tv Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Schultz Testifies on 2020 Budget Request CSPAN April 8, 2019 1:52pm-3:32pm EDT
c-span's "the presidents" will be on shelves april 23 but you can pre-order your copy as a hard cover or e book today. at c-span.org/the presidents. or wherever books are sold. next, coast guard commandant admiral karl schultz outlines some of the president's priorities for the president's budget request for 2020, fleet modernization, the polar security cutter program and drug prevention efforts at the senate commerce sub committee hearing. >> good morning, the sub committee on security will now come to order. i am pleased to welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses today, to discuss with the
committee the future of the u.s. maritime industry. the united states is a maritime state. with over 95,000 miles of shoreline. over half of which come from my home state, the state of alaska. america's ports, waterways, and river systems, support over $4.6 trillion in annual economic activity and almost 650,000 american jobs. it is a hugely important part of our economy, and very important that is the global maritime industry evolves and grows, that federal regulations and oversight evolve in lockstep with that growth. today, we hear from admiral carl schultz, the commandant of the coast guard, admiral mark buzby, the maritime administration administrator and the honorable
michael khouri, chairman of the federal maritime commission on how to support this change in growth. their missions of each agency contribute to the safety, national security and economic growth of our nation. congress has given the coast guard a wide range of missions, very wide, as the admiral certainly knows from search and rescue, ice breaking, maritime environmental protections to port security, drug int ever diction, international crisis response, and readiness to support the department of defense operations. admiral, as i mentioned to you yesterday, i happened to catch an episode of the deadliest catch, the discovery channel, a couple of nights ago, and it was all about our coast guard heroes who do incredible work, not just in alaska, but all over america and the world. increasing human activity in the arctic, violence, terrorism, and
drug trafficking in the caribbean basin, central america and mexico and overseas contingency operations demand an increased coast guard presence at home, and increasingly around the globe. these pressures push the limit of the services fleet, as well as its personnel. the extended lapse in appropriations earlier this year only served to exacerbate that pressure. it was unacceptable to me and many members of the senate that the women and men of the u.s. coast guard, a branch of the u.s. military, were left unpaid for the dangerous work that they do, securing our country, while all the other service members were being paid. i along with a number of our colleagues, are working on legislation that would protect the coast guard should another such lapse occur, and admiral, we want to work with your team on that. although not a branch of the military, the maritime
administration, plays a key role in securing our national security. the maritime security program for example provides a stipend for 60 u.s. flag vessels which operate commercially during peacetime but are in stand by to support u.s. military operations during war or national emergency. ensuring that the maritime security program is appropriately managed and funded is critical to sustaining both the health of the u.s. domestic maritime industry and to securing the logistics supply line for global military operations. in addition to the msp, marad runs a number of other national security level programs such as the voluntary inter modal sea lift agreement, saes, and the national defense reserve fleet which includes the ready reserve fleet just to name a few. these programs and ships they support provide the critical unsung infrastructure that our nation relies upon to sustain
both security operations and economic development. of course, the life blood behind those programs are the american merchant mariners, that crew u.s. flag fleets. this group of highly trained and specialized seamen are not growing as fast as the previous generation is retiring. which poses a national security challenge to policy makers and the industry. the federal maritime commission established in 1961 is an independent federal agency responsible for the regulation of ocean-born international transportation of the united states. the bipartisan committee of five commissioners administers u.s. maritime law, monitors the activities of ocean carriers, terminal operators, ports, and others. since its inception, the fmc has worked to ensure that neither the activities of liner shipping groups nor foreign government
laws or regulations impose unfair costs on american exporters or american consumers of imported goods. this subcommittee is committed to work to ensure the success of the missions of each of these important agencies, and adequate resources are needed to ensure that this occurs. with that, i want to thank our witnesses for being here today, and i know recognize senator markey for any opening statement he may have. >> thank you mr. chairman, very much and thank you for this great hearing today, very timely. very important. thank you, chairman wicker, for your leadership on these issues, and our ranking member of the full committee of senator cantwell. a vibrant, safe, maritime industry is essential for maintaining america's economic excellence and military might for decades to come. and here's why.
america's domestic maritime industry supports $154 billion in total economic output, and 16 billion in tax revenues every year. it supports nearly 650,000 high wage secure jobs. ensures america maintains the capability to mobilize the u.s. military for overseas. deployments, build military vessels on american shores. it is a very simple formula. a great domestic maritime industry equals a better prepared, more capable military, and a more competitive dynamic economy. massachusetts, the bay state, has always known this. and we thank each of you for testifying today, for your roles in ensuring that we are today as strong as we have ever been. but maintaining our maritime
does not come without challenges. just going to refer to what chairman sullivan just spoke of, during the government shutdown, earlier this year, over 55,000 coast guard members, faithful military members, dedicating their lives to protect their homeland security, were forced to work without pay. and according to the coast guard, only 31% of active duty coast guard personnel had enough emergency savings to cover one month's worth of expenses. that is not acceptable. that is not sustainable. these funding disruptions harm recruitment, retention, and the coast guard's ability to fulfill their mission to ensure our nation's maritime safety, security, and stewardship. and that is something that senator sullivan and i agree on, and i support 100% his sentiments that we pass legislation to make sure that it never happens again, that the
coast guard does not receive their pay when there is a government shutdown. so we have to work together to ensure that that does happen this year. a key part of the mission that you have is interdilkting drugs on the high seas. maritime drug trafficking remains an epidemic with thousands of metric tons of cocaine and other drugs pouring into our country every single year. while the coast guard has become increasingly successful at interdicting these drugs, in recent year, they did not meet their performance targets for drug removal last year. fishermen, safety is another critical challenge we must address. as fishing is still the most deadly profession in america. while congress has empowered the coast guard to provide training and research funding for fishermen safety, the actual distribution of this federal assistance has been problematic. potentially harming the
program's life-saving goals. and further, the nation's maritime academies and research harbors support and protect federally-owned training vessel, but the harbors may not have the resources noded to modernize -- needed to modernize their docks to protect and support these floating maritime classrooms which are essential for preparing the next generation of mariners. so as we hear from the agencies charged to promote the strength of our maritime industry, i look forward to exploring opportunities to ensure members of the coast guard are granted the same privileges as the other members of our military, enhance the coast guard's drug enforcement efforts, address challenges with allocating federal resources for fisher mann, safety training and research and provide targeted assistance toward the harbor modernization to protect visles at maritime academies and research harbors. thank you chairman.
>> thank you senator markey and as we mentioned, we are honored to actually have the chairman of the full commerce committee, and the ranking member of that committee, so i want to offer both of them an opportunity to make opening statements at this hearing as well. chairman wicker? >> i will speak very briefly because we're here to hear the witnesses. thank you senator sullivan and senator markey, as the subcommittee chairman says, senator cantwell and i held a hearing last month, with the full committee, and then it was industry stakeholders, today it is federal agencies who are supporting maritime safety, security, and competitiveness, so this is a great opportunity for us to expand on our tasks ahead, to discuss agency budget priorities, implementation of
provisions enacted in last year's coast guard maritime administration, and federal maritime commission reauthorizations, as well as legislative proposals, for forthcoming reauthorizations of these agencies. i'm struck by how much consensus there is between the opening statement of the chair, and the ranking member. and i will take half a moment to echo what they said about the coast guard, and the fact that they absolutely should be treated, as other uniformed services are, one with hope we would never have another shutdown, that we've learned our lesson finally, but you never know. clearly, we are in unison in feeling strongly that it's unacceptable not to treat our
coast guard service members the same as we do the other services. so admiral schultz, admiral buzby, and mr. khouri, we are glad to see you and we welcome you and look forward to your testimony. >> senator cantwell? >> mr. chairman, i so appreciate that we have 17 different coast guard units across the state of washington, so definitely want to hear from our witnesses. i'm going to submit my statement for the record. >> great. thank you. well, we have, as i mentioned, three distinguished witnesses for this hearing today, admiral schultz, commandant of the coast guard, admiral mark buzby, the administrator of the maritime administration, and the honorable michael khouri, chairman of the federal maritime commission. you will each have five minutes to deliver an opening statement, and a longer written statement will be included in the record if you so desire.
admiral schultz, we'll begin with you, sir. >> well, good morning. chairman sullivan, ranking member markey, chairman wicker, and ranking member cantwell from the physicfull committee, membe the committee, it is a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to testify before you today and i do ask that my written statement be submitted for the record. >> without objection. >> first on behalf of the men and women of the united states coast guard please accept my profound thanks for your unwavering support here on the committee and the subcommittee including the recently enakked fiscal year 2019 appropriation and the funding that came with the 2018 hurricane supplemental funds. these were meaningful steps towards delivering the ready, relevant and responsive coast guard the nation and the public deserve and expect. yet our work is not done. if you take just one thing from my testimony this morning, i ask that you remember readiness. we, the united states coast guard, must be ready. ready to push our maritime border 1500 miles away from our shores, ready to preserve the 5.4 trillion in economic activity that flows across our
maritime marine transportation system, on an annual basis. ready to support the geographic combatant commanders needs across the globe, ready for the next hurricane season which is right around the corner, ready to put our cyber authorities to use as we adopt to 21st century threats. without question, building and sustaining readiness is my absolute top priority. i would say we're at a critical juncture, a tipping point of sorts on that front. after almost a decade of near flat line for funding, coast guard is eroding, and unlike the department of defense, the coast guard categories is nondefense discretionary spending which means we're excluded from the focused effort to rebuild our military and we continue to find ourselves on the outside looking in, when it comes to material operations and support plus-ups. in 2017, the department of defense referred about a 12% boost in operations and support funds while the coast guard received a 4% increase. yet the coast guard's military contributions are in fact, immutable.
every year, we probably expend over $1 billion on defense-related activities in direct support of the kbad ant commanders but the 340 million of defense readiness dollars that we receive has not changed in more than 18 years. as an example of our growing defense portfolio, national security cutter berthoff is supporting the indo-pacific geo combatant commander in the south china sea, protecting an advancing u.s. interests throughout the western pacific region. tho we strithough we strive for relentless resilience, our purchasing power has in fact, declined. if we continue to neglect our growing backlog of deferred repairs on capital assets including shore infrastructure we will lose ground from the evolving threats challenging our nation. despite these challenges i am in fact extremely proud of the coast guard's contributions. in 2018, as part of the department's layered security strategy, in support of drug
inter-agency task force, our surface and aviation assets interdicted 209 metric tons, that's 460,000 pounds, of cocaine. more than all other federal agencies combined. and we apprehended more than 600 suspected smugglers. disrupting trans-national criminal organizations, at sea, where they are most vulnerable helps reduce the push factors that are responsible for driving human migration to our southwest land border. as i speak today, national security cutter wayshi is patrolling the eastern pacific, our national security cutters have exceeded performance expectation bis every metric and now we must focus on transition from out dated and costly medium endurance cutters to highly capable offshore cutters that will in fact, be the backbone of our offshore maritime fleet. in the polar regions, the coast guard is the sole surface presence to protect our rights and our sovereignty and as interest grows from china and russia, it is in our interest to be there to build governance in
this competitive area. . that's why the coast guard is poised to have our arctic strategy outlook, from 2013, later this month. in the high latitudes, presence equals influence. two weeks ago the ice breaker returned from the 105-day trip to antarctica to replenish the sound. on the trip the crew did amazing things to keep that ship operational from putting divers in the icy waters, to put a patch on the shaft, to fighting a fire, in the incinerator space. i am proud of the crew, but i am concerned that we are one major casualty away from having zero heavy ice breakers in the united states inventory. new ice breakers cannot come fast enough. thank you for the $675 million appropriated in the 19 appropriation for the first polar security cutter. finally i appreciate the administration's support for a number of initiatives that nest in our greatest strength our people. while modest this represent tangible investment torsd a
mission ready total work force. for instance, critical investments in our marine inspections work force and our cyber operations build on capabilities that facilitate the 5.4 trillion economic activity on our nation's waterways. a dollar invested in the coast guard is a dollar well spent. and with your continued support the coast guard will live up to our motto, sem per peiratus, always ready. thank you and i look forward to your question. >>s thank you, admiral and i think there is a strong bipartisan agreement on a number of your points but particularly as it relates to the ice breakers so we're focused on that. admiral buzby. >> good morning, chairman sullivan, ranking member markey and ranking member cantwell. ladies and gentlemen of the subcommittee. good morning and thank you for inviting me to testify today. on the maritime administration's contributions to ensuring the safety, security, and competitiveness of our nation. congress recognized long ago that a robust u.s. merchant marine is critical to national defense, and domestic and foreign commerce. yet today our nation relies on
an aging fleet of u.s. government-owned ships to provide surge sea capacity, in terms of conflict or crisis. and is shrinking pool of u.s. flag vessels and qualified american mariners, which are critical, to our long-term national and economic security. specifically, the average age of the government-owned vessels of the ready reserve force or rrf, which provides our military's initial sea level capacity is more than 44 years old. for the past year, we have struggled to maintain readiness levels across that fleet. to address these needs, the president's fy 2020 budget for the department of defense requests $352 million to maintain the rrf. long-term, marad support for the navy, surge sea lift recapitalization strategy which includes a combination of targeted service life extensions, acquiring and converting used vessels, and building new vessels in u.s.
shipyards. along with the rrf, the defense department relies on privately-owned u.s. flag ships to deploy and sustain u.s. forces in times of crisis. and to carry d.o.d. cargos in peacetime as well. however, of the approximately 50,000 large ocean-going commercial vessel, operating around the world today, only 180 fly the u.s. flag. of those, only 81 vessels operate exclusively in international trade. this is one reason why the maritime security program, which provides stipends to 60 militarily useful ships, we would need in a long term deployment, is so critical. the president's fy 2020 budget requests the fully authorized amount of 300 million, the maritime security program. congress also wisely adopted cargo preference and the jones act to ensure access to u.s. flag vessels and american
mariners. in the case of the jones act, it provides an important layer of security by ensuring that vessels navigating u.s. coastal and inland waters operate with u.s. documentation and an american crew. additionally, it supports the majority of our nation's critical shipbuilding, maintenance, and industrial prepared capacity. to supply the ranks of licensed american mariners, we rely on the u.s. merchant academy at king's point, and our six state maritime academies, or sma's. each year, king's point graduates approximately 225 new highly-skilled entry level merchant marine officers who, with their unlimited licenses, and service commitments are qualified to crew large ocean going vessels. the president's fy 2020 budget requests 81.9 million for the academy to maintain the highest standards of education an
training. the state academies collectively graduate approximately 900 entry level merchant marine officers annually. unlike the usmma which trains on commercial carriers, state maritime academy cadets receive most of their sea time while sailing aboard marad training ships several of which are at the end of their service lives. we appreciate congress's recent funding of our training replacement program, the president as he fy 2020 budget request of 242.3 million for the state academies, includes funding for the third new training vessel and maintenance to the existing training ships. finally, port infrastructure grants will help our ports meet projected growth and freight volumes and u.s. foreign trade. the newly 293 million provided for these grants in the fy 19 consolidated appropriations act will help improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of coastal sea ports.
in addition, the $20 million enacted for small shipyard grant program, and the 7 million for the americas maritime highway projects, are essential to sustaining our growing maritime industry. thank you for the opportunity to highlight marad's programs, that support the safety, security, and competitiveness of our nation, i appreciate this subcommittee's continued support for the u.s. maritime industry, and i look forward to your questions, and i respectfully request that my written testimony be entered into the record, sir. >> without objection. and thank you, admiral. chairman khouri? >> good morning. chairman sull van, ranging member markey, ranking member cantwell, and senators. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the federal maritime commission's fiscal year 2020 funding request. i'm accompanied by two of my colleagues today, commissioners lewis sola, and daniel mathay, they joined us in january, following their senate confirmation, and we're glad to
have them aboard. >> we welcome all of the commissioners here. thank you. >> commissioner di is meeting today with industry stakeholders on our port to marriage detention investigation that i will touch on in a moment. last year, the committee on commerce was instrumental in passing the frank lobiando coast guard act of 2018. this act broaden the the commission's authority to carry out its mission to protect the shipping public and we are working to implement the various parts of that legislation. while congress is not assigned to the commission a national security role, america's economic security does rely on a competitive and efficient ocean transportation system. to carry out that directive, the commission administered a focused anti-trust regime tailored to the ocean liner industry. we continuously monitor, cooperative operational agreements, filed at the commission, by ocean carriers, and marine terminal operators.
these collaborative business agreements allow the ocean carriers or the marine terminals to achieve operating efficiencies and cost savings. we closely monitor the agreement parties, business activities, together with the broader international ocean shipping marketplace, for signs of improper clusive are or anti-competitive behaviors. we have a comprehensive and ongoing monitoring and compliance system that is constantly evolving to respond to changes in agreements, the industry, and the marketplace. compared to prior years, that witnessed significant changes to the ocean transportation services market, 2018 was a more stable period for the industry. there have not been further consolidations among the top tier of ocean carriers. there remains a surplus of ocean vessel capacity, and the
marketplace is highly competitive, suggesting that cargo shippers will continue to benefit from lower freight rates offered by the ocean carriers. one area of uncertainty in the coming year is the international maritime organization's mandate for vessels to either burn low sulfur fuel, or to install exhaust stack scrubbers to remove the sulfur from higher sulfur bunker fuels. the mandate begins in january, 2020. and estimated implementation and industry-wide compliance costs run as high as $15 billion a year. now, normally, ocean carriers will try to pass these added direct costs on to shippers. the commission is monitoring this issue to ensure that costs, carrier cost recovery effort does not violate the shipping act and harm u.s. exporters and
consumers. commissioner rebecca di is leading an investigation to examine carrier and marine terminal practices in assessing the detention and demurrage charges. these are fees cargo shippers pay when a container sits on a terminal beyond allowed free time or a container is not returned to an ocean carrier within an agreed period. commissioner di is in the final phase of this effort and will present her recommendations to the commission by september. regarding our budget, the commission is an agency with a specialized mission requiring a small but highly skilled work force. we are requesting $28 million to support 128 full-time equivalent personnel in the fiscal year 2020. slightly more than $24 million of this request goes to salaries and office rent, all other expenses associated with operating the agency, such as
information technology, consulting, and outsourced services, travel and supplies, are funded from the remaining roughly $4 million. i am proud of the work that our dedicated fmc staff performs every day, and the contribution our agency makes towards ensuring competition and integrity for america's ocean supply chain. we are grateful for the support of this committee and its members, and i look forward to working with each of you, and happy to answer any questions you might have about the fmc and its work, and i respectfully request that the written testimony be submitted to the record. thank you. >> without objection. thank you, chairman. i will begin the questions by talking a little bit about the issue of shipbuilding. admiral buzby, small shipyards, in addition to the big ones throughout the country, like the catalyst marine engineering in
seward alaska or ketchacan, are vital parts of local communities but also play an important part for our overall economic and national security. can you speak about the impact that increased funding has had on the ability of the small shipyards grant program to me meet some of these needs? >> yes, sir, thank you, mr. chairman, for your question. that's a good program, a great program. it helps many shipyards every year. we have i think 20 last year, we had $20 million, to disburse, and we were able to help 29 different ship, small ship -- >> is that enough? do you look at trying to increase that or is that the number that you think is appropriate. >> we are grateful for whatever the congress passes to us. i would tell you -- >> that's usually an easy question. >> we have lots, a lot more applications for those grants than we're able to actually support. >> okay.
admiral schultz, i know that you and i, i appreciate the great work you're doing for the coast guard, and i commend you for it, i think you're doing a fantastic job, i appreciate your visits to alaska, and i think our state has benefitted from those. you know, i know you visited the shipyard in ketchacan, and seen the firsthand, the great work that's being done up there, we had a provision in last year's coast guard bill that tried to address this issue that you and i have been working on for quite a while, which is a pretty good-sized shipyard that has a huge impact on southeast alaska. actually makes financial sense for the coast guard to do a lot of its maintenance up there, as opposed to sending ships all the way back down to california. there's this regulation, as you know, that we've been looking at, that is, has unintended consequence on that shipyard, we had language in the coast guard
bill last year, that we thought addressed this, evidently, i was just recently informed that some of the dhs bureaucrats or whatever didn't see it that way, which is an enormous frustration, you get language put in that members of congress agree to, and pass, and now, we have the bureaucracies coming back and saying well, maybe it doesn't work. can you, can i get a commitment from you, and i know i'm going to get it because you have already committed to work with mi staff, and dhs, i will be hauling into my office, whoever is making these decisions, saying, really? we changed the law and you still are not good to go with it? to once again, put this issue to rest. which makes strategic sense for the coast guard. for the cost of maintenance, for your biggest district. district 17, and yet, somehow, the bureaucracy here in dc wants
to continue to drag its feet on that. can i get your commitment on that, admiral? >> chairman, absolutely, i believe you're right, we did recently get guidance from the department that says that language did not get us there. you have my commitment to work with your staff on the language. staying consistent with the small set of rules that exist today, i anticipate we will have some work with geographic restriction in this calendar year 19 that the alaska shipyard should be very competitive, but you have my absolute commitment to work on the language to accomplish the committee's objectives here. >> thank you. it is a huge frustration of mine and more importantly my constituents. i want to talk about ice crackers and the polar security cutter. you know, i got reports and i would like you to first provide more details, when the polar star was up, i've been, there i've been on that ship, the men and women on that ship, do a great job, but holy cow, that is
a really, really old ship. i think it was commissioned in the early '70s. analog technology. was that fire that was on the ship when it was deployed risky, and did that, how long did that take to put out, and you know, my view is, nobody wearing the uniform of the united states military, should be deploying on a ship that's that old and that risky and here we are, men and women of the coast guard are doing a great job in that regard but can you talk a little bit about that and the urgent, urgent need and the risk to life and lymph the members of the coast guard who deploy on that ship, can you talk about that, and how dangerous was that fire that, you know, we had on that ship? i mean a fire on a ship is normally a very, very scary thing. >> chairman, i appreciate the question. and absolutely, first off, the funding that comes in the '19
appropriation to get after prokurnpr prokurnlts of the first security cut ser absolutely an exciting time for the coast guard. we have been at this for a decade. >> and there is authorization for six -- >> and based on on the high latitude studies, yes the intention, i talked about a 6-3-1 strategy, a minimum of six ice breakers, three heavy security, polar ice breakers and the one is imminent. i anticipate an award in the next 30 day, a detailed design and construction of the first coast guard cutter. that is an exciting time and we intend to build a great ship and hopefully put that in the water in the 2023 time line. that initial ship would essentially be enough capacity to replace the polar star. the polar star has been in a cycle where essentially she has 100, 130 days down range deployment to replenish mcmurtle station as i mentioned in the oral statement, they are in at a critical impact infrastructure, and they are relying on the star
to break in the ocean giant to break in to bring in the materials. and the polar star had challenges. we will invest 15 million as proposed in this budget. we are trying to do a four-year multi-year contract to keep star and bridge to gap. i'm confident we can fill that gap. i have to make the decision as to the service chief, can i send men and women safely on the polar star to antarctica every year. the fire on any ship, i'm a sailor, that's one of your biggest concerns, one of the difficult, and there was 90 minutes, a self containing breathing apparatus, we had a serious situation, and we had the dive chamber, to put a patch on the shaft, while ship mates inside the ship crafted tools in the machine shops and climbed into the 30 degree billge water to fix the shaft packing.
and if the windbreaker goes down, we are left with zero. and we are off to the races with an award soon and hopefully ships follow to build out the united states capability and capacity for the arctic region, the ant ark riarctic region. >> tell the men and women who did the heroic work, we thank them and we are trying to make it so they don't have to deploy on a ship that risky. senator markey. >> thank you mr. chairman, very much. in massachusetts, we had 2300 coast guard members who were forced to work without pay. that's a lot of people in our state. and their fellow service men and women were continuing to receive compensation, across the planet, and from my perspective, it had to have an impact on morale and on recruitment.
and i just don't think it's right. again, i'm going to come back to the subject that the coast guard is treated any differently than the army, the air force, the navy, or the marines and i look forward to working with chairman sullivan on making sure that never happens again. my question to you, sir, is did the shutdown affect morale, and knowing that many of your personnel were actually overseas at the same time, serving with the army, the air force, the marine, the other branches, what was the impact of having the coast guard be left behind in terms of being compensated? >> ranking member markey, thank you for the question. thank you for the opportunity during the shutdown, to come in and speak with you and have a frank conversation about those impacts. i would say where we are today,
kind of working backwards here, we're about 75, 80% reconstituted in terms of our ability. one of the big hallmark dates for us comes up in the beginning of hurricane season on 1 june, we had a couple of years of high activity so you will have a ready coast guard to respond to storms. there's some things that are very difficult to recover. we delayed periods where we do maintenance on small boats, deep level maintenance, cutter scheduled dockside and dry dock availability. some of that moved to the right. you know, you play catch-up but lose time. in an organization that's struggling on the readiness front, that is not helpful. in terms of our people, i would say a couple of things. a, i'm very proud of the men and women in the coast guard who stood the watch throughout the shutdown and stayed focus along with their dhs colleagues at the border and secret service and other place, the department at large, i think the men and women stood the watch and did what they signed up to do for the motion. our men and women take an oath and they honored that oath. in terms of the morale, i think we saw a couple of things. it was tough, but the folks did stay mission focused. our leadership tried to keep
their heads in the game. they knew folks were working on their behalf. members of the committee. taking the coast guard to the floor. very appreciate tive of that. they do want to see parity. we are an armed force. i think that is in disputable. it is written in the law. we saw the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff weigh in about the coast guard issue and the other service chiefs. in terms of impact on morale, we saw some tremendous outpouring of support from the nation. there are some parts of the nation that didn't understand their coffee, and i think it raised our visibility. if there is any silver lining in a very difficult situation, it may be the fact that people across the country, people in your state, were doing remarkable things to support the men and women in uniform, from food pantries, i went, you know, i guess on the offensive with my messaging about the unacceptability of coast guard men and women standing in food lines and food pantries but the tremendous outpouring was absolutely heart warming and our families that got in front of cameras, not seeking cameras but cameras put in front of them,
our families stayed on message that they want their spouse to be paid for the job. they're proud coast guard men and women, proud families who stood up to serve the nation and we try to stay out of politics, we he try to stay on task. >> and i agree with you there shouldn't be any politics in this issue. your personnel should be fully paid, the same as every other branch of the service. and again, you're right there right with the uss constitution, our oldest ship is right there in boston harbor and we are very proud of our maritime history but we also understand the incredible sacrifice, all of the people who have served our country in protecting our coastlines provided over the years. and let me move to you, if i could, admiral buzby, i would love to get to the issue of the maritime vessel funding issue. the ts kennedy was launched in 1967, over 50 years ago. can you tell us how important it is for us to fully fund a
program that ensures that you have the best facilities to train the next generation of personnel? >> thank you for that question, senator. we are laser-focused on ensuring that we provide the best possible training facilities for all of our midshipmen at all of the state maritime academies and at king's point, and the replacement of kennedy, the 53-year-old kennedy, and the 57-year-old empire state at new york maritime, those are our two top priorities and in fact, the $600 million that had been appropriated for the nsmv program will go to replace those two ships straight-away and our acquisition strategy is set, we're well along in the process, we expect to actually be awarding contracts for the vessel construction manager probably within the next four or five weeks. >> that's great news. and i thank you again for your service. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator fisher?
>> thank you, mr. chairman. admiral schultz, as you know the recent flooding in nebraska has had a devastating impact on my state. on march 15, 2019, the coast guard issued a waterway closure to all vessel traffic on the missouri river between saint joe and omaha. can you provide an update on the impact of flooding in the missouri river on vessel traffic, and also, do you have a sense of how long a waterway closure may be necessary along the river? >> senator, thank you for the question. first and foremost, our eighth district commander working through our sector commanders, upper ohio valley, upper and lower miss, they have a very key role working with other waterway stake holder, the army corps, the commercial interests, and those are generally negotiated conversations about what are the water levels, what is the currents, and to give you an update, i would like to come back to give you a real
snapshot. i don't have a current snapshot today. the flood levels are unprecedented. and we're watching that closely. i think we're looking at weeks yet before we see the waters receding to normal levels so that will remain a very dynamic situation. and our men and women that stand to watch there in the heartland, are absolutely focused on balancing, you know, the competing interests of economics, and industry, with safety. and we obviously walk a fine line there but we want to err on the safety side, and keep commerce flowing. that's absolutely two sides of the same coin for us, man. >> thank you. if you could get that information to us. >> yes, ma'am. we will get a current snapshot as of today here. >> thank you. and administrator buzby, you have spoken on several occasions about the need for the jones act. and i agree that the jones act is critical for the united states defensive needs. can you describe for the committee what impact the elimination of the jones act would have on marad's ability to
activate a sea lift if called upon by the department of defense? >> thank you for the question, senator. i would say it would have a devastating effect. and not just on marad, but on our nation's ability to deploy our forces and sustain them overseas. our armed forces move via the merchant marine, plain and simple. without the jones act, which not just the vessels but primarily the mariners that operate jones act vessels, we would be dead in the water. we would not be able to take this nation to war. >> thank you very much. chairman c k houri, i continue to hear from shippers that ports particularly on the west coast are experiencing congestion that results in delays in delivering or picking up containers from terminal facilities. these delays frequently result in charges being assessed on the shippers by the ocean carriers or by the terminals that increase the shipping costs.
can you tell me what if anything the commission is doing or looking at doing to address these concerns? >> yes, thank you, senator. well, first, port congestion, resulting container cargo delivery delays, are indeed a continuing issue. congestion delays, further result in the demurrage charges that you mentioned to shippers for the containers use of ground space, at the marine terminal, and then detention charges by the ocean carrier to the shipper for extra use of a container. now, there are multiple causes for port congestion that we are seeing today. recall back for just a minute the fall of 2014 and 2015, west coast port congestion. if i may, there was little to hide the fact that labor and management were in the middle of contract discussions and to be
diplomatic, port labor productivity had dropped off substantially. that is not the cause of today's container port congestion. without trying to rank or prioritize the contributing factors, the list includes, one, cargo surges as shippers try to anticipate and move cargo in front of announced tariff increase deadlines. two, most recently, accelerated shipments in front of the annual chinese new year holiday and their factory closures. three, larger ships are moving into the u.s. transpacific routes, resulting in surges of containers arriving at the terminals in l.a., long beach, oakland, seattle, tacoma. next, we have a continued problem with chassis availability, in particular chassis shortages at one terminal while there may be
excess containers in another and further, as an example, an ocean carrier requires its containers to be placed on a particular branded chassis. and last, growing reports and complaints that the appointment systems that were introduced in l.a. and long beach last year are simply not working as advertised. a shipper asked me this week, ask the fmc just mandate a master grade chassis pool for all chassies in l.a., long beach, san pedro bay? the answer is. no and i do not mean to suggest that congress should give it such over arching, and overreaching authority. >> i'm sorry to interrupt, i'm running out of time, so what you are doing about it? >> so all of these issues are being sorted through and addressed by commissioner di's fact finding investigation that process is brought together the industry stakeholders, that, from across the spectrum,
they're meeting today, but this is one of the multiple number of meetings. four areas have been identified as opportunity for development. one is standard and transparent language. for detention demurrage. two is clear, simple and accessible billing and dispute resolution processes. three, standard evidence that would be relevant to resolving these disputes. the billing disputes. and consistent notice to the cargo interests of container availability to pick up the, at the marine terminals. her report will be due september of this year, and we will provide you and the committee that report as soon as it is available. >> okay. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator cantwell? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i thank you and the ranking member, senator markey, for holding this hearing. i feel like the subcommittee is in good hands with two stewards
of very broad maritime state interest and i thank my colleague from nebraska for bringing up this very important freight issue, because i think in the ever-evolving asian market, and the pannamax developments, we cannot be at a standstill when it comes to moving freight and the challenges that we face in moving it cost-effectively is something that we continue to need to put time and energy into to get those products throughout the united states into asian markets. so i'm going to focus my attention if i could, on admiral schultz and thank you for the coast guard, the mission that the coast guard must meet is, i think 11 different areas, and obviously, you do it with the most minimal budget, so we appreciate the service of the coast guard. and you. i could ask about, i like the fact that the coast guard is modernizing its work force, which you mentioned in your opening testimony, thank you for
that, you're on the cutting edge of family leave policy, would love to talk to you about what we need to do for day care and housing, and i know that in the pacific northwest, we have some creosote issues so i want to make sure we pay attention to the infrastructure needs on running the coast guard as well. but i'm going to focus my attention on two qui, no surprise, art tick and ice breakers and as we continue and i hear your commitment this morning to upgrading and the budget proposals more resources, for an ice breaker fleet, but i am just, i still don't know what we need to do, and this is my question, do we need to do more here, in the nation's capital, to document the major transformation that the arctic passage is going to provide for shippers? and do we have everything we need from the imo to make that route, you know, successful, in a coordinated function with what
other nations are doing? i have, since there are many alaskan natives that live in washington state, i have had the chance to visit with many of the alaskan native corporations and it is amazing to me to find that they are being called on by the russians and the chinese, and they're making major infrastructure investments in alaska. why don't, i think that's, that's good for alaska, and that's good for the united states. but it does raise the question, where is the united states in making this infrastructure investment for a north pole passage of cargo container, what is going to be a new opportunity for us in the united states? so do we have all of the information necessary to successfully convince our nation of the scale of this investment that's needed? and on the imo level, do we have that level of investment in understanding with our nations about that route? >> ranking member cantwell,
thank you for the question. i believe we're in a, sort of a different paradigm today. i mention weed are going to roll out an update to our arctic strategy, our outlook at the end of the month. there is a national strategy, arctic strategy coming out of the white house in the near future, the department of defense and navy strategies. i think we're having the conversations much more so today than in previous years. i think we have influenced the space. what has changed in the arctic, we talk about a peaceful arctic, safety, security, type focus, and we're now having a conversation about a competitive arctic. china has been up in the arctic here, you know, 70% of the last seven, eight years, with their research vessel, the scha-long number one. and they're up there potentially doing other research and they have other interests and they're paying attention to what we do here as a nation as we field through the department of defense fifth generation fighters in placing lice almandorf, so it is a competitive space. i talked in my opening statement about presence equals influence and we have to project
sovereignty. and healy, we have a medium research vessel and she was up there in the foul supporting noaa, national science foundation and naval reconnaissance, but that's science type work. we need a more continued presence up there. this first polar security cutter starts the conversation. but as i mentioned, most of that capacity will go to the antarctic, so the conversation would be on -- >> we're going to look with very vigilant eyes on that competitiveness report, because we feel like, i personally feel like we should be doing more. quickly, and maybe for the record, you know, the 2010, bill required vessel operators to complete a safety and stability training course, and i know that the coast guard, i want to know when you're going to begin that rule making process. obviously, the heart breaking sinking of the destination, is at least it looks like the
incident is, requirements for safety may have helped in that situation, so when will we get this rule making? >> senator, if i could get back to you the specific data. i don't have that there. obviously maritime safety is a primary constant. you know, 228-year mission for the united states coast guard. i would like to get back to you with a firm data on that, i don't have that here at this point. >> i may submit some further questions on the destination and that issue. so thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, ma'am. >> thank you, senator cantwell. senator blumenthal? >> thanks, mr. chairman and thank you for holding this hearing. thank you all for being here, commandant, particularly pleased to welcome a connecticut native, and a graduate of two of our best school, the coast guard academy, and the university of connecticut. and thank you to the men and women who serve with you in the coast guard. i wonder if you could update us
as to efforts which we have discussed in the past, involving possible discrimination based on either gender or race at the coast guard academy. i know that you have sought to counter and address that problem, and i'd like you, for the record, to update us, because i think that those kinds of failings could have an impact on our national security. the coast guard is essential to our national security. and i think you agree with me that any kind of discrimination ought to be addressed, thwarted, stopped. >> senator, absolutely. first and foremost, across the united states coast guard, including the academy, we strive to have an environment where it is supportive of people of all, of both genders, of all cultural
background, all experiential back grounds. we are a better united states coast guard when we're a more diverse coast guard. that is all about inclusivity. you hear me talk incessantly about being a more inclusive coast guard, our coast guard more representative of the nation we serve. we have had some challenges up there in new london. we had a whistleblower case here recently. we protect whistleblowers in the coast guard. the dhs inspector general sent their report to secretary nielsen who forwarded that to me. we have acted on each and every recommendation in that report. we still have a little bit of ground to close on some training updates, to make sure our supervisors are better trained on bullying and harassment type policies and that will be wrapped up here in the next month or so. but we take that very seriously. the superintendent is fully committed. we have an eclipse weekend coming up. it is going on this week. some of your house colleagues i believe, congressman courtney will be attending some of those events up there. that is, we're looking at our
equity. we have an equity mind set at new london, to make sure if you're a female cadet, if you're an african-american cadet, hispanic, asia-pacific, you have the same opportunities toacademy through other interests. the environment isn't racing at all and that has the enterprise, coast guard headquarters commitment, my personal commitment, the superintendent's commitment and i look forward to changing the narrative around that. i'd like the academy to be the most inclusive. it is a tremendous institution. we have to make sure we're working inside the fence line and we have to work on the narrative and national perception outside the fence line. with err 40% female in the cadet corps, that is fantastic. if you go up there female cadets are in leadership, the regimental commander is a female doing great things. you have my full commitment to this situation. >> thank you. and i think you suggested and
commit that had there would be some kind of town halls or public events that would give you or others in the coast guard an opportunity to voice some of the positions that you have just taken. >> senator, we are working here with the local chapters of the naacp, we have much -- we have expanded the local relationship here, inviting them into meetings. i sent the vice common up here to meet with the faculty senate individually. he met with a wide cross section of the faculty. i was here for the cadet annual leadership address. we are taking these issues head-on. the difficult conversations are the absolute necessary conversations we have and we will not shy away from those, sir, and we will do this in as open and transparent fashion as possible. >> thank you. i noticed in your testimony you said that the coast guard is, in your words, appropriately positioned in the department of homeland security. we've had some discussion, i
don't know whether it's been raised here, apologize that i had a couple of other committee hearings, about the positioning of the coast guard, most especially after the issue with payment of the coast guard which i found absolutely abhorrent. it was a disgrace, utterly shameful, to deprive the courageous and dedicated men and women of the coast guard of pay for a single day, let alone 35 days. so i take it your word that you think the coast guard is appropriately positioned, but i wonder whether there is any value to considering somehow changing the statutes so that that absence of pay never happens again, and so that at least for pay purposes and maybe in terms of some other organizational issues, the coast
guard is deemed to be a branch of our armed services, which, as you also note in your testimony, it certainly is. >> senator, thank you for that question and thank you for your words of support to the men and women of the coast guard. the shut don was tough. i would say this, sir, you know, we as the fifth armed service only armed service located outside the department of defense do find ourselves in a different position in the federal budget. we are in the discretionary non-defense part of the budget. you know, for the department writ large speaking of one of 22 components within the department i would like to see a broadening of the conversation of maybe a security and nonsecurity conversation about the federal budget because i think that would roll dhs up into the same conversation with dod because we have an essential contributor to national security and homeland security. those are politics above my head. in terms of our proper placement, i do believe we are in an appropriate position within the department of homeland security, our mission
is from border security, drug intra diction. we are a law enforcement agencies so posse comitatus creates some unique challenges. the house t & i committee passed hr 367 to pay our coast guard parody act. the chairman spoke about efforts afoot here in the senate. i think some safety measure, legislative safety measure, something in the defense authorization act tied to the coast guard authorization act that linked us to the other armed services might be the artful way to make sure the fifth and smallest of the armed services is not left on the sidelines in some type of -- obviously none of us want another federal shutdown, but were that to happen and were there to be a decision that, you know, the coast guard and dhs was outside of a conversation about the other services, there is a linkage there. i'd like to not see this happen to the men and women of the fifth armed service in the future, sir. >> well, i appreciate that you are approaching this issue so thoughtfully.
you happen to have before you right now two members of the armed services committee and i think we can consult with you on some of your ideas in greater depth. but i really feel there is a difference between the defense function that you perform and a lot of the other law enforcement functions that are the work of the department of homeland security, which may be unrelated to defense or even security. so i think we need to resolve some of these issues. not only for the sake of the coast guard, you may be, as you say, the fifth, the smallest, i don't know whether you are the fifth, you are one of them, but no less important than any of the other armed services. so i think this is an anomalous situation that we need to address. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator, as i mentioned in my
opening statement there is a portion of the coast guard operating funds that come through defense readiness out of defense -- we're trying to have a conversation within our department and across the river, that number has been static since senator stephens upped that back in 2001. for 18 years no cost of living adjustment. our contributions in support of the geographic combatant commanders, the defense readiness missions has swelled from that 340 number of yesteryear 18 years ago to almost a billion dollars today. i think there is a righteous conversation that we would welcome the opportunity to inform. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator blumenthal. admiral, i think that, you know, you certainly see the commitment and the interest in a bipartisan way to address this issue and i think working closely with you and your team we will -- you have our commitment to continue to work that both on the commerce committee and the armed services committee which a number of us actually sit on both of those as senator blumenthal mentioned. let me -- i want to ask a bit
more of a specific question. admiral schultz, of course, on the issue of safety with regard to our maritime and fishing industry, it's critical, it's one of our most important missions certainly. there was a rec la tore review task force that was set up by the coast guard in response to the presidential executive order 13777 and as you know a large, actually majority portion of america's fishing fleet resides in the northwest arctic area off the coast of alaska. in our fishing industry they actually met with the wonderful men and women of the united fishermen of alaska, ufa as we call them, i know you've met with them before as well. they sent a list of unnecessary and obsolete regulations to the coast guard in 2017. again, not to cut corners on safety, but things that they
thought being on the front lines that we could work on to streamline regulations. and they are still waiting a response from the coast guard as it relates to this regulatory reform initiative. can i get your commitment to have a high level member of the coast guard meet with the ufa to discuss these regulatory stream lining requests that they had put forward about two years ago. >> chairman, yes, you can. >> thank you. >> look forward to following up with you on that. there was an earlier question by senator fischer that i want to just throw out to all three of you on the importance of the jones act, not only with regard to our economy and national security, but securing our borders, protecting the homeland. i just want to open it up to the witnesses on your views on that.
occasionally, like we have good debates in the congress, of course, there are attempts to get rid of the jones act. one thing that i like to note that a lot of people forget, a lot of other countries, i think, certainly china, korea, have their own version of the jones act. i mean, a much more stringent version. so that's something else i'd like you to consider just in all three of the witnesses, if you can give your sense from your perspective of the wisdom of getting rid of that, particularly as, you know, the korean ship building industry is not going to say, oh, sure, we will have this, no problem, anyone could come in, compete. chinese don't even think about it, right? they run an authoritarian regime and they are all about taking care of their ownership building industry and their maritime. so what's -- what would be the wisdom, national security, economic security, competition globally of getting rid of the jones act which rears its head
on occasion here, you are the experts in our industry and you cover different areas of it i'd just like to open it up to any and all of our witnesses, maybe admiral buzby, we will start with you. >> thank you, sir. a topic that i love to speak on passionately about because i believe it's so important to our country. >> it's misunderstood here, though, a lot of the times. >> it is. >> there are -- and, again, if you can comment on this international component. it's not like other countries, japanese don't have their own version of this. >> there were 98 other countries that have a law similar to our jones act. >> 98? >> 98, yes, sir. >> wow. i didn't know it was that high. >> a recent study revealed that. i would say just -- there are so many aspects of where the jones act impacts our both economic security and national security. i would offer just, you know, one and that is, you know, the operators of our jones act fleet that ply the waters every single day of this nation, inland
waters, coastal waters, you know, they are invested in our country. they are our countrymen. they know what normal looks like. they know when something doesn't look quite right when it's out of sorts. they will say something if they see something. you cannot say that about a foreign operator in our waters. they have no equity. they have no reason to want to report. our people ply those waters every day, they make their living there. they are members of our community. if they see something, they will say something. that is a bona fide layer of our national security. >> that's a great point. anyone else? chairman khouri. >> thank you. number one, thank you for the question. two, i grew up in the u.s. flag fleet inland, as the admiral knows, i had the opportunity after law school to work in this
precise area, worked on trying to put together cabotage trades in -- i was trying to remember -- france, germany, venezuela, throughout the paraguay river system, indonesia and last one of the most interesting to move coal on the grand canal in china. so i have some hands-on experience in dealing with those cabotage rules with various countries as mentioned and they are tough. they are not receptive to foreigners coming into their area, and so i agree with everything that -- >> so wouldn't that be a bit of a unilateral disarmament if we got rid of our jones act? >> you anticipated my next
comment. you anticipated my next point is i never had understood just the simplest fundamental point that with the thousands of miles of u.s. coastline and all of the business that we have here, why would we unilaterally disarm ourselves to all of these -- i'm not trying to make any comment about their seahandship or anything else. >> go ahead. commandant, any thoughts? >> chairman, i would simply add for nearly a century the jones act has been the law of the nation. we're obviously held to that. i think clearly there's implications for national security, for u.s. ship building capacity and expertise. i think any conversation about revisiting the jones act really should look at the national equity, should look at the stakeholders. it needs to be a very considered conversation. it has, in fact, been in place a long time and i think the administrator and the maritime commissioner have spoke to the other points, sir. >> senator markey.
>> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. only about 10% of new england fishermen have been through safety training, yet the fishing safety training program will increase the number of safety training save lives, save the coast guard millions of dollars in search and rescue costs. these programs were first authorized in 2010 and were appropriated money in 2017. the grants are only being allocated for the first time this year. that's the first problem. last year's coast guard authorization act decreased the federal share from 75% to 50% and grant applicants were only notified of this change midway through the grant process this past february. these long delays, sudden changes, loss of federal funding shakes the faith of the grant applicants in the program. senator sullivan and i are looking into a legislative fix that needs help in implementing
the solution. would you commit to working with senator sullivan and me to -- on fixing this problem and renewing trust in the problem? >> ranking member markey, absolutely. we have a shared interest obviously in safety on the water, particularly in our fishing communities. that's a competitive place for men and women to make a living and you have my commitment on that. >> okay. great. thank you. >> admiral buzby, i'm working on legislation to create a marad program providing federal assistance to harbors for infrastructure improvement. do you think, admiral, that direct federal assistance to improve harbor for our research harbors could protect these federal vessels and help support the education of our mariners? >> are you speaking to upgrading facilities at the maritime academy -- >> yes, at the academies and where the training ships are, yeah. >> certainly as the owners of those vessels, especially these
new national security multi--mission vessels that we are going to soon be sending to the academies, we are certainly highly interested in making sure they have secure burrows for these national assets. yes, sir, to the extent we can ensure that's a good birth, very important to us. >> if i could come back to you, admiral schultz, on naloxone and drug addiction and the training that we need to make sure that there is, in fact, a rapid distribution of naloxone and then a knowledge as to how to use it. could you talk about how that impacts your force that you are protecting? >> yes, sir, ranking member markey. we have field narcan out of our operational units so if we encounter someone -- it's twofold. a, with he want to protect the men and women out there, you know, the fentanyl, these
derivatives of fentanyl, very dangerous even if we're working through a ship, you open the space, the dust could pose a risk to our men and women doing front line law enforcement and rescue work. if we encounter a fisherman or recreational boater in distress we have the ability to offer assistan assistance. we are looking to how we should position ourselves as an organization dealing with this national crisis with the opioids and fentanyl. >> do you think that the coast guard should expand the practice of training personnel in terms of the use of into technology? >> sir, we're training our folks that are carrying it currently, but if there's more to that we're certainly willing to work with your staff to understand what your intent would be, sir. >> and i'd love to talk about drug interdiction in general, coming into our country. we know that fentanyl largely comes in through mexico from
china, they use our mail system to send it into our country, but we also know that there are huge flows of cocaine that come up from south america, other places, that just are exacerbating our epidemic of drug addiction in our country. admiral, can you step back a little bit, give us your overview of this drug problem and the interdiction strategies which you want to implement and any other resources that you might think that you need because it is imperative that we just have all hands on deck, so to speak, to fight it. >> ranking member markey, thank you for the question. our work in thwarting illicit drugs that are coming to the united states is predominantly against the cocaine threat. 95% of the cocaine that departs from the andean ridge where all
the coke in the world is produced, 95% heading north comes out of colombia. if you kind of look in the last decade colombia was on a track to eradicate more hectors of cocaine every year for many years. adds president santos, the predecessor was marching colombia out of a 52-year insurgency they made political decisions. coke cultivation and the derivatives were planting coke everywhere. there's more coke than there has been ever before grown in colombia. the new administration is keenly focused on that, i think they've tripled their manual eradication from previous years as a clear testament that they are stepping into this. they will not manually eradicate on this, interdiction is a key part of that. we the united states coast guard are partnering with the u.s. southern command, i'm a force provider to the u.s. southern command. when you look at the cocaine threat 85% of the drugs in the
transit that's that region once it leaves the source country they are territory waters where it transits through the oceans until it arrives here, the cocaine is not generally coming directly to the united states. 85% is in the eastern pacific ocean, you know, on the left side of the central american corridor, 15% spread across the caribbean, from the western caribbean to the eastern caribbean eye listen chain. the majority of our coast guard efforts are in that eastern -- eastern pacific transit zone, i mentioned -- i will roll it up into sort of a three-year statistic. in the last three years we have removed 1.4 million pounds of cocaine and brought 1,800 smugglers to the u.s. criminal justice system for prosecution. we have the cycle of success. when we bring those drug smugglers to the department of justice for prosecution they're getting stiff sentences but there's give and take. a 20 years sentence might be reduced to a 13 year sentence, they give intelligence it completes the cycle. we have visibility on 80 rs to
85% of those drug movements in the eastern pacific. we have capacity -- >> what do you mean by you have visibility of -- >> so we have intelligence, derived from multi-source, human, all different types of intelligence that tells us knowledge on about 85% of those vessel movements. typically it's mostly noncommercial so it's fishing vessels, these low profile vessels, a new smuggling commodity, it's the go fast, a multi-engine smaller time penga open-type boat. we have visibility on those, we have resources to action about 25% or 30% of that. >> so you're saying you can see -- >> it's a capacity conversation. >> -- 95% of what's trying to get into our country that ultimately winds up addicting and killing americans? >> i would say this, senator, it is -- we see about 85% of it from its point of departure. >> okay. >> it's not directly coming to the united states. those drugs make their first
stop in the central american corridor, mexico is increasingly the first stop country. we interdict the drugs, we remove the most from the system. my opening statement said we remove more drugs than all other agencies, federal, state, local combined on an annual basis. that's the place to get it. there is a conversation about capacity. there is capable ships, national security cutters, offshore patrol cutters, the congress and administration have been supportive, we need to keep our foot on the gas, maritime patrol aircraft, congress continues to support us with additional c 130 j aircraft, that e. a long range aircraft. we had funding in both the last couple years' budgets to field small uas, fielding scan eagle, two to four scan eagle units and national security cutters, that's a gap filler >> but you have more -- you have -- even with that what would your capacity be to be able to -- >> sir, there's some studies that say you could have 15 to 17
major cutters or gasities with a law enforcement attachment to take a bigger bite out of the conversation. >> i commit to the u.s. south come commander and his commander, i commit four ships on a daily basis. >> four. >> i'm generally staffing through six and eight. we are going beyond or commitment. i commit multiple airplanes airborne use of force helicopters, the 20 budget actually allows you to add a fifth airborne use of helicopter to a steady persistent presence. we throw just about everything take -- >> i appreciate that. in this modern era as we fully understand the drug epidemic in our country the number of people who die every single year, for example, i'm going to go to fentan fentanyl, but 2,000 people, almost 2,000 died last year in massachusetts where 2% of americans --
>> cocaine first time use is up in the last year for many years. cocaine laced with fentanyl is up. it's an epidemic. more people are dying from drug-related violence and overdose than vehicle accidents in the nation. it's a clarion call as a nation. >> we have moved on in massachusetts from cocaine and heroin and prescription drugs to fentanyl, which is coming in from china. >> it's coming, as you said, mail order, one individual -- >> through mexico. >> one individual and a computer is a cartel. >> if people were dying across the whole country at the same rate they are dying in massachusetts it would be 100,000 people a year. that would be two vietnam wars every year that we would be losing, that's the rate at which they're dying in massachusetts. a million people over ten years. that's just coming through fentanyl aperture. again, cocaine is a feeder that gets people set up for ultimately the cocaine being laced with fentanyl, which from the drug dealer's perspective is
a much more economical source of revenue for them because they can make so much more because fentanyl is so inexpensive. so what you're doing is really from my perspective, from a security perspective this subcommittee's name, it goes right to the protection of the people in our country. we appreciate what you do on a daily basis at the coast guard, but you're telling us you need more resources. if this is the mission and you're saying that military itself has to dedicate more resources to this mission, to be able to provide an interdiction of these drugs that ultimately then are all intended towards making their way up into the united states of america. so i want to learn more about the resource gap that exists given the fact that you are able
to see it as it's beginning its trip up to our country, but ultimately with unfortunately limited resources to be able to deal with the -- with the actual problem in terms of how it can allude the drag net that we set up and ultimately make it to our borders. so for me it's our top issue from a security perspective, just too many funerals, too many people dying and if i could just -- i apologize to you, mr. chairman, if you could just go to your -- your perspective in terms of whether or not the chinese might start to use our shipping lanes to bring fentanyl into our country as well. the profit is just so high. >> yeah, senator, ranking member markey, that's a good question. i mean, what we've seen i've been at this counternarcotics business for 36 years as a coast guardsman and it's an adaptive
adversary, when you squeeze on one part of the supply chain they morph their behaviors to another. they are still working through the mail system. they are working with the u.s. mail service and looking at new technologies and how you can define that. we work -- we have a flag service at the task force west that looks at precursor chemicals and how they are shipped across the oceans. some of those chemicals are duly used, used in commercial applications, it's difficult to call them out but we try to get large bulk loads of chemicals. there is an international partnership component that goes with this. about two-thirds of the activities in the eastern caribbean are enabled with some partner nation contribution, about a third of them, 30%, 40% are partner nation end game. we have intelligence, we don't have the capacity. >> we don't have the capacity, it's a very important sentence for us to hear. >> yes, sir. >> because how many more americans are going to die from
that than any threat from kim jong-un or from any -- i won't go down the whole litany, but all the stories that are front page above the fold, you know, talking about security risk to us pale in comparison to this as a threat to people on the streets of the united states and what we're putting into that fight to try to reduce the jep ard yes to those families. we thank each and every one of you for your service and thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator markey. i'm going to end with two additional questions, if that's okay. our witnesses. admiral buzby, this is kind of a broader question, you know, we're working on reauthorizing the fast act here. there has been some interest in a maritime supply chain title in the next reauthorization bill that would enhance some of mere rad's current authorized programs like the port development program, marine highway program and i'd like your views on that. additionally, there has been a
lot -- there hasn't been enough attention and, again, this is more kind of commerce, armed services committee on this issue of the strategic ports and how important they are not just on the military side, but from the perspective of meeting the needs of the military. i'm sure you're quite familiar with the one strategic port we have in alaska which is the port of anchorage, which is very strategic not just for the supplies and economic vitality of the state, but also our very large military footprint in alaska which is growing, we're going to have over 100 fifth generation fighters based in alaska, f-22s, f-35s in the next couple years because of our strategic location. so could you comment on that as
well? i know there's ongoing litigation. we need to -- my view, i haven't been involved in it, we need to resolve that relatively soon here because of the importance of that port to the entire state and to the done friday's national defense, but can you comment on both of those issues that fall under your purview? the first one on the fast act and then on the strategic ports and their importance. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, we at the maritime administration and at the department, you know, view the shore side part of the merchant marine equation obviously with -- with equal interest and importance because just all the ships sailing around carrying whatever goods they're carrying has to land those goods at some point. that's where the true intermodalism occurs in our country is when the ships transfer to rail, to trucks, to
maritime highways and all of that needs to function together not only in that local area, in that port, but how it plugs into the larger national supply chain. so as was pointed out earlier, you know, with the larger ships coming in, with the uptick in maritime traffic that we fully expect to see, our ports need to be modernized, they need to become more efficient and those connectors are not optimized for these large loads that are starting to come in. when a 22,000 te uconn taner ship rolls into port all of a sudden discharges a very large number of containers, that quickly can clog a road network or even a rail network. to the extent that we can focus on those going down the road and programs that help us -- help us help maritime ports and terminals get more efficient, i
think that's an important thing to keep track of. in terms of the strategic ports obviously we pay particular attention to those because they have that military aspect 17 strategic ports anchorage of course being one of them. we have to real lie on those to move our armed forces. again, it gets back to that -- the notion that there is a very distinct commercial aspect to our nation being able to go to war and it flows through those ports on commercial merchant ships to the front. so that whole part of the equation has to be there and has to be working correctly as well. >> well, thank you. and, again, you have a lot of members on this committee that straddle both armed services and the commerce committee, which i think is important. for the coast guard, but also for mere rad and like i also mentioned we're building up the military in alaska. that port is about 90% of all the imports and supplies for the whole state come through that
port, so i know there's ongoing litigation, i'm hopeful that we are going to be able to get to a spot where we can resolve that and a then build up that port in a way that secures it not just on the economic side for my state but importantly for mere rad and the armed services perspective, the military component with the increasing buildup of our military forces, missile defense, f-35s, expeditionary troops, the coast guard we're building up in alaska in a significant way. my final question, commandant, i just mentioned to mention -- and, again, you do such a great job your men and women do heroic work on the search and rescue coverage, but it's a lot to cover as you know, district 17, i think, is bigger than the rest of the country combined as some enormous area of coverage. we're working together on the
recapitalization program to get more assets to alaska in terms of ships and aircraft, the c 130-js are en route to kodiak which is a great addition, but i was informed recently that major cutter hours as well as aircraft hours are down when compared to previous years with regard to coverage of the bering sea and the aleutian islands. i don't know if that's true, maybe you have a view on that. is that a maintenance challenge that's fred kagt that? if it is true. or is there something else contributing to the reduction of hours in that really important area particularly as it relates to fisheries and coverage for safety? >> chairman, first and foremost, thanks for your support in the question. we strive from a planning factor to have a ship every calendar
bay covering down in the bering sea. last year we fell short on that on two days. six months into this year as we start the first month of the last six months of the year here we lost about two weeks of major cutter coverage when the monroe went down, the 378 high endurance cutter that's approaching half century in service. we had an unexpected casualty at this that left her unchartered for an extended period. i think we sent the stratton up from thousands of miles away to try to cover that gap. with we are absolutely committed to that 1-0 coverage factor. >> and that's been the traditional -- >> that's been the tradition in the last several years. when we mitigate that we try to have aviation assets. we forward deploy to cold bay. these fast response cutters they have the ability to cross the gulf of squa. these new ships we're fielding it's six fast response cutters
that worked the 2 on 1-2 plan for kodiak and with your support you've been carrying the water on that, we're british testify. we will put the 287s there. we will have a significant increase in capacity. the 110s program for 1,800 hours we're probably getting 1,300 hours. sophisticated command and control better capability in terms of small boats, stern launch significantly more tonnage, much more reach. so i think you are going to see 100 additional bodies that are maintainers, supporters, eight extra sailors. there are a lot of goodness in terms of capacity that's going to work at fischer reese that are important to you and safety in alaska with the coast guard. the third and fourth of the offshore patrol cutters will be destined to the kodiak and alaskan waterfront. those will be 364 foot ships, tremendous tonnage and ability to see helicopters. small uas on there.
you will see a real uptick in coast guard capacity in alaska, sir. >> i appreciate it and look forward to continuing to work on the increase in capacity and so just -- so some of that lack of coverage this year was due to the -- and, again -- >> it was -- >> monroe breakdown. >> yes. >> and then the tragedy -- >> that ship is increasingly difficult to maintain, sir, just from availability of parts, but we are committed. we have the fleet we have until we have the replacement fleet we're getting. >> you certainly have my commitment as chairman of this committee to not only fully support but help to accelerate the recapitalization of the coast guard fleet. so whatever you need, just let us no he. >> thank you, chairman. listen, i want to thank everybody again, it's and a very informative hearing, very important positions all three of you gentlemen have, i think everybody is working hard and doing a good job. these are important oversight hearings for our ability to work
with the agencies to understand what your priorities are, what some of our concerns are and then work together to move forward to address both. so the hearing record will remain open for two weeks during this time senators may submit additional questions for the record, upon receipt the witnesses are respectfully requested to submit their answers to the committee as soon as they can. i want to thank the witnesses again for appearing today. this hearing is now adjourned.
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