A merchant mariner involved in a 2009 standoff with Somali pirates says continued federal budget cuts could shrink the number of U.S.-flagged ships that ferry military supplies worldwide, Reuters reported Thursday.
According to David Alexander report, Richard Phillips told Reuters the budget cuts could also cut down the number of Pentagon’s commercial cargo fleet by a third of the existing 60 ships.
“Everyone understands belt-tightening. It’s just that we’ve had our belt tightened to the point where we could lose our pants,” said Steven Werse, an official at the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots.
Werse told Reuters the union believes that about $12 million will be cut from the Transportation Department‘s Maritime Security Program.
That program works to help protect 60 ships, including Phillips’ Maersk Alabama, as they carry cargo to troops at war and for other purposes.