Observations on the Maritime

From Commander, Military Sealift Command

Observations on the Maritime

This past weekend I spoke at the commissioning ceremony and commencement exercises at the State University of New York, Maritime College. The state and national maritime academies are key partners as they are educating, shaping and producing the next generation of maritime leaders.

I shared with the graduates and families several perspectives I’ve gained over the past two and a half years about the maritime ecosystem.

Observation #1:  The maritime ecosystem vitally contributes to national security.  Our economy is directly tied to the maritime.  And that dependence grows with each passing year.  The seas are key to American prosperity.  And it is our maritime ecosystem – the ship-building and repair companies, maritime operating and shipping companies, logistics and transportation companies, and most importantly the talented human capital – that gives America a competitive edge.

Observation #2:  The maritime operating environment is changing at an exponential rate.  There is broad consensus that today’s security environment is faster paced, more complex, and increasingly competitive.  Today’s maritime operations cover all domains – from the ocean floor to geosynchronous orbit; from the high seas to the littorals; even cyberspace.  The relative freedom of navigation we enjoyed over the past 50 years across all domains has ended.  Today we witness growing naval strength and belligerent actions by state and non-state actors alike.  For those of us working in the maritime industry, our charge is to swiftly adapt to the new operating environment.  It is imperative that we account for these current and emerging challenges so that we remain relevant as an industry and strong as a nation.

Observation #3:  The maritime ecosystem is composed of talented and courageous professionals.  The global delivery and sustainment of food, fuel, and supplies is achieved by a complex logistics “system of systems” that must be assured.  With the return to great power competition and the expansion of Grey War activity, Mariners sailing today face increasing adversity and possible grave consequences.  U.S. Mariners have proven they will be there, reliably and bravely manning our ships — even if the seas become a battlefield.  In addition, our nation is fortunate to have on deck recent graduates from our maritime academies and union schools who are eager to carry on the proud tradition of the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Our Mariners and ashore staff are the tie between the strategic importance of the maritime and this new operating environment.  Working together with a shared sense of purpose to collaboratively overcome obstacles is how we will adapt to today’s changing world.  The important work we are doing today will enable MSC to provide global assured logistics, sealift, and special services to the joint warfighter in any environment we may encounter.

Thank you for the work you are doing every day at MSC.

United We Sail,

Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, USN

Commander, Military Sealift Command

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