(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 []

                       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program was originally enacted, the law provided that a vessel that 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.