Jones Act Vessel Independence Means More Jobs for SIU Members
Even before ringing in the new year, Seafarers had cause for celebration as General Dynamics NASSCO launched the first ship in a series of ECO Class tankers for the SEA-Vista fleet. A ceremony took place Dec. 12 at the shipyard in San Diego; the vessel – the Independence – will be operated by Seabulk Tankers and crewed by SIU mariners.
SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker and Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone represented the union at the ceremony. As part of the gathering, the ship’s sponsor, Mrs. Allison Moran, CEO of Race-Trac Petroleum, christened the tanker by breaking a traditional champagne bottle over the hull. Mrs. Jayne Rathburn, former CEO/ owner of US Joiner, pulled the trigger to release the ship into the San Diego Bay.
The Independence is a 610-foot, 50,000 deadweight-ton, and LNG-conversion-ready product tanker with a 330,000 barrel cargo capacity. The new ECO Class tanker symbolizes the emerging direction of the shipping industry in the U.S. toward cleaner, more fuel-efficient modes of transporting product. Construction on the ship began in November 2014.
“General Dynamics NASSCO shipbuilders are revolutionizing the future of American shipping with the concept and construction of innovative, cost-saving, and environmentally sound vessels,” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager for General Dynamics NASSCO. “When delivered, these ECO Class, Jones Act-qualified tankers will be among the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly tankers anywhere in the world.”
The Independence was built for SEAVista, a partnership between SEACOR Holdings Inc. and Avista Capital Partners.
“We are pleased to complete this important milestone for the first in a series of three fuel-efficient, ECO Jones Act product tankers that will be delivering into the SEA-Vista fleet and operated by Seabulk Tankers, Inc.,” said Daniel J. Thorogood, president and chief operating officer of Seabulk Tankers.
General Dynamics NASSCO is a union shipyard.
The Jones Act has helped protect U.S. national and economic security for nearly a century. It requires that cargo moving between domestic ports must be transported on vessels that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American. Many other industrialized nations across the globe have similar laws.
An independent study of the Jones Act in recent years found that the law benefits the United States in many ways. It helps maintain nearly 500,000 American jobs while the Jones Act trade itself contributes billions of dollars each year to the economy.
The Jones Act also helps maintain a pool of well-trained, reliable, U.S.-citizen mariners who are available to sail aboard military support ships in times of need.