Messages from Leadership

The U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System welcomes the incoming Secretary of Transportation as Chair of the CMTS. By charter, the CMTS is chaired by the Secretary of Transportation.

The CMTS was established by Presidential Directive in 2005 and authorized in 2012 to coordinate maritime transportation policy between the 25+ Federal maritime-related agencies and organizations. The CMTS is called upon to assess the U.S. marine transportation system and report its findings to Congress every five years.

Paul F. Thomas, Rear Admiral, USCG

Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy

It is an honor to represent the Secretary of Homeland Security while fulfilling my duties as the Chair of the Coordinating Board of the U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS). For over 200 years, the Coast Guard has ensured the safety, security, and environmental protection of the waterways and users that make up our nation’s Marine Transportation System (MTS). Throughout my Coast Guard career, I have worked closely with our Federal partners and state and local government representatives, tribal leaders, and industry and maritime professionals to execute our mission. Secretary Johnson and the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Paul Zukunft, are keenly aware of the importance and value of the MTS to our national economy.

The MTS is a critical component of the Nation’s supply chain and a vital lifeline for the U.S. economy. It supports millions of American jobs and contributes to $4.6 trillion of economic activity (2014). Today, the MTS faces challenges that include a changing climate, increased port congestion and infrastructure needs, which are accompanied by greater demand for safe and efficient movement of people and goods. At the same time, rapidly changing conditions in the Arctic, and increased maritime transportation and commerce in the region present new opportunities, but also environmental threats.

The CMTS is committed to ensuring that the MTS meets the present and future needs of our nation. We are an interagency policy-coordinating committee charged with assessing the adequacy of the MTS, promoting integration of the MTS with other modes of transportation, and addressing Federal policies that impact the system. Since 2008, and with the publication of the National Strategy for the MTS: A Framework for Action, our interagency collaboration has made great strides towards a safer, more secure, environmentally friendly, and efficient MTS.

I look forward to working with the many professionals of the CMTS Coordinating Board to address important MTS challenges. My goals for this year are to (1) complete the MTS Assessment Report to Congress, (2) immediately capitalize on the results of the MTS Assessment in order to make substantial progress on the next National Strategy for the MTS, and (3) refine the cross section of Interagency Action Teams, Task Teams, and Work Groups to ensure we are focusing limited resources on the most critical items. I also want to ensure we leverage opportunities to increase awareness of the value of the MTS to our leaders, partners, and the public we serve.



Rear Admiral Paul Thomas serves as the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, overseeing three Coast Guard directorates—Inspections and Compliance, Marine Transportation Systems, and Commercial Regulations and Standards. The programs under his leadership include waterways management, navigation and boating safety, ports and facilities, merchant mariner credentialing, vessel documentation, marine casualty investigation, commercial vessel inspections, and port state control.

A specialist in Marine Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection he has served at the Marine Safety Center in Washington, DC; Marine Safety Office San Francisco Bay, CA; Marine Safety Detachment Port Canaveral, FL; and Marine Safety Office Jacksonville, FL. He has also served as Commanding Officer of Marine Safety Unit Galveston, TX; Commander Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, FL; and Director of Inspections and Compliance at Coast Guard Headquarters.

His other tours include Fifth Coast Guard District Chief of Staff, Executive Assistant to the Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship, Military Assistant to the Director of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Commanding Officer in USCGC CAPE ROMAIN, and Operations Officer in USCGC BLACKHAW.

Rear Admiral Thomas is a graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2005 he completed a National Security Fellowship at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and in 2010 he served as a Senior Fellow to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group (SSG XXIX). His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Coast Guard Commendation Medal, Transportation 9/11 Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Coast Guard Achievement Medal.

Helen Brohl

Helen Brohl

Executive Director
U.S. Committee on the Marine Transportation System

In July 2015, the modern CMTS celebrated ten years of operation! It has been my pleasure to have originated the position of Executive Director and to have worked with a cadre of extraordinary Federal leaders and subject matter experts. In the early years, we spent much of our time establishing day-to-day operations and working to institutionalize the value of joint Federal agency participation in support of the Marine Transportation System (MTS). Developing and adopting the first-ever National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System in 2008 was a significant Partnership milestone that set the stage for many other meaningful agreements and activities. Other accomplishments include the Strategic Action Plan for Research and Development in the Marine Transportation System, the e-Navigation Strategic Action Plan, the 2013 U.S. Arctic Marine Transportation System Report, and the January 2017 report on the application of public-private partnerships to support maritime infrastructure in the U.S. Arctic.

Other activities include the development of MTS performance measures, the development of joint enhanced marine safety information to the mariner, a focus on maritime data within Data.gov, enhanced veterans support with military to mariner transition, interagency collaboration related to maritime energy and emissions, and a continuation of investigations and support for MTS infrastructure investment, including the use of P3s.

The CMTS and the Transportation Research Board have co-sponsored four MTS research and development conferences, the most recent in June 2016. Our goal now is to update the National MTS R&D plan. We were extremely pleased and honored to be recognized by the National Economic Council for the CMTS Federal Funding Handbook: Marine Transportation System Infrastructure. This report was recently updated with more than 80 different Federal funding opportunities to the stakeholder for the MTS. Please visit the CMTS site often for new and improved products and share your ideas for ways in which we can meet your Federal-related interests.

The CMTS is an extraordinary Federal interagency partnership of over 25 active members, including White House offices, and as the organization grows in membership, so does its value. We remain indebted to the dedicated agency members who provide expertise and resources to the Executive Secretariat and CMTS activities.

The CMTS is a Federal interagency coordinating committee directed by Congress and charter to improve the coordination of and make recommendations with regard to Federal policies that impact the MTS.