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USTRANSCOM, maritime partners discuss sealift readiness, plan for future challenges

Members of the Sealift Executive Working Group pose for a photo Aug. 30, at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Jonathan Stefanko)

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Defense leaders met with maritime industry partners on Aug. 30 during the bi-annual Sealift Executive Working Group (SEWG), at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland, to enhance cooperation on key sealift issues.


Established in 1995*, the SEWG is chartered to examine how the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise can improve its global transportation capabilities, specifically the operational effectiveness, speed, survivability and resilience of maritime logistics.


The working group brought more than 75 government and maritime industry executives together to discuss sealift readiness in competition, crisis and conflict. The Administrator of Maritime Administration (MARAD) Ann C. Phillips joined the SEWG co-chairs, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. John Sullivan, and MARAD Associate Administrator Kevin Tokarski, in sharing areas of progress and concern with industry and labor executives to strengthen relationships in support of national security objectives.



“Sealift will only grow more important as we face increasingly challenging and complex operating environments over greater distances,” Sullivan said. “It is critical that we focus our efforts on improving our ability to rapidly assess and tap into all available capacity to succeed in contested environments.”


During the working session, Sullivan used the current efforts in support of U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and Ukraine as an opportunity to thank the sealift industry and the Merchant Mariner community for their vital contributions. To date, commercial vessels have executed approximately 80% of sealift missions, delivering lethal aid and supplies to EUCOM and our allies and partners.


Another key topic discussed during the SEWG was the health of the Merchant Mariner community. Mariners are civilians who crew ready-reserve sealift vessels responsible for moving Defense Department resources globally in peacetime or conflict.



“Having a sufficient pool of trained Merchant Mariners is central to our nation’s ability to surge power projection in crisis or conflict,” Sullivan said. “The training and certification programs occurring at Piney Point and similar campuses across the country remain vital to maintaining this needed capability.”


In closing the working group, Sullivan praised the continued coordination between USTRANSCOM, MARAD, industry and the Mariner labor community, calling the longstanding relationships a ‘cornerstone’ for sustaining strategic sealift capability. He also stressed that more work lies ahead but remains confident that the SEWG will see it done.


The SEWG is one of three executive working groups co-hosted by USTRANSCOM annually. A Surface EWG focuses on land-based transportation capability, and a Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) EWG deals with strategic airlift capability.


About USTRANSCOM


U.S. Transportation Command is a warfighting combatant command that projects and sustains military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, USTRANSCOM underwrites the lethality of the joint force, advances American interests around the globe, and provides our nation’s leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.


*Editor's note: SEWG established date udpated for accuracy.


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