Celebrating National Maritime Day

On May 22, we celebrated National Maritime Day, a day to honor the men and women who serve on U.S. vessels around the world, contributing to our nation’s prosperity and security. National Maritime Day was established by Congress in 1933 to celebrate the first transoceanic voyage in 1819 by the steamship the S.S. Savannah. Since then, the U.S. Merchant Marine has played a vital role in our history, from the Revolutionary War to World War II to the present day.

The U.S. Merchant Marine is composed of civilian mariners who operate U.S.-flagged vessels that carry cargo and passengers across the oceans, inland waterways, and Great Lakes. They also support our military forces by transporting equipment, troops, and supplies wherever they need to go. The Merchant Marine is essential for our economy, as it moves hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods through our ports and waterways every year .

The Merchant Marine should be a source of pride and innovation for all Americans. These mariners who serve on American vessels are highly skilled and trained professionals who uphold the highest standards of safety, security, and environmental stewardship. They also embrace diversity and inclusion, representing the rich tapestry of our nation’s people and cultures. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, New York, is one of the five federal service academies that educates and prepares future leaders for the maritime industry.

National Maritime Day also is a day to celebrate the Jones Act, a law that has been supporting and securing our domestic maritime industry for over 100 years. The Jones Act says that only American ships, built and crewed by Americans, can carry cargo between U.S. ports. This is not just good for our economy, but also vital for our national security. The Jones Act makes sure that we always have the ability and the people to make and run American ships, which we can count on to defend our shores and help our military missions. Unlike other countries that often outsource their domestic maritime industry, our military needs private shipyards and a fleet of American commercial ships with crew able to move cargo and people during times of war.

The Jones Act and the U.S. Merchant Marine showed their importance during World War II, when more than 250,000 civilian merchant mariners risked their lives to bring supplies and personnel to war zones. Almost 10,000 of them died for their service. Today, the Jones Act and the U.S. Merchant Marine are still very important for our national defense, especially as we face the danger of China’s growing maritime ambitions. The Jones Act blocks China from taking over our domestic shipping market, damaging our sovereignty.

On National Maritime Day, we appreciate the value and importance of the Jones Act and the U.S. Merchant Marine for our nation’s security and prosperity. We also stand by this law, which has been backed by every president since it started, regardless of political party. The Jones Act is no peacetime luxury, but a wartime need that we cannot give up.

On National Maritime Day, we salute the courage and dedication of the merchant mariners who serve our country with honor and distinction. We also recognize the importance of supporting and investing in our maritime industry, which is vital for our national security and economic growth. We reaffirm our commitment to the Jones Act, which ensures that U.S.-flagged vessels are built, owned, operated, and crewed by Americans. We also must pledge to improve our maritime infrastructure and supply chains, which are critical for our competitiveness and resilience in the global market.

As President Biden said in his proclamation for National Maritime Day 2023: “The United States Merchant Marine underpins our Nation’s prosperity and upholds our Nation’s highest principles — freedom, liberty, and dignity. Today, and every day, we honor merchant mariners’ service and sacrifice and renew our commitment to stand by their side, from sea to shining sea.”

We at the Herd Law Firm are proud to fight for maritime workers and passengers in all types of personal injury claims, and never waver in our commitment to help these maritime workers and their families when they are injured.

Happy National Maritime Day!


Photo Source: American Maritime Parnership

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