WASHINGTON – The American Maritime Partnership today released the following statement opposing legislation introduced by Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi to relax the U.S.-build requirement of the Jones Act for particular vessel types operating in the Puerto Rico trade. The Pierliusi bill would weaken U.S. national defense and undermine the investments made by American vessel owners and operators.
“We strongly oppose Mr. Pierluisi’s legislation because it would directly undermine America’s national security. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office recently warned in a study specific to Puerto Rico that the ‘military strategy of the United States relies on the use of commercial U.S.-flag ships and crews and the availability of a shipyard industrial base to support’ the nation’s defense.
“The study also found that the U.S. domestic container shipping fleet has a long history of providing regular, reliable service to the island, and in the past few years also offered significant rate reductions.” But more specific to Mr. Pierliusi’s concern regarding the availability of natural gas to Puerto Rico, there are fully compliant American vessels eligible to transport Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) once Puerto Rico develops the capacity to receive it. There are also special provisions of law that already allow LNG to move to the island on foreign vessels from the U.S. Whether it is LNG or any other cargo needed by the Puerto Rican people, the American maritime industry stands ready to work with the Commissioner to ensure that the demand is met.”