Monday, February 5, 2024
Today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and DOT officials held a meeting with maritime labor organizations and U.S. flag shipping companies to discuss the ongoing situation in the southern Red Sea and western Gulf of Aden and its impact on shipping and the freedom of navigation in the region.
Secretary Buttigieg expressed his gratitude to mariners for their bravery and work moving goods across the world that the American people count on, even in the face of danger. He affirmed that the safety of mariners is the Department’s top priority and that national security officials continue to closely monitor attacks on merchant vessels in close coordination with the White House and interagency partners. Secretary Buttigieg stated that the Maritime Administration was keeping a close eye on impacts to U.S. Flag vessels and mariners and coordinating closely with U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and the Department of Defense, as well as with the Federal Maritime Commission on shipping impacts.
U.S. carriers – which included participants in the Maritime Security Program, Tanker Security Program, and Cable Security Fleet – voiced that the safety of their crews remains their priority. Industry participants stated that communication and support from the U.S. government regarding the situation has been strong. Labor organizations expressed that communication and information is key for mariners during security situations like this. Participants expressed appreciation for the Maritime Administration for its continued advocacy for U.S. flag carriers.
Both labor and industry stakeholders shared recommendations and feedback with DOT officials for the interagency to ensure future communication is ongoing and open where possible, secure where needed, and ensures the safety of mariners.
The meeting took place in the context of a comprehensive U.S. government effort to protect freedom of navigation and ensure resilient global supply chains by responding decisively to Houthi rebels’ escalating attacks against commercial vessels. President Biden has made clear that he will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect mariners and the free flow of international commerce as necessary.
DOT has been engaged in frequent communication with U.S. flagged carriers, merchant mariners, labor, ports, retailers, railroads, and more supply chain stakeholders about ongoing challenges in the Red Sea.