Jones Act savaged

The Jones Act, the 95-year-old cabotage laws that govern US waters, has come in for savage criticism from our readers. In the latest MarPoll, the quarterly online topical survey carried on this site for sister title Maritime CEO, 65.2% of the 400 plus respondents so far believe the Jones Act is not fit for purpose.

The legislation has been under the spotlight lately following the sinking on October 1 of the 40-year-old El Faro boxship, a US flagged vessel belonging to American owner, Tote.

“The Jones Act is clearly dangerous for shipping with a 40-year container vessel remaining in service. Furthermore, at the insane price of $150m for a 50,000 dwt product tanker built in the US, the business model is not a commercially sustainable without the US government’s misguided support,” one respondent to our survey commented.

Another voter claimed: “The Jones Act is counter-productive and a main reason why the US Merchant Navy has declined to almost nothing.”

There were, however, plenty of supporters to the legislation.

“If anything the Jones Act should be enhanced with laws to include both subsidies and training for US shipbuilders and mariners. This will provide jobs and help with infrastructure to promote a better America,” argued another reader.

Three weeks ago as the furor surrounding El Faro escalated American shipyards issued a fierce rebuttal of repeated links between the Jones Act and the sinking of the containership.

“To imply that vessels that do not have to comply with rigorous US safety standards are safe than those that do defies common sense,” said Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders’ Council of America (SCA). “To try and connect a law that works to protect our economic and national security to this tragedy, particularly during a period when our industry family is mourning such a loss is not only incorrect, but shameful.”

The Jones Act is is one of eight topical questions posed in our regular MarPoll. Other issues up for discussion include emissions, social media and cyber crime. Voting takes less than two minutes and there is no registration – comments are also welcomed. Results will be revealed in the next issue of Maritime CEO magazine. To vote, click here.

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