Republican Party Platform of 1988


Keeping the Sea Lanes Free

The United States has always been a maritime nation. We have rebuilt our Navy to permit continued freedom of the seas. Our focus has correctly been on the fighting ships our Navy would use in the event of a conflict. Our successful peace mission in the Persian Gulf is eloquent testimony to the benefits of a blue water Navy.

To protect American interests in remote areas of the world, we require a 600-ship navy with 15 aircraft carrier battle groups. This number enables us to operate in areas where we lack the infrastructure of bases we enjoy in Western Europe and the western Pacific. A force of this size will enable us to meet both our security interests and commitments into the 21st century. Republicans are also committed to the strategic homeporting of our forces throughout the United States. Notwithstanding the Democrat nominee’s claim to support conventional arms improvements, U.S. security interests are jeopardized by his proposal to cancel two aircraft carriers previously authorized and funded by Congress.

Providing new policies for the maritime industry is crucial to this nation’s defense capability and its economic strength. These policies must include leadership to help make the industries competitive through reform of government programs, aggressive efforts to remove barriers to the U.S. flag merchant fleet, and a commitment to cooperate with the industries themselves to improve their efficiency, productivity, and competitive positions.

A national commitment to revitalize the commercial shipbuilding industry is needed in this country. Shipyards and the supplier base for marine [p.97] equipment necessary to build and maintain a merchant marine must survive and prosper. Our merchant marine must be significantly enlarged and become more competitive in order to vastly increase the amount and proportion of our foreign trade it carries.

Sealift is needed to supply our troops and transport commercial cargo during a prolonged national emergency. As a nation, we must be willing to pay for the strategic sealift capability we require. We can do this by ensuring that the needed ships are built and by helping to sustain the ships and their crews in commercial operation. We must return this nation to its foremost place among the world maritime powers through a comprehensive maritime policy.

Last year Congress slashed the Administration’s budget request for the Coast Guard. We urge Congress to adjust the budget process to protect the Coast Guard appropriation, thereby removing the temptation to siphon its funds and personnel into other programs and ensuring improved coordination of government agencies in our nation’s war against drugs.


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Chicago: "Keeping the Sea Lanes Free," Republican Party Platform of 1988 in Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1988, Pp.96-97 Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2023,

MLA: . "Keeping the Sea Lanes Free." Republican Party Platform of 1988, in Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1988, Pp.96-97, Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Keeping the Sea Lanes Free' in Republican Party Platform of 1988. cited in , Republican National Committee, Republican Party Platform, 1988, Pp.96-97. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2023, from