I thought the article below, in Maritime Executive magazine, was pretty neat. It talks about a great idea in Florida, from an engineer – of course, aimed to help recognize the work of the merchant marine does for a nation’s commerce and security. I wish them all the best in their endeavors.
Florida Specialty License Plate Honoring America’s Merchant Marine in the Works
Thursday, October 9th, 2008
Former MSC marine engineer spearheading effort to get Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to approve design and concept.
The Florida Chapter of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Alumni Association (MMAAA) and its chapter president, Mr. Charles Gilmor, with the assistance of Robert Shaughnessy, are all in the process of gathering support for a Florida Specialty License Plate honoring America’s Merchant Marine. Although all five of the U.S. Armed Services are represented in Florida by Specialty License Plates, no such merchant mariner tag is currently issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). Shaughnessy aims to change that, and soon.
In fact, says Shaughnessy, over one hundred other institutions, organizations, and causes are likewise depicted on Florida tags. A license tag that honors the United States Merchant Marine would increase public awareness of America’s “fourth arm of defense”, its service in peace and war, and its role as a vital part of our Nation’s commerce and transportation.
Shaughnessy recently retired from his position as First Assistant Engineer with Military Sealift Command after more than 25 years of seagoing service. The Florida MMAAA chapter advocates adoption of this Specialty Tag because “our Nation’s awareness of the United States Merchant Marine is abysmally low. Many Americans confuse it with the Marine Corps, others think everything big that floats belongs to the Navy, and even those who are more knowledgeable tend to regard the Maritime Service as either the “Love Boat” or the Exxon Valdez.” Shaughnessy goes on to say, “Of course, a license tag by itself won’t transform the observer into a maritime authority, but it may well pique his or her curiosity and spark a quest for further information.”
Research on the subject of specialty tags in Florida reveals that (a) an Act of the State Legislature is required to establish a Specialty Plate; (b) the sponsoring organization must retain the services of an independent survey firm to poll prospective buyers of the plate, with a minimum 30,000 “affirmative” votes; (c) the sponsoring organization is required to pay a fee of $60,000 to Florida DHSMV. In view of these requirements, Shaughnessy and his comrades plan to work with the Florida chapters of other maritime colleges, as well as in-state maritime businesses and organizations that support our Merchant Marine.
Shaughnessy also says that a Kings Point chapter in South Florida has displayed interest, and that he has also been in contact with the Propeller Club, Port of Tampa, with a view towards having them act as an “umbrella” sponsoring organization. He adds, “We seek no funding from the Propeller Club, although donations from individual members would be welcome.” Bob, let us send you the first check, on behalf of THE MARITIME EXECUTIVE, and our tens of thousands of online readers. Good luck!