Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
M/V Liberty Passion Christening Ceremony
March 3, 2017
Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here today to welcome the addition of the Liberty Passion to the Maritime Security Program (MSP) fleet.
A U.S.-flagged, sealift capacity -- crewed by U.S. merchant mariners -- is vital to our national security. Ships are the most reliable and economical way to carry armored and other vehicles, as well as ammunition, equipment and supplies. The Liberty Passion can carry as many main battle tanks as one hundred C-17 heavy lift aircraft, with a fraction of the fuel consumption. And it can sail during all kinds of weather. This capacity and reliability provides critical commercial sealift and intermodal capabilities to our armed forces, when they need it most.
Today we are celebrating a public private partnership that is strengthening America’s merchant marine, as well as America’s armed forces. Built in 2016, the Liberty Passion will be the newest ship in the MSP and add 165,000 square feet of deck area into U.S. Sealift service.
It will be the third ship that Liberty Global Logistics has provided to the MSP program. It joins two Roll-On/Roll-Off ships-- the Liberty Pride and the Liberty Promise-- which are already in service. Together, these three ships contribute nearly 400,000 square feet of capacity to the Maritime Security Program fleet.
These vessels – and Liberty’s three other U.S.-flag ships – are also enrolled in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) program. VISA is a partnership between the Maritime Administration, the Department of Defense’s U. S. Transportation Command, and the maritime industry. It guarantees our country ready access to ships – and their global logistics capacity – when the need arises.
They are investments for greater economic activity and prosperity during peace, and greater strength and security in times of war.
This is an exciting time for everyone involved in infrastructure investments. In his joint address to Congress, the President announced that the time has come for a new program of national rebuilding. The President will ask the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in our country’s infrastructure—including maritime infrastructure. It will be financed through both public and private capital, creating millions of new jobs.
It’s something we can all agree on: it’s time to refresh, refurbish and revitalize our country’s critical infrastructure.
So on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation and MARAD, I welcome Liberty Passion to the Maritime Security Program fleet in support of our country’s national defense and the U.S. Merchant Marine.