Harbors and ports are vital to the Nation. Since ports handle about half of U.S. overseas trade by value and nearly all by weight, waterborne commerce directly affects the prosperity and quality of life in the United States. Harbors and ports are also crucial for military applications because a large percentage of military goods are transported by ship. Finally, harbors provide launching and berthing facilities for commercial fishing boats and a large number of recreational boats.
Harbors and ports have developed along the coasts of the United States since the first colonists arrived in the 17th century. Today, major cities across the country have grown around maritime centers, and navigation continues to be an important part of life along our oceans, lakes and rivers.