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Maritime industry called vital to national security

You may not have known it, but the United States has a law mandating that ships traveling from one U.S. port to another U.S. port must be built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens.

Maritime industry called vital to national security
Coast Guard Petty Officer Jeffery Russell leads the Color Guard to open the Maritime Day Celebration luncheon at the DECC on Monday.

You may not have known it, but the United States has a law mandating that ships traveling from one U.S. port to another U.S. port must be built, owned and operated by U.S. citizens.

That, says Jim Weakley, president of Lake Carriers' Association, isn't a matter of protectionism run amok, but a vital part of keeping our borders secure and the national economy humming.

"Maritime transportation is the grease that keeps our economy moving," he said in his talk, "Sailors, Ships & Security," at the Duluth-Superior National Maritime Day Celebration luncheon at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Monday.

Maritime shipping, he told the crowd in a DECC meeting hall, "is the most environmentally friendly, most economical and the safest mode of transportation." And, he said with a smile, the ships "are cool ... they're works of beauty."

The luncheon celebration began with a presentation of the flags by the U.S. Coast Guard and readings of proclamations from two governors and two mayors.

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Roy Frendin, an Edina, Minn. resident and vice president of the U.S. Merchant Marine Viking Chapter, read the proclamation from Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, adding a few words of his own about his days as a member of the Merchant Marine during World War II

Jason Serck, planning and port director for the city of Superior, read the Maritime Day proclamation from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson read one from Mayor Don Ness and Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen read his own. All touted how important the maritime industry is to the Twin Ports, the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota and the whole country.

"Duluth is one of the few communities where people truly understand the shipping industry," Weakley said as he looked out on the luncheon crowd of about 75 that included Merchant Marine veterans, current seafarers, maritime industry stakeholders and friends.

Weakley said the United States' national security is protected by the Jones Act, a federal statute that requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.

The act also ensures that the U.S. will have American manufactured and owned ships available to transport troops and supplies in times of war.

"It is the Jones Act's assurance of our shipbuilding capability that enables our Navy and Coast Guard to deter pirate attacks along our coasts and against our ships. Because of the Jones Act, the United States

doesn't have a problem with pirates," he told the Budgeteer afterward.

To the audience, he warned that no nation which has ever lost naval supremacy has regained it.

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"You," addressing the crowd involved in the maritime industry, "Each and every one of you is part of something great."

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