According to the International Chamber of Shipping, around 90 percent of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry. Without shipping, the import and export of goods on the scale necessary for the modern world would not be possible.
As recognized in the latest N.C. Senate budget proposal, the infrastructure of our own North Carolina State Ports deserves the attention of the legislature so our ports can keep up with expanding seaborne trade and continue to bring economic benefits to the state and consumers across our great nation.
All this trade is only possible with a strong merchant fleet. In my (biased) opinion - having sailed not less than seven seas in my time in the U.S. Navy – U.S. merchant mariners are unparalleled in their seamanship and provide a key contribution to the safety and security of seaborne commerce wherever they serve.
In times of peace, US merchant mariners provide dedicated service, both in commercial fleets and onboard ships employed under the Military Sealift Command to provide auxiliary support vessels to the U.S. Navy.
In times of war, the U.S. Merchant Marine takes a larger role – the largest of which was during World War II, when over 1,500 ships were sunk by enemy forces. Statistics vary, but credible sources indicate that of the approximately 243,000 US merchant mariners serving in World War II, approximately 9,521 were killed at sea, as a POW or died from enemy inflicted wounds ashore.
So, why this article?
This is written out of admiration and respect, and to educate the readers of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal about a topic this maritime law practitioner believes is under-reported.
This is not only a tribute to our merchant mariners, but also an invitation for all to join in the upcoming observance of Maritime Day to honor the hard work and terrible sacrifices of the mariners and merchant seamen, with the dedication of a new monument to the men and women who have given so much to their country by sailing aboard the vessels of our merchant marine.
But we cannot simply build a monument, give a few speeches and pat ourselves on the back for not forgetting our history. We owe it to the hundreds of thousands of merchant mariners who have gone before - the same hundreds of thousands for whom this memorial is dedicated – to, as Americans, do everything in our power to ensure the continued existence and strength of the American merchant marine. We owe it to them to build upon what they started. The merchant marine of today will stand as a living memorial to those honored by the dedication of the new memorial in Wilmington.
Join local dignitaries and merchant mariners for the celebration, set for 11 a.m. on Monday, May 22 (rain or shine), at Veterans Memorial Wall, located on Water Street between Princess and Chestnut streets in Wilmington. If you can, arrive early (approximately 10:45 a.m.) to witness a fleet of local vessels paying tribute with horns and the spraying of firehoses - a time-honored tradition in itself.
I hope to see you there. And please, when you meet merchant mariners, thank them for their service! God bless America and the United States Merchant Marines.
Geoff Losee can be reached by visiting www.rountreelosee.com, by email at [email protected] or by calling (910) 763-3404. Rountree Losee LLP has provided a full range of legal services to individuals, families and businesses in North Carolina for over 110 years. As well-recognized leaders in each of the areas in which they practice, the attorneys of Rountree Losee provide clients a wealth of knowledge and experience. In their commitment to provide the highest quality legal service, they handle a wide range of legal issues with creativity, sensitivity and foresight.
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