop and support a plan to replace the aging ships used by our nation’s State Maritime Academies. In February, President Obama designated $5 million in his FY2016 budget to design and replace aging ships. The House Appropriations Committee included this important funding in its legislation to fund the Maritime Administration for FY2016 following a concerted effort by Crowley, Benishek and other members of Congress.

The letter can be found here.