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Congressman Wittman on Carriers

December 12, 2011
More Aircraft Carriers Are Key To American Influence
(ROLL CALL 12 DEC 11) ... Rep. Rob Wittman
“Catastrophic.” That’s just one of the words used to describe the effects of the additional $600 billion in cuts set to strike our nation’s military, resulting from the abject failure of the 12-member super committee charged with shaping cuts in the federal budget as directed by the Budget Control Act.
The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction is becoming but a memory of another failed initiative in Washington. The effects of its failure, however, are enormous and won’t soon be forgotten. The lack of urgency in Congress is bitterly disappointing and, quite frankly, endangers the security of this nation.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in November, one of our nation’s highest military leaders, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, said “sequestration” would cause “irreversible damage” to our nation’s naval forces.
The U.S. Navy faces its smallest force since before World War I. Sequestration will cause irreparable damage to the Navy’s manpower and ship force structure. Aging ships in the fleet are already on overdue maintenance schedules, lacking the appropriate funding levels to conduct life-cycle maintenance and modernization work.
Without changes to sequestration, ships will be taken out of service before their scheduled decommissioning. What the United States will ultimately sacrifice here is presence and power projection. We will not have the assets to effectively project power and display a forward-deployed presence in regions of the world that demand our attention and oversight.
To retain the greatest Navy in the world, we need to maintain our fleet capabilities, or we will lose the ability to project power in the 21st century and our competitive edge at sea and in our industrial base. In order to retain this influence, we must increase our investment in shipbuilding, not cut it.
An iconic symbol of American freedom domestically and abroad and a potential item for the sequestration chopping block, the aircraft carrier could face detrimental cuts to her fleet and capability because of a flawed defense strategy driven by looming budget cuts. The Navy has 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in her fleet. While six remain deployed across the world, supporting operations, others are in rotation, utilized for training or remain in the shipyard for necessary maintenance.
In 50 years, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier has made history and shaped the world into what it is today. The USS Enterprise (CVN 65), the first of the 11 nuclear-powered carriers, has served during Vietnam, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Libya, Desert Shield/Storm, Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The aircraft carrier also symbolizes the industrial engine within the United States that will sputter if sequestration remains in its current form.
The construction of these great ships is supported through business and industry spanning 50 states and built by our greatest asset: the American people. They are designed, manufactured and engineered by the most skilled American tradesmen and craftsmen in our entire industrial workforce.
Some of the most skilled workers in the shipyard train for seven years to attain the proficiency necessary to build these nuclear-powered carriers. These carriers take five years to build, and if we do not move without interruption from completing one and beginning construction on the next, the American workforce cannot be maintained. The shipbuilding industrial base — those skilled workers — cannot stop and start work.
The men and women who build our ships will go to the back of an already long unemployment line, and those critical skills, that knowledge base and experience, will be lost as they seek employment elsewhere. That is not simply American job loss. It is a loss of critical national security capability.
Every aircraft carrier represents peace, prosperity, leadership and democracy, while standing ready and fully capable of being an instrument of warfare.
Since World War II, each crisis that threatened the national security interests of the United States has shown the need for an aircraft carrier to transport our men and women serving to protect freedom around the globe. The American aircraft carrier is the pinnacle of industrial engineering, ingenuity and genius; where mechanical, nuclear, aerospace and electrical engineering converge with naval architecture to form a magnificent 100,000-ton, 1,092-foot-long piece of America.
All this hard work by Americans — the years of designing, building, manufacturing and training — must not become a forgotten trade.
The super committee chose failure over making tough choices for the greater good of this country. Sequestration cuts threaten our national security capability to defend our nation and respond to conflict in the 21st century. Failure is an outcome we must not and cannot accept.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) is chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and co-chairman of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.

A Need for Naval Vision and Leadership

December 01, 2011
The following article appeared in the Washington Post on November 29th.
The Future of Naval Aviation: A Need for Vision and Leadership
By Senator Jim Webb
 From its humble origins with the A-1 Triad in 1911 to today’s futuristic X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator, the history of U.S. naval aviation reflects a century of achievement in peace and war.  Just three decades after the A-1 took to the skies, aircraft carriers emerged as the backbone of the modern fleet, a role that endures in today’s all nuclear-powered carrier force. 
 In addition to carrier aviation, Navy and Marine helicopters, vertical takeoff-and-landing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles have expanded sea-based aviation with their ability to deploy on surface combatant and amphibious force ships. Fewer but increasingly more capable shore-based maritime air patrol squadrons perform critical fleet- and national-intelligence support missions.
 Despite the heady accomplishments of 10 decades, all enabled by a proficient industrial base, naval aviation and the Navy’s fleet writ large face an uncertain future as Congress and the Department of Defense seek ways to reduce defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade.  
 The Navy’s watchword now is “all options are on the table,” including a delay in the construction of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier or the cancellation of a new carrier acquisition outright.
 As a maritime nation by virtue of geography, economic necessity, and global political commitments, we would be ill-advised to make additional reductions to our already greatly diminished naval force structure.  Today’s Navy of 284 deployable battle force ships—our smallest fleet since 1916—is maintaining a high operational tempo, with more than 50 percent deployed from their homeports on any given day.
 Today’s warships are exceptionally more capable than their predecessors, but greater numbers offer inherent advantages in their own right. As my Naval Academy classmate and former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jay Johnson was fond of saying, “Virtual presence is actual absence.”
 The fleet’s undiminished operational commitments are cause for concern.  The Navy is considering an extension of attack submarine deployments beyond their traditional six months because unified combatant commanders’ mission requirements have steadily increased. Aviation squadron and surface ship readiness continue their decline owing to under-resourced maintenance accounts.  Sailors in many ratings are spending more time on sea duty.   The strain on them and their families is real.  During the years ahead, we must not repeat the mistakes of the 1970s by placing unacceptably high burdens on their shoulders.
 My very strong view, formed over more than 40 years, is that our national security and vital interests around the world affirm the statutory requirement for 11 operational aircraft carriers and the need for a Navy of more than 300 ships. Time and again in far-distant oceans, they have demonstrated their great versatility as strategic assets with highly potent tactical applications.  The Navy-Marine Corps team’s ability to sustain our distant alliances and to dissuade, deter, or defeat those who threaten us is enormously well-suited for our nation’s 21st -century strategic requirements.
 As we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, we should reassess how our nation will address post-9/11 realities and international terrorism in ways that do not entail a large and expensive overseas ground presence.  We also must refocus our strategic priorities elsewhere, most notably in the vast reaches of the Pacific region.  We should reinvigorate our alliances with Japan and Korea, develop closer ties with the nations of Southeast Asia, and serve as a force for peace and stability in the face of China’s clear intention to expand its economic strength, military power, and territory.
The Navy has many important roles to play in this regard. With its mobility, flexibility, combined-arms strength, and relatively limited dependence on overseas bases, naval forces are well-postured to support our nation’s global national defense strategy and to execute their traditional mission of sustaining unfettered sea lines of communication. 
 During the height of our country’s worst economic crisis in 1933, we faced a similar challenge in deciding how to allocate limited resources for the nation’s defense.  Spurred by an executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, legislation sponsored by Congressman Carl Vinson and Senator Park Trammell ultimately led to a major eight-year naval building program totaling more than 100 ships. Their follow-on legislation expanded naval aviation acquisition programs during the late 1930s.  Obsolete ships were replaced with designs that proved their worth for decades to follow—long-term strategic investments in national security. 
 Historians note that that the landmark Vinson-Trammell Act helped to revive depressed U.S. industries and led to the long-term shipbuilding program that enabled the U.S. Navy to dominate the world’s oceans by 1945.   
 Similar vision and leadership are required today if we are to sustain that legacy for our maritime republic.

Diving Pioneer Lost to Maritime Community

December 01, 2011

Emsys Selected for Prestigious 3 Rig Contract

November 23, 2011

W R Systems, Ltd (WRSystems) have been awarded a prestigious contract to supply its cutting‐edge laser‐based Emsys Emissions Monitoring System (EMS) to a major offshore drilling contractor for three drilling ships/rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico.

The EMS will be incorporated into the vessel’s proprietary data management technology to provide compliance with each vessel’s EPA Air Permit requirements.

 It is understood Emsys was selected following a detailed evaluation of the current EMS technology.  The high accuracy, high reliability and minimal calibration requirements of the system made it the obvious choice.

WRSystems are also carrying out a significant Engineering Design Package to ensure the EMS system is properly integrated into each vessel’s sophisticated data network.

WRSystems has been working with the drilling contractor for over a year in preparation for these highly important projects. The recent change to the EPA Air Permit requirements in the Gulf of Mexico has required all drilling contractors to re‐evaluate their compliance strategies. The proprietary data acquisition technology utilised on these projects are highly unique and have been developed in partnership with engine manufacturers, turbocharger suppliers and WRSystems. The operating profiles of these vessels make standard emissions monitoring systems unsuitable for this highly complex monitoring application; therefore, the contractor sought to combine the best available technologies with their internally developed data system.

Speaking about the contract, Megan Jones, Emsys Program Manager explained, ‘We are thrilled to have secured these strategically important contracts. WRSystems has developed Emsys to be significantly different from the standard EMS offerings, and these contracts, combined with other recent successes, have justified the long term investment of the company in Emsys. Our customer was not looking for a product; they wanted a bespoke solution to their particular requirements, and a company that had a track record of delivering engineering solutions to the highest industry standards.'

President Signs Goverment Contractor Withholding Repeal

November 22, 2011

NOVEMBER 21, 2011

On Monday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Three Percent Withholding Repeal and Job Creation Act  (H.R. 674), which Congress sent him last week.

The act repeals a requirement that 3% of payments be withheld by the federal or state governments or their instrumentalities or subdivisions (including multistate agencies) to any person for services or property. The requirement had not yet gone into effect.

The act also creates returning heroes and wounded warriors work opportunity tax credits for employers who hire military veterans. These credits will be available for eligible individuals who begin work for the employer after November 21, 2011.

The act also amends the definition of modified adjusted gross income under Sec. 36B(d)(2), which determines eligibility for certain health care benefits and insurance coverage provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, P.L. 111-148. This change is effective November 21, 2011.

Finally, the act allows the IRS to impose a 100% levy against payment due to a vendor of property sold or leased to the federal government if the vendor has an unpaid federal tax liability.  Under previous law only vendors of goods or services were subject to the 100% levy. The act also directs the Treasury Department to conduct a study on tax compliance by vendors to the federal government.

The AICPA called on Congress to repeal the withholding provision, in letters sent in February and October calling it an undue burden for both governments and contractors and unnecessary given existing tools that already monitor contractors’ federal tax compliance.

Industry Loses a Veteran Leader - Carlos Agnese

November 17, 2011

Carlos Agnese, who started at NORSHIPCO in their apprentice school and worked his way over four decades to become an Executive Vice President, died Monday (11/14) while on a hunting trip to Colorado.  He will be missed by all of his friends in the Hampton Roads ship repair community.

Carlos Agnese obituary appeared today in the Virginian-Pilot.  A memorial service will be held Saturday, November 19th at the H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, Norfolk Chapel.

Maritime Minute ... 11/16/2011

November 16, 2011
GOVERNOR RICK PERRY STATES SUPPORT FOR JONES ACT:   The presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry said in a statement the Governor supports the Jones Act because the law bolsters national, economic and homeland security. "Rick Perry believes that America benefits from a vibrant domestic maritime industry, including vessel operators, shipyards, seafarers and mariners, on the coasts, in the Gulf, on the inland waters, and throughout the Great Lakes," the statement said. "Gov. Perry supports the Jones Act that makes the domestic maritime industry strong, contributes to national and homeland security, and makes an important economic contribution to our nation." Click here to read more.
LEXINGTON INSTITUTE REPORT SAYS JONES ACT VITAL TO NATIONAL SECURITY:  The Lexington Institute recently released a report, The Contribution Of The Jones Act To U.S. Security, which says the longstanding maritime law is vital to U.S. economic, homeland, and national security – serving the nation by maintaining a skilled merchant marine, shipbuilding capacity, and sea lift capability. "The greatest danger to the role and function of the United States as a seafaring nation is the decline of its maritime industry and merchant marine," the report says. "Commercial shipyards have made significant investments to modernize, and turn out high-quality vessels with advanced engineering. Moreover, tens of thousands of merchant mariners are at work every day as a consequence of the Jones Act. As a result, the nation retains the means to build and repair Navy vessels, and provide critical sea lift for the military." The report says U.S.-flagged merchant marine vessels most recently carried cargoes bound for Iraq and Afghanistan and delivered relief supplies to victims of natural disasters around the world. Click here to read more.
MEET A MEMBER:  Since 1919, Weeks Marine, Inc. (WMI) has grown into one of the leading marine construction and dredging organizations in the United States. WMI was recently ranked 86th on the "Engineering News-Record" 2011 top 400 contractors list, before the company’s latest acquisition. In July, WMI purchased McNally Construction, a Hamilton, Ontario-based marine contractor specializing in tunneling. McNally will operate independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary. WMI is a fully integrated marine construction company with a vast inventory of construction equipment – 500 cranes, tugs, dredges, barges, and other pieces of waterborne equipment – and highly-experienced management, field engineers, and equipment operators in all six of its divisions. From a humble beginning as a two crane stevedoring company, family-owned WMI can now be found on any given day dredging a ship channel in the Virgin Islands, performing a salvage operation in the Chesapeake Bay, driving piles in Texas, restoring barrier islands and wetlands in Louisiana, placing sand on a beach in Florida, or building a pier near the St. Lawrence channel.
American Maritime Partnership ("AMP") is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation‘s economic, national, and homeland security. More than 40,000 American vessels built in American shipyards and crewed by American mariners ply our waters 24/7, and this commerce sustains nearly 500,000 jobs, $29 billion in labor compensation, and more than $100 billion in annual economic output according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. So efficient are these vessels that they carry a quarter of the nation‘s cargo for only 2 percent of the national freight bill, and being American owned, built and crewed helps make America more secure.

NSRP Risk Management Panel Meeting Nov. 16-17, 2011

November 10, 2011

A Joint NSRP Health & Safety/Workman's Compensation Panel Session will be held Nov. 16-17, 2011 at the Courtyard Marriot in Norfolk, VA. The panel will be discussing the functions of providing and maintaining a physical plant capable of assembling, modifying and repairing ships in an efficient, safe, controllable and ecologically acceptable manner and, in doing so, reduce work-related injuries/illnesses and their associated costs. For registration information:


The Maritime Minute - 11/10/2011

November 10, 2011
SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES PROVISION TO IMPROVE JONES ACT WAIVER PROCESS:   The Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee approved on November 2, 2011 language in S. 1430, the Maritime Administration Act for Fiscal Year 2012, that would require the Maritime Administration to certify that it is not possible to "use a United States flag vessel or United States flag vessels collectively to meet national defense requirements" when issuing waivers of the navigation and vessel-inspection laws, e.g., Jones Act waivers.
This provision is a response to the oil release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) over the summer of 2011.  The Obama Administration waived the Jones Act nearly 50 times to allow foreign shipping companies to transport the oil released from the SPR.  The Jones Act requires the use of American vessels and American seafarers when moving cargo between two points in the United States.  In waiving the Jones Act, the Administration outsourced jobs to foreign vessels and foreign workers even though some 30 American vessels of various sizes were available to assist in the transportation of SPR oil.
S. 1430 would ensure transparency in the waiver process by requiring the Maritime Administration to certify why it is not using American vessels.  This change in law will help ensure that U.S. flag vessels are given appropriate consideration prior to the issuance of any waivers being granted.  The provision is strongly supported by the American Maritime Partnership, and Chairmen John Rockefeller (D-WV) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Ranking Members Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) are to be commended for their prompt action on this important issue.
NEWBUILD PROGRAM ANNOUNCED FOR 16 NEW U.S.-FLAG OFFSHORE SUPPLY VESSELS:  A major operator of U.S.-flag offshore supply vessels has approved a new vessel construction program that will lead to 16 vessels joining the Jones Act fleet in the next few years.  Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. based in Covington, La., is committing $720 million to build the vessels.  The first of the new hulls should enter service in 2013.  Another 16 vessels could be ordered if market conditions warrant.  Click here to read more.
American Maritime Partnership ("AMP") is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation‘s economic, national, and homeland security. More than 40,000 American vessels built in American shipyards and crewed by American mariners ply our waters 24/7, and this commerce sustains nearly 500,000 jobs, $29 billion in labor compensation, and more than $100 billion in annual economic output according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. So efficient are these vessels that they carry a quarter of the nation‘s cargo for only 2 percent of the national freight bill, and being American owned, built and crewed helps make America more secure.

The Maritime Minute - 10/31/2011

November 02, 2011
ESCOPETA FINED $15 MILLION FOR JONES ACT VIOLATION:   U.S. Customs and Border Protection fined Escopeta Oil Company $15 million for violating the Jones Act. The company transported a jack-up rig from Texas to Alaska using a foreign-flagged vessel. The rig is drilling in Alaska’s Cook Inlet and the fine will not affect operations. Click here to read more.
AMP CHAIRMAN JAMES HENRY RECEIVES THE 2011 ADMIRAL OF THE OCEAN SEA AWARD:  American Maritime Partnership Chairman James Henry received the 2011 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award (AOTOS) presented by the United Seaman’s Service at the 42nd annual industry gala dinner in New York City. The AOTOS Award is the most prestigious award given in the transportation and maritime industry, recognizing those who have made significant contributions to American shipping and to American and international seafarers. Henry has played a significant role in virtually every major initiative in United States maritime policy since he assumed the presidency of the Transportation Institute in 1987 and became its chairman in 1990. He played a particularly key role in protecting the Jones Act when it came under attack in the mid-1990s and during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Click here to read more.
NEW EAST RIVER FERRY SERVICE PROVING A SUCCESS IN NEW YORK CITY:  The New York Times reports that a ferry service begun in late June 2011, which transports passengers between Brooklyn and Manhattan across the East River, has been a huge success and is attracting twice as many passengers as anticipated. Policymakers see the ferry service as a way to create jobs and expand economic activity by attracting more developers to the river’s east bank. “The only major complaint I’ve heard is that people want more of it,” said Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which oversees the service. Click here to read more.
CARGO CARRIED BY U.S.-FLAG LAKES FLEET IS BIG JOBS GENERATOR:  Cargo hauled on the Great Lakes in U.S.-flag vessels is responsible for more than 103,000 jobs in the United States according to a new study released on October 18. The study, The Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, further determined that the value of economic output tied to U.S.-flag laker cargos topped $20 billion in 2010. Those cargos also generated federal, state, and local taxes totaling more than $2.2 billion. Indiana has the most jobs tied to cargo moved in Jones Act lakers with 39,903. Michigan follows with 23,485 and Ohio is close behind with 23,334 jobs. Totals by other states are: Wisconsin - 5,589; Illinois - 5,356; Minnesota - 4,309; Pennsylvania - 761; and New York -305. Click here to read more.
ORDER FOR NEW TANKERS WILL ADD 1,000-PLUS JOBS AT PHILADELPHIA SHIPYARD:  The construction of two new tankers to move Alaska North Slope crude oil to the West Coast will swell employment at Aker Philadelphia’s shipyard. More than 1,000 new hires will be needed to build the double-hull ships, each of which will be capable of hauling 730,000 barrels per trip. The keel will be laid for the first tanker in mid-2012 and both vessels should enter service in 2014.

American Maritime Partnership ("AMP") is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation‘s economic, national, and homeland security. More than 40,000 American vessels built in American shipyards and crewed by American mariners ply our waters 24/7, and this commerce sustains nearly 500,000 jobs, $29 billion in labor compensation, and more than $100 billion in annual economic output according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. So efficient are these vessels that they carry a quarter of the nation‘s cargo for only 2 percent of the national freight bill, and being American owned, built and crewed helps make America more secure.