The U.S. Merchant Marine could lose up to 15 vessels, dealing a blow to mariners who operate the vessels, if federal sequestration cuts take effect next fiscal year, according to a maritime trade union.
The Maritime Administration told maritime union officials that the billions of dollars in funding cuts to federal programs, set to take effect Oct. 1, would cut the number of vessels in the Ready Reserve Fleet and the Maritime Security Program, according to a Sept. 2 letter from the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association. Congress and the Obama administration have made little headway in reaching a fiscal deal to prevent or blunt the next wave of sequestration cuts.
The latest round of sequestration cuts has already hit the Merchant Marine, and the Obama administration is attempting to cut direct foreign food aid, which would result in less cargo for the fleet to ship.
“There is a concerted effort to get Congress and the Administration to act in a positive way but the political atmosphere on the Hill is toxic and there is a significant chance no resolution will be reached that will achieve success,” the union said.