The following is the text of a blog by Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen:
(WASHINGTON) — With the Panama Canal expansion slated for completion later this year and the industrywide boost in U.S. maritime activity that will likely follow, there is no question that 2016 will be a demanding year for the Maritime Administration (MarAd). While the course ahead will be full of new challenges, I wanted to highlight our agency’s 2015 accomplishments and reflect on the opportunities this year offers.
Calendar year 2015 was a truly one for the history books for our agency. I say that because 2015 was a year in which we literally helped make history! Last year, MarAd closed the Title XI Federal Loan Guarantee to support the launch of the world’s first LNG-powered containership — a development that will help us in our effort to support industry actions to minimize waterborne transportation’s environmental impact.
However, that's not all we were involved with. We were also incredibly proud of our work to enable Secretary Foxx to designate three new Marine Highway Projects, which will advance our goal of alleviating pressures on congested landside freight corridors.
With regard to port infrastructure, we helped the Obama administration direct two $10 million TIGER grants to the ports of San Diego and Indiana-Jeffersonville, as well as a $12.3 million TIGER grant to Port Hueneme. In 2015, we celebrated completion of major infrastructure construction and enhancement projects at Guam’s Jose D. Leon Guerrero Commercial Port, America’s Central Port in Granite City, Ill., and the ports of Corpus Christi and Brownsville, Texas. We also helped world-class facilities like the Port of Duluth-Superior and the Port of Virginia break ground on their expansion projects.
In 2015, we continued to lead the push that will ensure our nation has the robust pool of mariners it needs. We did this not only by graduating another highly qualified, highly educated class of U.S. Coast Guard-licensed U.S. Merchant Mariners from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, but also by working with the White House to place a $5 million request in the president’s 2016 budget and which was subsequently approved by Congress to fund design of a new national security multi-mission vessel to plan for recapitalization of “training ships” at our six state maritime academies.
And there’s much more that I could share. From fine-tuning the draft National Maritime Strategy — which will fortify our industry for the challenges of rising population and trade — to publishing several important industry studies, 2015 was a stellar year for us at MarAd.
So as we sit here in the first month of 2016, I tell my colleagues not to worry about the tough but exciting challenges this year will certainly bring. Rather, I tell them to remember the course that brought us here, to understand how we strengthened national security, supported our nation’s economic growth, and created new opportunities for mariners and the maritime industry in 2015, and to keep an eye on the horizon. Together, we will steer a steady course, and, personally, I am looking forward to it!
Teamwork is what works, and as long as we continue to work together in this new year, the challenges of 2016 will become new opportunities to support American businesses as they compete in the global economy.