The Maritime Stakeholders Group (MSG), a united entity representing more than 300 maritime-related organizations in the port communities of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, praised Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell for his efforts to expand the role of the Philadelphia Strategic Seaport as the Department of Defense (DOD) North Atlantic global distribution hub.

The MSG has urged the tri-state Congressional delegation to support the Governor in this mission. Such expansion would support escalating DOD needs to more rapidly and efficiently move equipment and materials between the war theaters and the US.

In its letter, the group noted, “As DOD’s only beta test site for new and emerging global surface distribution solutions, the Port of Philadelphia currently provides DOD with assured access to equipment, critical staging and marine terminal infrastructure.”

MSG’s current efforts target DOD’s establishment of the Port of Philadelphia as a high-speed and secure surface distribution hub to support the movement of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles from military and commercial manufacturing sites in the Northeast and Midwest to overseas war theaters. The MSG letter also noted, “There is an urgent need for the rapid movement of MRAP vehicles to the war theaters, as their unique design better protects our forces against land mines and enemy explosive devices.”

In addition, MSG seeks for DOD to further utilize the Port of Philadelphia to handle returning RESET/Retrograde equipment, which is then sent to various repair facilities and redeployed to meet U.S. military readiness requirements.

Uwe Schulz, President of the Ports of the Delaware River Marine Trade Association (PMTA), which represents waterfront employers, said, “Our efforts to bring MRAP and RESET work to the Port of Philadelphia will have a considerable and lasting positive economic benefit effect on the tri-state port community. Our Congressional leaders in Washington must recognize the extensive impact this type of economic boost would provide.”

James H. Paylor, Jr., Vice President of the International Longshoremen’s Association District Council of Philadelphia and Wilmington, added, “We have invested significantly in our seaport and our workers, who have been trained to handle DOD equipment - - we’re more than ready to proudly serve DOD and our men and women in uniform.”

Dennis Rochford, President of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, stated, “Major shifts in international trade patterns, along with the fact that competing ports are at or exceeding capacity, have created significant commercial and military opportunities for the Philadelphia Seaport. Today, we ask our Congressional delegation to assist the tri-state region in seizing these opportunities and expanding upon Philadelphia’s federal designation as a strategic port.”

A study conducted by Martin Associates in 2005 confirmed that movement of military cargoes through the Port of Philadelphia generates significant economic benefits in the form of jobs, business and tax revenue.

Specifically, the report concluded that each military cargo operation is responsible for a $1.4 million combined financial impact on the region.