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Letter to Members of the Advisory Committee on the Merchant Marine.

March 11, 1947

Dear Mr.______________:

As an aftermath of the war, the United States faces critical problems in connection with the construction, modernization, and maintenance of an adequate fleet of passenger and freight vessels. With no new passenger liners and few cargo vessels scheduled to be built in the immediate future, the Nation is not assured of the existence of a balanced and modern merchant fleet. This is a matter that concerns not only our commerce and trade, but our national security as well.

Even before the war, we had few passenger vessels. When we entered the war, we shifted to the construction of mass-produced cargo ships, in order to carry America's great production of war material overseas. We used all our pre-war passenger vessels, one-third of which were more than 20 years old, as transports or fleet auxiliaries. Some of these were sunk or badly damaged, and many others were so drastically altered for war use that their complete reconversion to peacetime needs it not economically justified.

Although our present need is primarily for passenger ships, our ship construction program as a whole merits careful consideration. As an important element of national security in connection with preparation for expansion in case of emergency it is essential that shipbuilding skills be maintained by shipbuilders through an orderly replacement program of all types of vessels. Latest technological developments must be incorporated into our future cargo and combination cargo-and-passenger vessels, as well as into passenger liners, if the United States is to maintain a well-balanced modern merchant fleet to meet trade as well as security requirements.

I feel that the whole problem should be carefully studied in all its phases by a group of citizens equipped by background and training to counsel the Government and assist it in formulating a program to strengthen our merchant marine. Accordingly, I have established an Advisory Committee on the Merchant Marine, and ask you to serve upon it. The Committee should meet with representatives of the Navy Department, the United States Maritime Commission, and the leading authorities in the ship operation and shipbuilding industries. After studying the problem, the Committee should present for my consideration its recommendations as to the number and types of merchant vessels to be constructed annually under a stable, long-range program, as well as any other recommendations that the Committee feels will prove helpful. Its findings will assist me in developing a sound merchant marine policy and in formulating proposals to the Congress for any necessary legislation. The heads of the executive departments and agencies concerned stand ready to give you all possible aid.

Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the following appointees to the Advisory Committee: K. T. Keller, President, Chrysler Corp., Detroit, Mich.; Marion B. Folsom, Vice Chairman, Business Advisory Council for the Department of Commerce, and Treasurer, Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, N.Y.; Andrew W. Robertson, Chairman of the Board, Westinghouse Electric Corp., Pittsburgh, Pa.; James B. Black, President, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Francisco, Calif.; and Vice Adm. Edward L. Cochrane, formerly Chief, Bureau of Ships, U.S. Navy, and President, The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Mr. Keller was appointed Chairman, and Mr. Folsom, Vice Chairman of the Committee.

The letter and the list of appointees were part of a White House release announcing that the President had that day established the Advisory Committee on the Merchant Marine.

Harry S. Truman, Letter to Members of the Advisory Committee on the Merchant Marine. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232817

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