Plans to extend Jones Act restrictions to vessels supplying equipment to offshore facilities in US waters will have to wait a bit longer – if not indefinitely – after authorities extended the comment period on the proposals.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has changed the deadline for comments from February 17 (this coming Friday) to April 18, two months hence.
Properly called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, the Jones Act permits only qualified vessels to ship cargo between US ports.
To be qualified a vessel must be US-made, US-flagged, US-owned and US-crewed (where crew can include permanent residents as well as citizens).
It has been challenged intermittently as being an unnecessary hamper on cost-effective shipping. But its advocates say its security aspect is needed more than ever.
The proposal under consideration would extend the act’s scope to foreign construction vessels working in the offshore oil and gas sector, delivering repair materials for pipelines and platforms. Hitherto these had been excepted from the act as being necessary equipment.
But supporters of the new proposal say that is a dangerous loophole.
The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), whose ranks include companies with vessels active in US waters, has welcomed the 60-day comment deadline extension.