By: Thomas A. Allegretti, Chairman, American Maritime Partnership
As a lifelong member of the US maritime community, I am proud to be part of an industry that continues its commitment to lead the world in designing, constructing, and operating some of the most innovative, safe, and eco-friendly vessels that sail in every body of water from inland rivers to vast oceans.
Unfortunately, part of my experience is to sometimes expect attacks from critics on that industry, our shipyards, vessels, and mariners, to further foreign interests, explain away bad earnings, or advance a political agenda.
So, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to read in TradeWinds on 2 June that Robert Curt did just that. I was especially disappointed that Mr. Curt sought to exploit the tragedy of the El Faro sinking to push his own agenda.
While Mr. Curt tried to convince readers that broad elements of the US maritime industry should be eliminated, the undisputed truth remains that the Jones Act — the national law critical to our national, economic, and homeland security — has never been more essential to our nation. That is precisely why the law enjoys wide bipartisan support from US defence leaders, members of Congress, and every modern-day president.
The Jones Act ensures that goods and people are moved between US ports safely and on time, that our internal waterways are secured, that our nation has a vibrant US Merchant Marine, and that our armed forces have state-of-the-art vessels so they can complete their missions effectively.
Changes to any area of the Jones Act would spell disaster for our national and homeland defences and destroy one of the most significant contributors to the economic health of this great country.
Without the Jones Act, millions of foreign vessels and their foreign crews could move potentially dangerous cargo around more than 12,000 miles of coastline and inland waterways, under bridges, near schools and stadiums.
Our nation without the Jones Act would mean — as highlighted recently by General Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — that we would be outsourcing our sovereignty to other countries.
Repeal of the Jones Act would mean foreign workers would replace the nearly 500,000 proud US men and women who build, maintain, and operate our domestic fleet, and destroy an industry that contributes almost $100bn in total economic output to our nation’s economy.
While critics want to amend or repeal the Jones Act for their own special interests, US defence leaders, lawmakers, mariners, and the people know better. The Jones Act is essential to our national, homeland, and economic security.
Thomas Allegretti is chairman of the American Maritime Partnership, the voice of the US domestic maritime industry.