The shipbuilding and ship repairing industry has always been a core strength of our nation. It has enabled the United States to protect and project its prosperity, power and influence internationally. A book in my office signed by shipbuilder William Webb illustrates the point. Mr. Webb inherited his father’s shipyard in 1840 and built over 130 of the fastest clipper sailing vessels; he later built the largest and most celebrated steamships of his era.
Those were glory years for the U.S. maritime industry, an era when the shipping industry was synonymous with American sovereignty. While it is no longer the nation’s most profitable export manufacturing industry, U.S. shipbuilding and ship repair continues to be a major economic engine, as critical to our national security and commerce as it was in colonial times. Our founding fathers recognized that our maritime assets enabled us to conduct international trade, protect our shores, and grow the U.S. economy toward independence, and they enacted strong policy to protect it. Today, these vital industries fortify America’s ongoing status as a maritime nation, with capacity to build and maintain a modern, safe fleet to defend U.S. interests at home and abroad.
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