FINANCING OUTLOOK GLOOMY FOR US MERCHANT MARINE IN '95

FINANCING OUTLOOK GLOOMY FOR US MERCHANT MARINE IN '95

U.S.-flag carriers, maritime labor and a Clinton administration official Wednesday told a trio of friendly senators that the U.S. merchant marine needs new subsidies in order to survive, but hopes for funding this year are growing dimmer.

The Commerce, State, Justice Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee received news last week of the total amount it has to spend on all the programs within its jurisdiction, which includes maritime along with the FBI, the courts, the prisons and the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The Senate panel received $1 billion less for those programs than did its House counterpart.Even with the additional $1 billion available for the programs under its jurisdiction, the House subcommittee refused to fund the proposed Maritime Security Program.

But Erik Johnsen, president of Waterman Steamship Corp. and Central Gulf Lines Inc., told members of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that paying carriers to remain under the U.S.-flag was cheaper than buying and maintaining separate vessels for use by the military in wartime.

Gen. Robert L. Rutherford, commander in chief of the U.S. Transportation Command, said the Pentagon supported the proposed 10-year, $1 billion program, but that its priority in spending sealift funds was more fast response roll- on/roll-off vessels.