Carl W. Bentzel

Federal Maritime Commission

U.S. Federal Maritime Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel was nominated by the President for the open Democratic slot on the Commission on June 12, 2019, to a term expiring on June 30, 2024. The United States Senate confirmed his nomination on November 21, 2019, and he was sworn into office on December 9, 2019.

Joining the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) as the pandemic was taking hold of the country and international supply chains, Bentzel toured the major port gateways to assess how the maritime industry was operating under extreme volume surges. Working closely with the White House, the Presidential transition team, U.S. Health and Human Services and the U.S. Maritime Administration’ he advocated forcefully for the men and women working onsite in the maritime industry to classified them as essential workers and helped to ensure expedited COVID testing and vaccinations.   

Bentzel then took aim at the shortage of containers available for U.S. importers and exporters during the early phases of the pandemic. His research and assessment of the situation lead to the conclusion that the U.S. market was severely hampered and hurt by Chinese market manipulation of maritime container manufacturing, namely that China’s government-controlled companies that manufacture over 95% of the global maritime containers. This research led to Bentzel’s report, the Assessment of the People’s Republic of China’s Control of Container and Intermodal Chassis Manufacturing. The two-year initiative brought to light many fundamental issues impacting our Nation’s national and economic security.

Through his ongoing assessment of the supply chain, Bentzel next focused on how transportation operational information is shared throughout the supply chain. In November 2021, Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Daniel B. Maffei requested Commissioner Bentzel examine the issue of data and international maritime commerce.  The focus of the project was two-fold: 1) to catalog the status quo in maritime data elements, metrics, transmission, and access, and 2) to identify key gaps in data definitions/classification and utilization. The goal was to develop recommendations for common data standards and lexicon and access policies/protocols. 

The result was the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI).  Bentzel convened 18 public meetings with over eighty supply chain experts, transforming and setting a new standard on how the FMC transparently engages with the public and industry on policy matters. Each meeting was open to the public, recorded and placed on the FMC YouTube channel, and written comments and materials were also made available to the public. The MTDI meetings culminated in a maritime data summit where every meeting participant reengaged in the summit in break out groups that simulated supply chain interactions. In April 2023, Bentzel then released his Final Recommendations on the Maritime Transportation Data System which are still in the public review process.

Prior to his appointment at the Federal Maritime Commission, Commissioner Bentzel created and established a consulting services company where he represented clients on regulatory and legislative issues within the areas of transportation, energy and other areas of federal regulatory oversight. From 2004-2014, Commissioner Bentzel served as Vice President and head of the federal advocacy division of a full-scale public relations firm, the DCI Group. Prior to working in the private sector, Mr. Bentzel served the public sector for ten years as a Senate Professional Committee Staffer including, most recently, as Senior Democratic Counsel of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation. He moved to his role in the Senate after spending four years on the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where he served as Counsel for Maritime Policy. 

Commissioner Bentzel’s primary areas of responsibility on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation were issues on maritime transportation; rail, surface and pipeline transportation; energy transportation and hazardous materials; and homeland security in these areas. While working in the Senate, Commissioner Bentzel served as one of the principals in crafting the Maritime Security Act of 1996, the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998, and in 2002, after the attacks on 9/11, the requirements mandated for maritime security through the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.  He also dealt with matters impacting economic regulation of rail and surface industries before the Surface Transportation Board, and a variety of energy-related regulatory issues.

For his efforts in developing and negotiating passage of Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, Commissioner Bentzel was awarded the Coast Guard’s Medal for Meritorious Public Service and the Maritime Security Council’s Man of the Year award. Mr. Bentzel is also the author of the chapter on Port Security within McGraw-Hill’s Handbook on Homeland Security.

Commissioner Bentzel earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University, his Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama, and his Master of Laws from the Admiralty Law Institute, Tulane University. Bentzel lives in Bowie, Maryland, with his wife, Suzanne, and his son, C.J. and daughter, Brooke.