Larsen: Strengthen the Coast Guard to Protect Northwest Washington Jobs, Ports and Families</A

Feb 27, 2008

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee – of which U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) is a member – held a hearing on the Coast Guard’s budget for the next fiscal year. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Vice Admiral Robert J. Papp, the Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard and Master Chief Charles W. Bowen, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. Larsen released the following statement today:

“Washington state is home to the country’s largest ferry system, some of our busiest ports and the most trade-focused economy in the nation. Washington state’s maritime industries employ over 9,000 people and countless more depend on our marine transportation system in their daily lives.

“The U.S. Coast Guard plays a critical role in protecting our marine transportation infrastructure so people and goods can continue to move safely and efficiently and so our ports, boats and cargo remain secure from future threats.

“Under the leadership of Admiral Allen, the Coast Guard is better prepared than ever to protect people and infrastructure at port and at sea. But we must do more to ensure that the men and women of the Coast Guard have the resources they need to meet their expanding responsibilities.

“The Coast Guard’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2009 reflects its commitment to improving marine safety.  Congress should support the Coast Guard’s request for $20 million to hire 276 new marine inspectors. This investment will help ensure the safety of vessels across the country and the families, communities and businesses they serve.

“We must also ensure that the Coast Guard has the resources it needs to continue modernizing its aging fleet. Modern assets including cutters, boats and aircraft will help the Coast Guard better fulfill its missions.”

“While the Coast Guard’s budget request for the next Fiscal Year represents a strong investment in our maritime transportation system, other parts of the President’s budget for maritime activities fall short.  A $178 million decrease in port security grants is unacceptable at a time of unprecedented growth in seaborne trade. Now is not the time to nickel and dime our nation’s port security.

“The President’s budget request for the Assistance to Small Shipyards program is also inadequate. This program provides grants for capital improvements at small shipyards, which are the backbone of Northwest Washington’s marine industry. Congress must continue to support this critical part of our domestic shipbuilding industry.”