Following its christening late last year, the SIU-crewed tanker Liberty formally was delivered March 1 in San Diego.
The 610-foot-long tanker, which will sail in the Jones Act trade, is the third and final ship built at General Dynamics NASSCO (a union shipyard) for SEA-Vista LLC. The first two ships are the Independence and the Constitution. The Liberty also is part of a larger, eight-ship, ECO Class tanker program. (The other ships, built for American Petroleum Tankers, also carry SIU crews, or will carry them upon construction.)
According to the shipyard, the vessels in this class are 50,000 deadweight tons and can carry 330,000 barrels of cargo apiece. The design offers “improved fuel efficiency and cleaner shipping options,” NASSCO reported.
“We are grateful for our partnership with SEA-Vista and the opportunity to design and construct three vessels equipped with world-leading technology and capability that will service their customers for decades to come,” said Steve Davison, vice president of pre-production operations for General Dynamics NASSCO. “Credit for the successful completion of this contract goes to the thousands of worldclass NASSCO shipbuilders and our partners who worked to provide unmatched quality and service from day one.”
The eighth ship of the program, the Palmetto State, was scheduled to be christened and launched on March 25.
In the past decade, NASSCO has delivered 29 oceangoing ships to government and commercial customers – including the world’s first LNG-powered containerships (both crewed by SIU members).
The Jones Act requires that cargo moving between domestic ports be carried on ships that are crewed, built, flagged and owned American.
At its most recent executive board meeting, the AFLCIO’s Maritime Trades Department (to which the SIU is affiliated) approved a Jones Act statement that read in part: “While there are many benefits to this law, one that shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that it helps maintain a pool of welltrained, reliable, American-citizen crews who can sail aboard military support ships, delivering materiel to U.S. troops deployed around the world during times of crisis. Additionally, many Jones Act vessels themselves could be militarily useful and undoubtedly would be made available to the Defense Department in an emergency. The Jones Act also provides a strong economic boost to the country. A major independent study revealed the law helps maintain nearly a half million American jobs while contributing billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
“And let us not forget several of its other benefits, including border protection, homeland security and prevention of illegal immigration,” the statement continued. “The Jones Act ensures that vessels plying America’s inland waterways are truly domestic. Crews are carefully screened before receiving their credentials, and vessel owners work with the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal law enforcement agencies.”
The United States is not alone among the countries of the world in enforcing cabotage laws. More than 40 major trading nations have similar decrees on their books.
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