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News Release
FOR RELEASE - May 19, 2005
Contact: Aaron Ellis,

American Association of Port Authorities
Phone: (202) 792-4033

Nation Pays Tribute to Ports, Maritime Industry as Part of National Maritime Day Observance

ALEXANDRIA, Va.  (May 19, 2005) – Sunday, May 22, is officially National Maritime Day.  It is the day the nation—and particularly those in the U.S. maritime industry who are responsible for handling America’s imports, exports, domestic shipments and its millions of annual cruise passengers—honor those who currently serve and have served as merchant mariners in service to their country.  On a larger scale however, National Maritime Day is a day to pay special tribute to the benefits that the maritime industry provides this country and to all who live here.

According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, which is honoring America’s maritime heroes today in a ceremony at Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Navy Memorial, the U.S. marine transportation system annually:

  • Moves more than 2 billion tons of domestic and international freight

  • Imports 3.3 billion barrels of oil to meet U.S. energy demands

  • Transports 134 million passengers by ferry

  • Serves 78 million Americans engaged in recreational boating

  • Hosts approximately 10 million cruise ship passengers

Nearly every American depends on the maritime industry for the products they use everyday, whether the goods are imported or produced domestically. Many others depend on the maritime industry for their livelihoods. According to Pennsylvania-based consultant Martin Associates, the annual economic impacts of U.S. waterborne cargo movements provide:

  • 1.1 million direct, induced and indirect jobs

  • 3.8 million waterborne export-generated jobs

  • $44 billion in personal income

  • $56 billion in transportation service revenue

  • $729 billion to the nation's Gross Domestic Product

  • $16.1 billion in federal, state and local taxes

Because National Maritime Day falls on a Sunday this year, celebrations honoring the occasion are taking place both this week and next. For example, the Propeller Club of the United States and the Jacksonville (Fla.) Port Authority, or JAXPORT, are commemorating National Maritime Day today with an event at the JAXPORT Cruise Terminal that includes a high school musical ensemble, scholarship awards, a $1,000 cruise voucher prize drawing, and a speech by Jacksonville City Council President Elaine Brown.  Brown will also present a wreath to the crew of a commercial pilot boat, who will take wreath to the Atlantic Ocean and cast it into the sea in memory of fallen mariners.

On Sunday, the 9th Annual Port of Wilmington (N.C.) Maritime Day Festival will feature port and vessel tours, musical entertainment, children’s activities, a wreath laying ceremony and speeches by local maritime dignitaries, including Brig. Gen. David L. Jennette, Jr., of the North Carolina National Guard, and Tom Eagar, the North Carolina State Ports Authority’s chief executive officer.

Also on Sunday, the Port of Los Angeles will participate in the annual National Maritime Day Ceremony and Luncheon, hosted by the American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial Committee.  About 500 people are expected for the 10 a.m. solemn ceremony, featuring elected officials, veterans and local religious and civic leaders, at the San Pedro AMMV Monument in San Pedro.  The ceremony will be followed by casting of wreaths on the water and a luncheon.

On May 25, the Port of Duluth-Superior (Minn.) will observe National Maritime Day on board the harbor excursion vessel Vista Star with a dockside memorial service, proclamations by Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson and Superior Mayor Dave Ross, and a keynote address by Minnesota State Rep. Tom Huntley, who is also chairman of the Great Lakes Commission, a bi-national agency representing the eight U.S. states and two Canadian provinces that border the Great Lakes.

President Franklin Roosevelt inaugurated National Maritime Day on May 22, 1933, in commemoration of the first voyage of a steam ship across the Atlantic Ocean.  On May 22, 1819, the S.S. Savannah departed for Europe under steam. Although the ship was also rigged with sails, it paved the way for future steamship success.  Today, National Maritime Day honors merchant mariners and shipping in general.

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