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February 27, 2024

National Maritime Day Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

National Maritime Day Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

National Maritime Day has been celebrated on May 22 across the United States since its creation in 1933, making 2023 the 90th annual celebration. 

May 22 was chosen to honor the anniversary of the day a steamship called the Savannah set sail on the first transoceanic voyage under steam power back in 1819. 

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), part of the Department of Transportation, set this year’s theme as Maritime Moves the Nations: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. MARAD labeled the sections as Yesterday: National Security. Today: Developing Mariner workforce development. Tomorrow: Investing in infrastructure and domestic shipbuilding.

States like Florida have benefited heavily from the maritime industry, with 65,000 jobs created thanks to the industry. On Monday, the Florida Maritime Partnership hosted an event to celebrate National Maritime Day in Jacksonville at the Lone Sailor Statue, which was constructed in 1988 to honor the connection between the city of Jacksonville and the U.S. Navy. 

“Our nation would not be where it is today without its robust maritime industry,” said Laura DiBella, Florida Secretary of Commerce & CEO of Enterprise Florida. “Economic development would not exist without maritime as there are not enough planes, trains, or trucks on this planet to support the amount of cargo moved by ships. This industry is an important economic driver for the state, and it is crucial to move goods throughout the country.” 

The President of the United States also issues an annual proclamation on National Maritime Day. This year, President Biden reiterated his Administration’s “steadfast” support of the Merchant Marine, as well as the Jones Act, and highlighted the critical importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine to the nation.

“The United States Merchant Marine underpins our Nation’s prosperity and upholds our Nation’s highest principles — freedom, liberty, and dignity. Today, and every day, we honor merchant mariners’ service and sacrifice and renew our commitment to stand by their side, from sea to shining sea,” said President Joe Biden in his proclamation for 2023.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this day and to celebrate the United States Merchant Marine and maritime industry with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”

President Biden also called for all vessels sailing under the American flag to dress ship in honor of National Maritime Day. 

According to the findings of a recently updated study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Transportation Institute (TI), the American maritime industry contributes more than $154 billion in total economic output annually and creates $41 billion in labor income.

“This National Maritime Day we are reminded that America, from sea to shining sea, needs a strong domestic maritime industry amid continuing economic challenges and growing national security threats,” said Ku’uhaku Park, President of the American Maritime Partnership, which advocates on behalf of domestic maritime interests. “Today is a day to thank our mariners and maritime workers for their sacrifices during wars, the pandemic, and other national emergencies.  Though America is increasingly divided, there is one thing everyone can agree on – we cannot rely on China and Russia to build, own and crew our ships. The Jones Act fleet has served the country time and again and we are honored to represent an industry that serves such a vital economic purpose in securing hundreds of thousands of jobs, while proving an asset to America’s national security and resilience.”

Many people, organizations, and locations took to social media to celebrate under #nationalmaritimeday. Here is some of what’s been shared:

In addition to National Maritime Day, World Maritime Day, a United Nations day of commemoration, will be celebrated on September 28.

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