December 9, 2003 - Issue: Vol. 149, No. 176 — Daily Edition108th Congress (2003 - 2004) - 1st Session
MARITIME SECURITY PROGRAM
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Page E2495] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] MARITIME SECURITY PROGRAM ______ HON. W.J. (Billy) TAUZIN of louisiana in the house of representatives Monday, December 8, 2003 Mr. TAUZIN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my appreciation to Chairman Duncan Hunter of the House Armed Services Committee for his successful efforts to reauthorize the Maritime Security Program (MSP) in the recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004. The vitally important MSP program will ensure that militarily-useful, United States flag commercial vessels crewed by American citizens are available for this Nation's military and national security needs. In the MSP program reauthorization, the Congress has ensured that no unreasonable impediments stand in the way of obtaining U.S.-flag roll- on/roll-off, container and other militarily-useful MSP vessels for the transport of military vehicles, supplies and other materiel in support of U.S. military operations around the world. Chairman Hunter's support was vital to our efforts to clarify the original intent of certain vessel equipment provisions in the Maritime Security Act of 1996 that first created the MSP program. Specifically, it is now clear that existing vessels built to international standards may be documented under the United States flag for inclusion in the MSP program when the telecommunications and other electronic equipment on such vessels meets internationally accepted standards. As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and with my dear colleague from Louisiana, Congressman Vitter, we worked closely with Chairman Hunter to ensure that appropriate telecommunications and other electronic equipment standards are applied to MSP vessels. When the MSP program was originally enacted, the law provided that a vessel that meets internationally accepted construction and equipment standards may be reflagged under the United States flag for operation in the MSP. That provision was intended to apply to all vessel equipment, including telecommunication and other electronic equipment. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 now clarifies that matter. Accordingly, it is now clear that a vessel may be added to the U.S.- flag commercial fleet for operation in the MSP program if it is built to international standards, and the telecommunications and other radio equipment aboard the vessels comply with applicable international Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention requirements. This is in keeping with the elimination of financial and other burdens that the Congress specifically sought to remove through the establishment of the Maritime Security Program. I would like to again thank Chairman Hunter and his staff for working closely with us on this matter of critical importance to the military and national security of the United States. ____________________