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England so that depleted species can replenish. At the same time, we are helping to protect endangered sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. We are also pioneers in the fight against water pollution. Since 1990, the average amount of oil spilled in the United States has dropped from 6.25 million gallons to 1.5 million gallons annually. We work closely with foreign nations and international agencies to reduce the number of marine accidents and resulting spills through improved safety standards for commercial vessels. Our fiscal year 1999 budget request supports our goal of reducing environmental damage to U.S. waterways through our aggressive prevention, enforcement, and response programs.
Mobility The Coast Guard facilitates maritime commerce and eliminates impediments to the movement of goods and people, while ensuring safety as Americans pursue recreational enjoyment of the water. Like congested streets, crowded waterways demand careful policing to ensure safe, equal access for all mariners on America's waterways. Our fleet of buoy tenders maintain some 50,000 federal aids to navigation. We are also completing full implementation of the Differential Global Positioning System to provide mariners with the most accurate navigation information available. Our icebreakers keep shipping lanes open for commercial traffic in winter as well as conduct national interest missions in the Arctic and Antarctic. And our Waterways Management Services coordinate the safe and efficient movement of commercial vessels in congested harbors.
Maritime Security The Coast Guard protects our borders by halting the flow of illegal drugs and aliens through maritime routes, as well as enforcing all federal laws and regulations at sea. Our boarding teams interdict overcrowded boats carrying illegal immigrants into the United States, foil sophisticated attempts to smuggle drugs into our waters, enforce complex international fisheries agreements and domestic fisheries regulations, as well as enforce safety regulations on commercial and recreational vessels. In 1997, the Coast Guard seized a record 103,000 pounds of cocaine and more than 102,000 pounds of marijuana and other illegal drugs being smuggled into the United States. This represents more than a 200 percent increase over our 1996 totals. To strengthen our Caribbean neighbors' abilities to stop these problems before reaching our shores, the fiscal year 1999 budget request includes $2.7 million to operate a Coast Guard cutter as a training ship, which will serve as a support ship for the President's Caribbean Initiative. This cutter will heighten our partnering efforts with our Caribbean neighbors and train their coast guards in interdicting drugs and protecting their economic zones. We have finalized bilateral maritime agreements with eighteen nations in the Caribbean.
National Defense As one of the five armed forces, the Coast Guard enhances regional stability in support of the National Security Strategy, using our unique, relevant maritime capabilities. We perform a range of defense duties for the Department of Defense, such as convoy escort, port security, search and rescue, salvage, surveillance and interdiction, and enforcing embargoes. The Coast Guard also works with foreign naval and maritime forces through training and joint operations, which improve international cooperation and support U.S. national security goals.
Our strategic goals, and this budget request, support the Department of Transportation's strategic goals of safety, human and natural environment, mobility, economic growth and trade, and national security, as well as the President's national security goals.
Investing in the Future The Coast Guard today is not only concerned about maintaining our current level of services, but meeting America's future needs. Our fiscal year 1999 Acquisition, Construction and & Improvements (AC&I) request is structured to provide for the future. The Deepwater Capability Replacement Analysis Project is the linchpin for Coast Guard's future recapitalization efforts. This project represents the systematic replacement of aging Coast Guard cutters and aircraft and their command and control systems. This new system is essential to the Coast Guard and our nation in meeting our responsibilities in the maritime environment. In connection with this, a Presidential Advisory Council will review the Coast Guard's missions.
It is also important that we continue and complete current recapitalization projects such as the Seagoing Buoy Tenders, the Coastal Patrol Boats, Motor Lifeboats and Buoy Boats; continue safety and efficiency improvements on our aircraft and invest in information and decision support systems that will result in future efficiencies. Full funding of our fiscal year 1999 request will allow us to do just that.
To offset some of the Coast Guard's capital investment, user fees are proposed to recover a portion of the Coast Guard's costs for navigational services. We are working very hard to develop this proposal. To maintain current services and provide for recapitalization of aging assets,
I need the full program level of our fiscal year 1999 AC&I request.
Today's Coast Guard ... Streamlined, Efficient Our efforts to streamline the Coast Guard during the past four years have been a great success. By utilizing process and program performance measures to plan and manage resource trade-offs against outcomes and results, our overall streamlining initiatives will result in significant savings to the American public. The Coast Guard has reengineered its support system; the field command and control infrastructure; and the training system, thereby harvesting the savings to maintain current service to the public. By streamlining our workforce by nearly 4,000 personnel and managing base resources more efficiently, we have reduced overhead, administrative, and support costs, and have strived to place the appropriate resources at the right place at the right time. Our ability to address emerging national priorities in the future will only be possible through substantial consolidations or other actions which create efficiencies from within existing
I have met my commitment. I have streamlined the Coast Guard to its smallest level since 1965 with no reduction in services to the American public. Today, the Coast Guard is more active and affects more American lives on a daily basis than at any time in its 207-year history. The Coast Guard is at its most efficient operating levels.
I can say with great confidence our Service is on course and more responsive than ever to enduring and emerging national priorities. Our success in meeting this direction has allowed us to shape our organization to its most efficient and effective form while maintaining seamless service to the American public. It is only because of our most valuable resource -- our people -that we have been able to undertake such significant change while continuing to deliver the highest level of quality and excellence in services to the public
People are the heart and soul of the Coast Guard. Reductions in people mean reduction in service to the American public. During the past four years, the Coast Guard has reduced its workforce by nearly 4,000 people. But in today's robust economy, where the nation is experiencing such a low unemployment rate, recruiting efforts to replenish our workforce in keeping with our annual accession goals have been a continuing challenge. The highly motivated, capable people we hope to recruit and retain are finding other available options in the private sector. I need your support for our fiscal year 1999 request to restore the funding to our personnel account in order to recruit, retain, and pay the skilled workforce necessary to perform the Coast Guard's missions.
Mr. Chairman, the President's fiscal year 1999 budget request for the Coast Guard allows the Coast Guard to carry out its missions. I believe this request is responsive to the challenges we face in meeting the nation's maritime transportation needs, yet recognizes the fiscal challenges we face as a nation. Your strong support of this request is critical to ensuring the Coast Guard remains Semper Paratus - Always Ready.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you and the other Members of this distinguished committee for your support and guidance I ask for your continued support as you work with the Senate to ensure passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 this session. This legislation contains many provisions of great importance to the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the maritime industry, and the American people.
Testimony Given By:
Mr. Glen G. Nekvasil
Lake Carriers' Association
Cleveland, OH 44113-1838
MARCH 4, 1998
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address this subcommittee. Lako Carriers' Association represents 11 American corporations operating 58 U.S.-Flag vessels exclusively on the Great Lakos. During the recently concluded 1997 navigation season, our members and other Jones Act carriors on the Lakes moved more than 125 million tons of dry- and liquid- bulk cargo, the most in any single navigation season since the early 1980s. To put it another way, the 87 ships and large wig barge units in service on the Lakes last year carried the equivalent of 1/2 ton of cargo for every man. woman, and child in this country in a 328-day shipping season. To meet the needs of commerce, U.S.-Flag carriers on the Great Lakes have assembled what is incontestably the world's most efficient fleet of self-unloading vessels. Our largest ships discharge 70,000 tons of iron ore or coal in 8 hours or less without any assistance from shoreside personnel or equipment. To meet the needs of customers who require cargo in smaller quantities, we offer other self-unloading vessels with por-trip capacities ranging from 12,000 to 44,000 tons. While our members earn their living carrying cargo, the value of Jones Act shipping on the Great Lakes extends far beyond the 67 or so large hulls and 2,500 shipboard billots. The officient movement of Minnesota and Michigan iron ore supports more than 100,000 steel mill jobs and 8,000 miners in the Great Lakes Basin. The low-cost delivery of low-sulfur coal mined in Montana and Wyoming and shipped from Superior, Wisconsin, keeps industrial and residential electric bills as low as possible. Likewise, the efficient carriage of limestone and cement keeps our construction industry vibrant
We have many partners in accomplishing this transportation marvel called Great Lakes shipping, but none is more important than the United States Coast Guard. At the beginning and end of the navigation season, it's U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers that keep the shipping lanes opon to commerce. Once the ice clears, it's the U.S. Coast Guard that places and maintains the Aids to Navigation that keep the ships on a safe course. It's the U.S. Coast Guard that ensures the safety of navigation by inspecting our vessels and licensing and documenting our shipboard personnel to standards without equal in the international maritime industry. And although our members have not had need of this service for more than two decades, and hopefully never will again, it will be U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters that come to the aid of a foundering ship or crew members who have abandoned a stricken vessel. As this Subcommittee well knows, the budgetary realities of recent years have forced the U.S. Coast Guard to do more with less. I can assure you that the Ninth Coast Guard District personnel have performed their many missions with the same high level of commitment and expertise, even though their ranks and resources have been reduced in size. In fact, these budgetary pressures may be one
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