Ships in the Maritime Security Program (MSP), under which operators of 60 U.S.-flag ships receive a $3.1 million stipend to offset higher operating costs, such as employing U.S. mariners on ships in foreign trade, will only get about 75 percent of their normal monthly stipend in August and none in September because of the effect of sequestration on the federal budget, said Paul N. Jaenichen Sr., deputy maritime administrator at the U.S. Maritime Administration.
Jaenichen said it will be up to each company to figure out how they will deal with the reduced MSP payments, but he noted under the program shipping companies are required to operate their vessels for 320 days in each fiscal year in foreign trade. MSP is MarAd’s largest appropriated program. Some of the ships are engaged in liner trades, making it more difficult, for example, if they want to idle a vessel for a month.
Jaenichen took the helm of the federal agency after David Matsuda announced his decision to step down as maritime administrator in May. He said he did not know how quickly the Obama administration will name a permanent replacement for Matsuda.
“I’m sure that there are a number of folks that are under consideration, and I would like to be one,” he said. “If I was to be offered the job, I would absolutely serve and I would look forward to the opportunity to do that.”
Jaenichen served 30 years as a nuclear-trained submarine officer and was deputy chief of legislative affairs for the Navy when he retired in April 2012.
“I’m a former Navy guy; I only know one way to do business. You have a task that has to be accomplished. You figure out the plan of action, the milestones and then you focus your entire energy on that,” he said.
So while he is—at least for the moment—in a caretaker position, Jaenichen said he's putting together a “strategic vision” for what is needed to make the U.S. deep ocean fleet viable, while being sensitive to “not putting the (Obama) administration or the Maritime Administration in the position where the next guy will want to go” in a different direction.
The U.S. Merchant Marine, he noted, is really a “tale of two cities”—the inland and coastal fleet are thriving and have bright prospects because of the boom in U.S. oil and gas production, while the deepsea fleet faces more uncertainty.
“The challenge we have is with the decrease in Department of Defense volume in 2014 as we retrograde out of Afghanistan and where we are with other government impelled and cargo preference levels. We have challenges facing the industry and we need to look at solutions and have a strategy to make sure the U.S.-flag fleet is available to us in the future. It does have a national security implication for us because the mariners that sail on those ships also sail on our reserve sealift ships in the Ready Reserve Force and I need those folks to be able to handle that initial surge demand when the U.S. Transportation Command needs them to move military equipment and supplies to where they are needed.”
Jaenichen spoke briefly to American Shipper
after the annual meeting of the United Seamen’s Service (USS), where he was the featured speaker.
Jaenichen said “I spent 14 years in sea assignments and a cumulative total of about eight years at sea. I know firsthand how important the USS centers are not only to our mariners and mariners from other nations, but the Navy sailors I was associated with.”
He even recalled a 6th Fleet Navy liason visiting one of his ships when he was a young officer and telling them that “if the crew wants to go make some phone calls and have something to drink and get something to eat, I recommend you go to this USS center—it’s way better than the USO, but I’m not supposed to say that.”
About 163,000 seafarers visited USS facilities at six overseas centers in Busan, Bremerhaven, Casablanca, Diego Garcia, Yokohama, and Okinawa and its staff also provides support services in four other ports.
United Seamen’s Service announced Friday that this year’s recipients of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) Awards will be Phillip W. J. Fisher, president of Charles Kurz & Co. Inc. and executive vice president of Keystone Shipping; U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.; and Emanuel L. Rouvelas of the law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis.
The three men will be honored Nov. 15 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York which is a major fundraising event for USS and its affiliate American Merchant Marine Library Association which puts libraries aboard ships. - Chris Dupin