Rep Garamendi warns U.S. is vulnerable to Russian polar dominance of sea lanes

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) told California maritime executives that the US Coast Guard is “seriously underfunded” and lacks the heavy ice breaker fleet that Russia and possibly China might deploy to dominate polar sea lanes.

Currently the Coast Guard has one heavy ice-breaker that is currently in drydock for repairs and is over forty years old.

Garamendi is the senior Democrat on the House sub-committee for the U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

The Congressman spoke at a Maritime Stakeholder meeting that took place at the California Maritime Academy at Vallejo, California in which he noted:

  • He helped secure passage of an authorization to recapitalize a fleet of six polar ice breakers for the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Expressed concern that U.S. Customs is allowing some foreign owned vessels exemptions to supply U.S. off-shore oil platforms in the violation of the Jones Act that provides that the work go to U.S. owned vessels and U.S. crews in U.S. waters.
  • Introduced the Energizing American Shipbuilding bill to require a certain percentage of liquified natural gas and crude oil exports be transported on U.S. built and U.S-flag vessels. The bill has yet to be enacted.
  • Opposed the Trump administration’s attempt to eliminate funding for the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Title XI program which provides funding for new U.S. shipbuilding.
  • Opposes efforts in Congress to continue taking funds away from the Harbor Maintenance Fund which finances dredging and some shore side improvements for U.S. ports.
  • Opposed attacks on the Jones Act noting that U.S. ocean carriers immediately re-supplied Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 despite false statements to the contrary.
  • He introduced legislation to support new technologies or “Blue Technologies” for the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. maritime companies. The California Maritime Academy and the U.S. Department of Commerce convened a briefing by Silicon Valley companies developing drones, robotics and zero emission fuel cell vessels that might benefit from the Garamendi legislation.

At a luncheon sponsored by the Propeller Club of Northern California, Garamendi received an award from the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) for his service to the U.S. maritime industry. The award was presented by Matt Woodruff, Vice-President of Public and Government Relations, Kirby Corporation and Chairman of AMP as well as by other AMP members.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


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