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Jacksonville, Florida. And you must, if you want to come into the Coast Guard Reserve and there's a billet at Jacksonville, Florida, you must live within a certain distance of that billet, as a general rule. And you must have certain talents to go into that billet. If not, they won't take you even though you're interested into coming into the United States Coast Guard Reserve.
They've relieved that somewhat. We ask that they go so far as to say, if at anytime you don't take a Coast Guard reservist, you report it into headquarters and we'll see if we can find a place where we can put this person that wants to come into the Coast Guard Reserve.
Mr. GILCHREST. That's not now done?
Captain BECKER. No, sir. In addition, they haven't given quotas, they have quotas on the active duty side, they haven't
given quotas for recruiting reservists. We understand that's one of the things that's under consideration. The other item I'd say is, as I sit back and think about this, as I have on many a weekend, if the United States Army can make its reserve recruiting requirements -not to criticize those who might be attracted to the Army-I would think that the people would be attracted to the United States Coast Guard Reserve as well, given what the United States Coast Guard Reserve does on the weekends, et cetera, you know, for their two weeks, and does for the country. And so it's got to be some other systemic problem that's causing this ability to just not get there. Whether it's notification to the young kids coming out of high school that these opportunities are available, or whatever, I'm not sure.
Mr. GILCHREST. Well, we'll call on Mr. Clement to continue the questioning.
Mr. CLEMENT. Yes, Captain Becker, you testified before this committee last year on the Coast Guard Reserve problems. Has any. thing improved in the last year with the Coast Guard Reserve program?
Captain BECKER. I think the Coast Guard Reserve program is working well as Team Coast Guard. It's working extremely well. The problem is that they're not getting enough reservists to get up to the numbers and as you know better than I, the modern thought is, in this day and age under constrained budgets, when you don't get there, you cut it, either at the OMB level or by the Congress.
It's my understanding that the Commandant had to personally fight, and we appreciate his doing that, a further cut this year because he didn't reach the 7,600 level. And, as I mentioned to you, the Armed Services Committee has already asked me why they should continue the authorization level at 8,000. At the same time, the Commandant acknowledges they need for 12,000.
Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. Nekvasil, how much do your members pay the Coast Guard for current user fees for services such as shipping space?
Mr. NEKVASIL. I believe the fee is $5,800 for the inspection of the vessels. The individual mariners pay for the renewal of their documents when they upgrade. Those are the fees that I'm aware of right now.
Mr. CLEMENT. I assume that bulk ship holders would simply pass the cost of these navigational aid taxes on to the shippers, and how price-sensitive are many bulk commodities? Could these fees make them uncompetitive in the international market?
Mr. NEKVASIL. Concerning the international market, you must understand my members trade domestically only, in the Jones Act trade. Concerning the effect of these fees, as I said in my testimony, the competition between the various modes of transportation in this country is fierce. You can win a contract or lose a contract on a tenth of a cent per ton. As a trade association, the antitrust laws really preclude us from having much to do with freight rates, we do know that the margins in this industry are not fat, so they cannot absorb the additional costs. What you would see is those cargos that could go to the rail mode would be switching there, or you would see maybe more Canadian iron ore coming in.
Mr. CLEMENT. Mr. Cox. You know I know you got no NAT, but I thought NAT was spelled G-N-A-T, rather than N-A-T.
Mr. Cox. We had a discussion about that, Mr. Clement, and we thought we should call it Government Navigation Assistance Tax 80 we would be correct from the spelling standpoint. I thought it would be important for anybody living around Washington for any time to be aware of the G-N-A-T which is certainly a noxious pest around here during the summertime.
Mr. CLEMENT. I see. Is there any way to quantify how much a given vessel uses or aids to navigation on a voyage. For example, a vessel entering Los Angeles harbor passes relatively few aids, while a vessel entering the New Orleans will pass many?
Mr. Cox. I think that's a very good-it is very complex, and I think that there's an impossible--it's nearly impossible to try and say, you're utilizing that safety navigation more or less than another, because a large vessel is going to use more than one means of confirming its position. Today, I would be very surprised if most vessels weren't relying on Differential Global Positioning to position themselves in our harbors, and aids to navigation that we are familiar with, buoys and let's say range lights and other types of lights. They're probably used as a secondary means of positioning. You might even use a tertiary means such as a picket or grain silo along the waterway.
Mr. CLEMENT. Do any other countries charge for U.S. flagged vessels using their aids to navigation?
Mr. Cox. I was thinking about that as I sat here, and I know that Britain has something they call the light fees, which are assessed. I think there possibly could be some others around. I don't know to what extent that is predicated on aids to navigation, or whether it's a general fee assessed for vessels coming into their waterways. I think that would certainly be one of the distinctions that I would look for as we assess these other nations charging for vessels coming in.
Mr. CLEMENT. Thank you. Mr. Gilchrest.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Clement. I just have one more quick question. I guess it would be basically for Mr. Nekvasil and Mr. Cox. The Admiral mentioned waterways management plan that the Coast Guard was coming up in anticipation of the tripling of water borne commerce, and how we can effectively deal with it at our ports. Have either one of you been privy to that, been consulted about that, know about that?
Mr. NEKVASIL. I believe there was a notice in the Federal Register here in the last few days. I think the first meeting is in New Crleans. They're planning one in Cleveland at the 9th District, but I do not have any–we have not, at Lake Erie, had time to sit down to review the thing, review the proposal in detail.
Mr. Cox. Yes, sir, we do know about it. We've been talking with the Coast Guard for a couple of years about this. What we see as a future problem. Which is that there is going to be a growth in trade and the United States, as the world's main trading partner, is going to participate in that to a great degree.
I was drawn back to some things that I heard when I quit sailing in 1971 and went to work for a company, and I was questioning the future of the maritime industry, much as many of these younger people involved in it now are asking the same questions. And the gentleman that I was working for handed me a piece of paper, and said read this study done by one of the ubiquitous helpers. That study said trade was going to quintuple within the next 20 years. I don't know whether that occurred or not.
Mr. GILCHREST. That was 1971?
Mr. Cox. That was 1971. Now whether that happened, I do not know. But I'm assured it has increased quite a bit. We recognize that within the industry and I think that you're seeing ships that are being designed for 6,000-20-foot equivalent units, 8,000-20-foot equivalent units, they're being designed like that because we know there's going to be the cargo that must be carried.
And I think in this nation, we have spoken with the Coast Guard about our shore-side infrastructure to handle that amount of cargo coming across our docks, the roadways, the rails, the access to the ports, the deepening of the ports, and, in fact, the navigation safety mechanisms available to make sure we're going to get the maximum number of ships coming in and out. We're going to have to look at all these as a nation within in the next 5 years so that we can be prepared for the next 25 years.
And I think the Coast Guard has rightfully grabbed on to the reins of this particular wagon, I guess I should be using maritime analogies.
Mr. GILCHREST. Of the barges.
Mr. Cox. I think that they have rightfully identified it as a priority for the Federal Government to become involved in.
Is it complex? No question it's complex. But we do have to deal with it, and there's no doubt.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Cox.
Captain Becker, Mr. Clement and I are going to invest-80 we could help out a little on our weekends off.
Captain BECKER. Yes, sir. We offered last year to take Mr. Clement in the Coast Guard Reserve.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, gentlemen, very much, you've been very helpful this morning. We'll see you in another year. The hearing is now adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 1:00 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.)
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Captain Fred R. Becker, Jr., JAGC, USN (Ret.)
Director, Naval Affairs
Reserve Officers Association of the United States
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastruct
on The President's Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Request for the
United States Coast Guard
4 March 1998
1 Constitution Avenue, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002-5655 (202) 646-7713
Statement of Captain Fred R. Becker, Jr., JAGC, USN (Ret.), Director, Naval Affairs of the Reserve Officers Association of the United States (ROA) for the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, concerning The President's Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Request for the United States Coast Guard Budget, 5 March 1998.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
It is my pleasure to address this committee concerning the
Fiscal Year 1999 budget request for the United States Coast
First and foremost, the Reserve Officers Association would
like to express its profound gratitude to the Congress, and this
committee, for their strong and vigorous support of the Coast
Guard Reserve during the fiscal year 1998 authorization and
ROA's testimony during the first
session of the 105th Congress addressed a number of concerns
regarding the Coast Guard Reserve, including funding, recruiting, and the provision of much need port security equipment. In recognition of the vital support provided to the nation by today's Coast Guard Reserve, the Congress and this committee responded. Specific examples included:
Report language in the Senate version of the DoD
Authorization bill, expressing concern that the Coast Guard
Reserve's end-strength had fallen significantly below its
authorized and appropriated level for fiscal year 1997 and
requiring a report on Coast Guard Reserve recruiting;
Authorizing, in the FY98 DOD authorization bill, a new
affiliation bonus for enlisted members leaving active duty;
Increasing the level of funding, in the FY98 appropriations