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 JULY 27, 2018


Good day and thank you for inviting me to join you here this morning. I’m honored to be among the maritime leaders and entrepreneurs of the Long Island Sound.

When I think of what the maritime industry means to this great nation, I almost immediately get a picture of New York. This is where i first caught a glimpse of the “big” ships as a young boy – all of the tugs, barges, lighters, scows, derricks, ferries, and all of the other vessels and activity that make this place buzz.

If I’m being honest, I’d much rather be here today than in Washington, because the smell of the water and sight of ships and mariners is as alluring for me now as it was all those years ago.

For those you who make your living on the water every day, I can’t imagine a better life.

I find it interesting that, since coming on board at MARAD in august, I’ve spent more time on the water here on the Long Island Sound and New York harbor than anywhere else – including my own homeport of Norfolk.  That’s not by accident. Down at MARAD we’re fairly consumed with promoting and supporting the nation’s ports and waterways, and the New York-New Jersey region is a maritime powerhouse.

I can assure you that, as Maritime Administrator, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the strategic nature of our ports and natural inland waterborne highways.
And of how important they are to our national security and economic prosperity.

Locally, in the New York Harbor area and along your regional waterways, for instance, tugs and barges move nearly 28 million tons of domestic freight every year, including $96.4 billion worth of manufactured goods, from consumer products to industrial components.[i]

We recognize that nearly 100,000 containers were moved by tug and barge in 2017, which took that many truck loads off of New York – New Jersey roads and bridges.

And then you have the enormous tonnage of petroleum products and chemicals moving through your regional waterways – accounting for 71 percent of the domestic waterborne traffic in New York. That’s over 21 million tons of North American petroleum and chemical product shipments annually moving through your regional waterways.

And in addition to all of this national commerce, who knew there were so many farmers and agricultural interests on long island wanting to move local goods and products to market? The combination of technology, transportation and our national waterways are also creating new opportunities for your local agricultural community.

The bottom line is that – along Long Island Sound and up the east coast from the New York Harbor hub… and beyond– the future of short sea shipping is bright.

Which is why we’re here today … to designate a new marine highway service –the Harbor Harvest Long Island Sound project. It’s a designation that brings CT Port Authority Harbor Harvest into an exclusive group of 23 marine highway projects around the country that have been designated by the Secretary.
This project has its own unique profile. It will provide a dedicated service to small farms and co-ops on long island and in Connecticut, helping these farmers move products to new markets across the Long Island Sound.

Just as importantly, it won’t be adding to the heavily-congested roads and bridges in the New York city area.

Not only is the Harbor Harvest service expanding the reach of the small farms, possibly creating new farm jobs, they are also creating new maritime jobs at sea.

And the Derecktor Shipyard and their suppliers and supporters in the local area will also benefit from additional jobs. And that’s not all.

Perhaps most impressive to those of us at MARAD, this particular project brings technological innovation.  Unlike other tug and barge services, this marine highway will use three newly-built, state-of-the-art hybrid vessels built here at the Derecktor Shipyard– the first use of a hybrid vessel on the marine highway system.

In that sense, this project represents the best of what the U.S. maritime industry must become to compete in the 21st century — a diverse, interconnected, multi-modal enterprise leveraging and developing new technologies, while cultivating the skills and expertise of American mariners.

America’s marine highways program is an important part of the equation. Maritime commercial transportation must become an easy and routine option for shippers to get their goods to both domestic and international markets – and at MARAD we’re working hard to support and foster new maritime supply chains.

For one, our Office of Ports & Waterways Planning advocates for maximizing the use of marine highway services as a proven method of not just increasing freight movement on our waterways system but mitigating landside congestion. That’s becoming an urgent necessity in this nation.

We assist in the development of collaborate public-private partnerships to create innovative solutions for the safe and efficient movement of freight.

Our office also awards and manages discretionary grants to help alleviate capital risk for start-ups. And our many tools and workshops assist ports, shippers, service operators and key stakeholders to establish marine highway services as cost competitive — and routine — options for U.S. shippers.

This includes designating “AMH” routes into state and regional transportation planning to improve freight and passenger movement. To date, the office has assisted in creating and expanding these types of services throughout the northeast, Virginia, and along the Mississippi River.

Locally, as you know, two other projects that have been approved are the Cross Sound Ferry Enhancement Project,  and Trans-Hudson Freight Connector Project.
Like the others, it will help reduce truck traffic and air pollution in the New York area.

And the recently designated Newark to Brooklyn to Davisville, Rhode Island Container on Barge Service will pull approximately 83,200 containers off the road each year off the I-95 corridor. That constitutes a huge impact for relieving traffic in this region.

America’s marine highway grant program released a notice of funding opportunity on June 27, 2018 – which will make $7 million available for the designated marine highway projects. That notice closes on October 5, 2018, with awards anticipated being announced in the fall.

All of this is great, positive news for an industry facing more than its share of challenges. So, in offering both my gratitude and congratulations, I just want to leave you with this.

My team and I are here to help you and support you, in continuing to plan, innovate, connect and communicate.

We are here to make sure your part of the maritime industry continues to thrive and grow. And it’s our privilege to do so, because your work here is absolutely critical to ensuring that our nation’s economic prosperity and security moves forward on a full bell.

Thank you again. It has been an honor to be with you today.

[i] Towboat and Harbor Carriers Assn. Website —

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018