I am pleased to be here today to describe the role of the Commerce Department in promoting the Deepwater Program as part of the Coast Guard-Navy-Commerce Team International. Before I begin, I would like to thank the National Defense Industrial Association and the Navy International Programs Office for organizing this important event. And, I would also like to congratulate the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman Team on their selection as the Deepwater Systems Integrator.
Our job at the Bureau of Industry and Security is to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests. Many of you may know BIS for our role in implementing U.S. dual-use export controls. However, we accomplish our mission through a variety of other programs as well, such as monitoring the health of the U.S. defense industrial base, promoting U.S. exports of defense articles, and assisting U.S. industry in complying with international arms control agreements.
The Deepwater Program helps BIS fulfill its mission in two important ways. First, we expect Deepwater to enhance the viability of the U.S. defense industrial base. Specifically, sales of Deepwater assets to both the U.S. Coast Guard and to foreign buyers will help stimulate a sluggish U.S. maritime industry. A recent report conducted by my agency concluded that the commercial shipbuilding industry in this country is generally not competitive on a global basis. For example, as of June 2000, the United States ranked tenth in the world with about a one percent share in the construction of new commercial vessels over 1,000 gross tons. Furthermore, exports accounted for less than 2 percent of the shipbuilding industry's total revenues. Likewise, orders for U.S. warships have declined 60 percent since the end of the Cold War a decade ago. Because of these sub par sales numbers, employment in the shipbuilding industry has decreased notably over the last two decades. Just since 1997, industry employment has dropped by nearly 10,000 jobs, which represents 10 percent of the total workforce. Therefore, we believe that the promotion of exports of Deepwater assets will have a positive impact on the U.S. defense industrial base, especially in the area of shipbuilding.
way that our involvement in Deepwater helps fulfill the mission of the DOC
is by enhancing commercial relations between the U.S. and other countries.
Just as Deepwater will increase the interoperability of the U.S. Coast Guard
with foreign fleets, likewise, Deepwater offers the potential for increased
commercial cooperation between U.S. industry and manufacturers overseas, which
will help create jobs in both the U.S. and abroad.
To highlight our commitment to Deepwater, in March of 2001, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Coast Guard signed a 5-year Memorandum of Agreement. The Agreement provides that the Department of Commerce and the Coast Guard will jointly promote exports of Deepwater assets internationally. Let me explain how we plan to accomplish this goal.
Although we have all been waiting for the selection of the Systems Integrator prior to aggressively marketing the Deepwater Program, Commerce has begun to lay the groundwork to ensure its success. Specifically, we have reached out to the large sales force that we have at Commerce, known as the foreign commercial service. The U.S. Department of Commerce has approximately 1800 employees, stationed in more than 150 offices in 83 countries. We plan to use this tremendous resource as the primary means to market Deepwater. We have provided detailed information on Deepwater opportunities to our foreign commercial service officers. And, in turn, they have begun to educate their contacts in the foreign governments about the potential benefits of the Deepwater Program.
We have begun to raise awareness of Deepwater in other ways as well. First, we have placed a number of articles on Deepwater in journals, newspapers, and magazines, including those with international distribution. Now that the Integrator has been selected and the assets have been defined, we plan to release a supplemental series of articles.
Second, we have hosted Deepwater briefings for foreign embassies and industries here in Washington and overseas, including representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Israel, Sri Lanka, and India. We will soon meet with Qatar, South Africa, and a number of Indian Ocean nations. We hope to meet with the rest of you very soon.
Third, in partnership with the Coast Guard Deepwater Team, we have placed exhibits at major trade shows from Australia to India to the U.K. Later this year, we will also be hosting exhibits with the Coast Guard at trade shows in South Africa, France, and Chile. And, we look forward to participating in future shows with the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman Team.
Recognizing that not all potential foreign buyers will have the necessary resources to participate in Deepwater, the Department of Commerce has coordinated discussions with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration, and the representatives from the Defense Export Loan Guarantee Program to address the situation where export financing may be needed to facilitate the sale of Deepwater assets.
In addition, we plan to work closely with the Navy, the State Department, and the Department of Defense to identify and address any export control issues that may arise related to the sale of Deepwater assets. Finally, we are in the process of identifying partners to conduct joint outreach programs to potential buyers. We feel that by conducting these activities prior to the selection of the Systems Integrator, we have laid a solid foundation to ensure the success of the Deepwater Program.
Through these efforts, we hope to make the case that Deepwater assets will provide significant benefits to foreign buyers. Clearly, Deepwater will provide national security benefits by increasing interoperability between the U.S. military and the foreign government. However, it is important to note that many Deepwater assets can be utilized for non-defense functions, such as fisheries protection, drug interdiction, immigration, customs, search and rescue, and environmental protection. So the capabilities of Deepwater extend far beyond the traditional security functions. And, we plan to educate our potential buyers on these capabilities.
In closing, I want to assure you that the DOC will work very hard with the Coast Guard, Navy, and the Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman Team to promote the Deepwater Program on a global basis. And, we look forward to reaching out to our international friends here today and continuing this mutually beneficial dialogue. The contacts in my agency for the Deepwater Program are listed on the last slide. Please do not hesitate to call on us if we can be of any assistance. Thank you again for inviting me to participate today.