same as what it was previously. The
Jones Act [carriers], if there is cargo,
will make the investment to put
ships into the trade.”
Furthermore, the domestic com-
ponent of the U.S.-flag fleet is stabi-
lizing because of recent recapitali-
zation of ships in the Hawaii trade,
and new tankers being added to
transport shale oil.
“The combination of the energy
resurgence and the energy renais-
sance that has happened, is that
we’ve got 33 vessels today that are
either on order or under construction
in U.S. [ship] yards,” Jaenichen said.
“That is the most in three decades.”
He said the new ships are all
Jones Act vessels, and, likewise, will
be coastwise qualified, an important
factor given its bearing on the
employment of capable and quali-
fied U.S.-flag Merchant Mariners. That, in turn, supports
the nation’s government reserve sealift given these
mariners carry ocean-going — or Standards of Training,
Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers-certified —
He also said the construction of the 33 vessels supports an industry in about 117 of the nation’s shipyards,
reflecting direct employment for about 107,000 people.
A 2013 MARAD study concluded that the American
shipbuilding and repair industry supports annual
employment in the United States for more than 400,000
people, generates annual labor income of about $24 billion and creates an annual gross domestic product of
$36 billion, Jaenichen said.
“The Jones Act not only provides U.S.-flag ships, it provides work for U.S. shipyards, and the reason that the U.S.
Navy has been a very strong supporter [is because of] the
policy that they have promulgated over and over again —
that they are a very strong supporter of the U.S.-build
requirement of the Jones Act because it helps maintain the
industrial base necessary to build some of the less sophisticated Navy ships,” said Jonathan D. Kaskin, chairman of
the Navy League’s Merchant Marine Affairs Committee
and former director of Strategic Mobility/Combat Logistics
in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
Jaenichen said that about 41 of the nation’s shipyards
not only are building Jones Act ships, they also are building federal ships for the Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and
the Army Corps of Engineers.
“If you take away the Jones Act, and that commer-
cial capacity, now all of the federal ships that are going
to be built here — their price actually goes up because
overhead gets shifted to the government,” Jaenichen
said. “I’ve actually talked to some of the commercial
yards that are building Navy ships today, and [they]
have said if they did not have commercial work, they
could not stay in business on federal work alone. So
that is a huge problem.”
For years, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative
think tank in Washington, has argued to repeal the
Jones Act. In a May 2014 research paper, Heritage
argued that the Jones Act drives up shipping costs,
increases energy costs, stifles competition and hampers
innovation in the U.S. shipping industry.
“Originally enacted to sustain the U.S. Merchant
Marine, the law has instead fostered stagnation in the
U.S. maritime shipping industry,” the group says in the
In January, McCain filed an amendment to the
Keystone XL Pipeline bill to repeal the Jones Act.
“I have long advocated for a full repeal of the Jones
Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free
trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised
prices for American consumers,” said McCain on Jan. 13.
“The amendment I am introducing again today would
eliminate this unnecessary, protectionist restriction.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., accused McCain of
stifling progress of a record amount of new ship con-
Shipyard workers unload cable onto a truck in the Port of Houston. While critics maintain the Jones Act drives up shipping costs, stifles competition and
hampers innovation, supporters point to its importance in the nation’s shipping
industry and the domestic maritime job market.