Biden’s Secretary of Transportation, ‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg, is out on paternity leave. So Biden chooses a US Maritime Administrator with zero experience on commercial ships to address the largest shipping crisis in the country’s history.
We reported last month on the ships anchored offshore unable to unload their cargo from overseas.
Yesterday we reported that the Secretary of Transportation, the individual who should be addressing this mess, is out on paternity leave in the greatest commercial shipping crisis history.
Now gCaptain reports:
…during the worst shipping crisis of the century, the US Department of Transportation, has appointed someone to the US Maritime Administration (MARAD) who is not a captain and has no commercial shipping experience.
Phillips is a highly decorated Navy leader with a long list of accomplishments and is highly respected by everyone gCaptain has interviewed. She was head of the Navy’s Climate Change Task Force and is a highly sought after consultant on climate security issues. She holds an MBA. She was chairman of a local government Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience project. She once captained a Navy warship. The appointment looks great on paper except for one kinda big problem. This is not a warship position. It’s a commercial shipping appointment and she has zero experience aboard any commercial ships. She does not even have experience leading navy military sealift ships.
The position of US Maritime Administrator is traditionally held by a commercial shipowner or captain, but President Obama left the position unfilled for years then selected a former congressional staffer, David Matsuda. He was highly unpopular and was pushed out in 2013. Obama followed the appointment with a relatively low ranking navy submarine commander Chip Jaenichen.
The Trump administration appointed US Navy Rear Admiral Mark Buzby for the position. Buzby, while not a commercial mariner or ship owner, was a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), ran sealift operations for the Navy, was on the board of directors of Carnival Cruise Line, and spent his first year traveling around the country, meeting with ship captains and commercial maritime stake holders. He reached out and listened to stakeholder needs. Buzby became highly popular within the industry on his promise to publish a new US Maritime Strategy to resuscitate the US Merchant Marine. He did write that strategy but it was lost in the malaize of government bureaucracy.
Mark Buzby did, however, accomplish one seemingly impossible task, he saved Aker’s Phillidelphia Shipyard from closing by purchasing four new state maritime academy training ships (NSMVs), valued at over $1.5 billion. Construction of the NSMVs supports over 1,000 direct shipyard jobs in Philadelphia. Buzby also convinced the US Transportation Command to do a major “turbo-activation” of the Ready Reserve Fleet to prove the abysmal state of our nation’s readiness to move materials for war.
Each action [by Biden] however has been a misstep. To the untrained eye the 139 ships waiting to leave Los Angeles may look like a port crisis that can be solved by a US Port Envoy, it is not. It is a SHIPPING crisis. Numerous ports around the United States including Oakland and San Diego, have extra capacity, what we don’t have is anyone with recent SHIPPING experience at MARAD directing the SHIPS to empty ports. This week Biden addressed the nation with a plan to prevent containergeddon from ruining Christmas but experts say his plan is doomed to fail because, again, not a single ship captain was called to give advice on how to fix this SHIPPING crisis.