"The Jones Act Works," Industry Leader Tells Congress09/17:
Washington, DC--Thanks to the Jones Act, the United States "has developed a highly-competitive, economically efficient domestic marine transportation system that is unmatched in the world," a leading U.S. maritime official today told the Senate Commerce Committee. "The Jones Act works," declared James R. Barker, Vice Chairman of Mormac Marine Group, speaking on behalf of the Maritime Cabotage Task Force. The Jones Act requires that cargo moving between two U.S. ports be carried in vessels that the U.S.-owned, U.S.-built and U.S.-crewed.
Barker stressed that U.S.-flag vessels in domestic commerce now annually move more than 1 billion tons of cargo and that U.S.-flag operators have a long history of "providing innovative solutions to meet the shipping needs of American business." He further emphasized that American ship operators continue to add "new and more modern vessels to our growing fleets," so much so that since 1965, the U.S. domestic fleet has more than doubled in sized and tripled its productivity.
Citing examples from the Great Lakes trades, one of Barkers two primary businesses, the longtime shipping executive noted that just one of the 1,000-foot-long vessels his company and other U.S-flag operators built during the boom economy of the 1970s "offers the same seasonal lift capacity as four 1960s era ships." Additionally, these ships are self-unloaders that can discharge directly onto a receiving area that is nothing more than a flat open field, "thus permitting virtually any waterfront property to become a working dock on the Great Lakes."
Testimony to be submitted for the record by the Maritime Cabotage Task Force will detail similar efficiencies and innovations in every segment of the Jones Act fleet.
Barker then warned the Committee that the bill under consideration to permit foreign-owned and foreign-built ships into domestic commerce would do irreparable harm to the domestic marine transportation system in the United States. "Private investment is the key to future growth and there is no better way to stifle such investment than through bills such as S.2390 that would undermine the level playing field necessary to sustain that investment in the future." Barker noted that his companies "have invested over $100 million of completely private capital in building new or modernizing our existing ships in the last few years. S.2390, if enacted, would simply destroy the basis for that investment in a single stroke."
Nationwide, the 44,000 vessels in the Jones Act fleet represent an investment of $26 billion.
Barker dismissed the basis for the legislation, a supposed shortage of U.S.-flag vessels, noting that one of his Lakes competitors has recently acquired a Jones Act eligible, ocean classed, integrated tug/dry bulk covered hopper barge with a 34,330 ton load capacity for coal or 1,452,000 cubic foot capacity for grain. "The vessel [is] exceptionally well suited for coastwise bulk service, including such cargos as grain for North Carolina or kaolin clay from Georgia. This is exactly the type of vessel that proponents of S.2390 claim does not exist in the Jones Act fleet."
Despite the Senate hearing, there is little support for changes in the Jones Act among official Washington. An Administration witness, Maritime Administrator Clyde Hart, expressed full support for the existing law. The U.S. Navy has recently reaffirmed its longstanding support, citing the law as "vital" to national security. A Resolution in support of the Jones Act in the House of Representatives has 242 cosponsors.
The Maritime Cabotage Task Force promotes awareness of the vital role of a U.S.-flag domestic fleet. The Task Force represents more than 400 organizations involved in all aspects of domestic waterborne commerce. Its landmark study, Full Speed Ahead, illustrates the dramatic growth of U.S.-flag shipping in recent years. The domestic fleet has doubled in size since 1965 and productivity has more than tripled to the point where U.S.-flag vessels routinely move more than 1 billion tons of cargo and 100 million passengers between U.S. ports each year.
For more information contact:
Glen G. Nekvasil, Director of Media Relations, 1-888-400-9429
Visit the Maritime Cabotage Task Force Home page for more information on Great Lakes Shipping