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Trump eases restrictions to help military members join Merchant Marine

By Ed Adamczyk
Merchant Marines are seen working on port improvement. Monday, the White House announced an executive order easing the transition of veterans and active military personnel to the Merchant Marine. <a class="tpstyle" href="https://www.usmma.edu/photos">Photo courtesy U.S. Merchant Marine Academy</a>
Merchant Marines are seen working on port improvement. Monday, the White House announced an executive order easing the transition of veterans and active military personnel to the Merchant Marine. Photo courtesy U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

March 4 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Monday to ease restrictions and help retiring active-duty military personnel and veterans transition to the U.S. Merchant Marine, the White House said.

The White House order, titled "Supporting the Transition of Active Duty Service Members and Military Veterans into the Merchant Marine," aims to ease the transition of highly-skilled veterans to the civilian workforce. It waives licensing fees, omits some training and allows military experience to count toward merchant marine certification.

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Trump's order comes as the Merchant Marine, an element of the Homeland Security Department Defense Industrial Base, faces a shortfall of applicants.

"The civilian men and women of the United States Merchant Marine pilot the sealift vehicles that deliver things like tanks, helicopters, and even troops, often in hostile waters and at great personal risk," Peter Navarro, director of trade and economic policy, told reporters Monday. "And in so doing, they are a mission-critical component of U.S. military readiness."

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Merchant Marine personnel move cargo and passengers within the United States and between nations with an assortment of watercraft, including deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats and towboats. On average, they earn $65,720 per year, Navarro said, a figure higher than the national occupational average.

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Citing Department of Transportation data, Navarro stressed national security.

"If the U.S. entered into a large-scale conflict that required the military's full mobilization, we would fall or could fall short of the number of Mariners needed to sustain contingency operation," he said. "In other words, after just six months, the most powerful country in the world could find itself challenged to supply its overseas military personnel."

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