A recently released annual policy statement from the Navy League of the United States, Maritime Primacy & Economic Security, says the Jones Act is critical to U.S. economic, homeland and national security – serving the nation by maintaining a skilled merchant marine, shipbuilding capacity and sealift capability.
Announced in late March, the policy statement says the Navy League supports “the Jones Act and Passenger Vessel Services Act, which are important to economic and national security because they protect critical national infrastructure and provide added sealift capacity through the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA), an expanded pool of trained and experienced mariners to crew U.S. government-owned sealift assets and help sustain the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industrial base that is vital to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.”
The Jones Act mandates the use of vessels that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American to move cargo between domestic U.S. ports. Similar laws and statutes apply the same ground rules to the movement of passengers, towing, dredging and marine salvage. The law boosts security by adding a sealift capacity as well as an expanded pool of trained and experienced mariners to crew U.S. government-owned sealift assets. It also prevents foreign-owned, foreign-crewed tonnage from having unfettered access to U.S. waterways.
“We are pleased that the Navy League supports the Jones Act and understands the essential role the law plays in creating jobs and protecting our homeland,” said James Henry, president of the Transportation Institute and chairman of the board of directors of the American Maritime Partnership, a major coalition of American maritime industry members including the SIU. “The Jones Act makes America more secure economically and militarily by maintaining a skilled merchant marine that supports our military while providing nearly 500,000 American jobs.”
The policy statement says the Jones Act is critical to the long-term sustainability of the U.S. fleet, noting that without commercial capability, the U.S. government would be required to provide significantly more funds to build a replacement fleet and infrastructure (at an estimated costs of many billions of dollars) while losing the pool of highly qualified mariners needed to sail these vessels. In addition, the Navy League says the Jones Act has a positive impact on the U.S. economy.