Letter to Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, Re: Reject Applications to Sell Seastreak Ferry Boats to Foreign Government
PALLONE ASKS U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT TO REJECT any application to sell SEASTREAK FERRY boats to foreign government
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter today to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez asking him to reject any application by Sea Containers Ltd. to sell their ferry vessels in Highlands and Atlantic Highlands to a foreign government. (A COPY OF THE LETTER FOLLOWS.) The New Jersey congressman believes the ferry boats should be sold to a U.S. buyer that will continue the current ferry service.
Pallone's letter comes in response to the possibility that Sea Containers Ltd. or its American subsidiary, SeaStreak America, Inc., may have applied for an export license with the Commerce Department to sell four ferry boats to Trinidad and Tobago. SeaStreak America Inc. operates the ferry service, which shuttles commuters from the New Jersey boroughs of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands to downtown Manhattan.
November 19, 2007
Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Secretary Gutierrez,
I am writing today regarding Sea Containers Ltd. and its American subsidiary, SeaStreak America Inc. They provide the ferry service that shuttles commuters from the boroughs of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands in my district to downtown Manhattan.
Recently, I have heard that either Sea Containers Ltd. or SeaStreak America Inc. may have applied for an export license with the Department of Commerce to sell four ferry boats to Trinidad and Tobago. Because of the importance of the SeaStreak ferry routes to the regional transportation network, and the assistance that the federal government provided in establishing and supporting these routes, I believe any application by these companies for an export license to sell these boats to a foreign government should be rejected. I believe it is imperative for the company to seek a U.S. buyer that will keep this service intact.
These ferries are American flagged vessels, but Sea Containers Ltd., a British corporation, set up an American company in order to operate the vessels under the Jones Act in coastal waters. These ferries played a key evacuation role on 9/11, and therefore Sea Containers was eligible for and received federal funds through post-9/11 New York and New Jersey ferry funding to enhance its facilities and operations. Should another terrorist attack or natural disaster strike downtown Manhattan, this ferry service will serve as an integral route for people to evacuate the island.
Due to the fact that this ferry service provides a vital transportation route for thousands of commuters in New Jersey and New York, and the importance it played in the aftermath of 9/11, I believe it is essential that this ferry service remain in operation with its existing boats and equipment.
Any information you can provide on this application would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to your timely response and appreciate any assistance you can offer to keep this ferry service intact.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress