Today is a little remembered holiday about an often ignored part of America's heritage and, just as importantly, an important part of our national defense and economy.
National Maritime Day was established in 1933. It celebrates the 1819 Atlantic crossing of the steamship Savannah, the first steam-powered ship in the world to cross the Atlantic.
Like submarine history, maritime history has been a history of America and American technological innovation. Steam powered ships and cargo containers are but two examples of American innovation over the years.
In addition, the bravery of American mariners has been instrumental in America's defense. During World War II, 9,300 American merchant mariners lost their lives delivering the vital food, fuel, spare parts, ammunition and other supplies that our forces needed.
During the first Gulf War, American mariners delivered nearly 2 and a half MILLION tons of cargo to the war zone - four times the amount of cargo delivered to support the Normandy invasion.
In 2010 alone, the civilian ships of Military Sealift Command (MSC) delivered nearly 2.5 BILLION gallons of fuel, supporting both U.S. Navy combatant ships at sea and American forces ashore. In addition, nearly 12 million square feet of dry cargo was delivered worldwide.