Fight to Keep The Jones Act

I’m not sure about ownership. It can be difficult to figure out who actually owns some vessels or companies, or what the true nationality of multinational companies might be. Lots of “foreign” companies are actually mostly owned by Wall Street financiers, of public stockholders. Some American companies pretend to be foreign.

Generally, any vessel that can be registered foreign is for the tax, cost, and regulatory advantages. American workers can never compete with Filipinos or Indians on cost, nor should they try. Some companies/ nationalities, like the Norwegians, simply don’t want to hire Americans. This not a situation that should be tolerated on the US continental shelf. If oil is going to be drilled in the US and the US is going to bear the environmental risks, then Americans need to get the business and jobs. Otherwise, the oil, wind or whatever should be left where it is.


Ummm yea dude. Exactly the reason the iPhone or computer you just typed that response on was made in China, not England or the US.

Chicken and egg… As long as waivers are given out like candy, what US flag operator will shell out the multi millions required to build one of these new state of the art vessels?

Same concept as H1-B visas… Why invest in training domestic people when a cursory post on an employment website followed by a claim that no qualified (aka, willing to work for the offered wage) applicants were available will get the company a fresh worker from overseas?

Strengthening the rules to be pro US worker coupled with strict enforcement of those rules is a prerequisite before anything will change.


exactly! for a very short while during the last administration it seemed as if the end was at hand for the waivers given to the foreign entities and there was much rejoicing in Louisiana by the likes of ECO, Hornbeck and HGIM that they were finally going to be granted that exclusive right to the work and thus the incentive to build and operate the highly sophisticated vessels the industry demands, however before one could pop the top on a cold one, the powers of the lobbyists for the API and NOIA weighed in and all that rejoicing was silenced. Had those waivers granted to the likes of Technip, Heerma and Aker been rescinded you know that first would have been the Americanization of existing foreign vessels working on the OCS and then would have come the building of replacement vessels in the USA. How can the US and US workers have been losers if that had happened? They would have won handily and only big oil would have lost and who here has any pity for big oil? NOT ME!


agreed but then there would be the Federal courts to turn to and you can rest assured that Jones Act carriers would fund that fight for their own survival

there is this today to tell us that all is not black although what I read here seems a bit timid in its requirements but it is better that what we have today

let us hope that this bill progresses and makes it into law

The Jones Act hulls to fill this need were ordered and some built, Harvey Gulf’s 340’ MPSVs, HOS’s 310’ and 370’ MPSVs, and the big Ulstein SX165 that ECO was going to build at LaShip.
CBP’s abandonment of this proposal has left these boats in limbo along with a lot of other tonnage.

It is not as simple as saying that foreign owners/managers don’t want to hire Americans when working in the GoM. It is not logical, economical or, in some cases, even legal.

A vessel that work in the GoM from time to time will arrive with a permanently employed national or international crew. In many cases the Officers especially have been working for the company for years, know the vessel and the type of work to be carried out well.

European crews are protected by labour laws and unions. They cannot be dismissed just because the ship happens to get a job in the GoM, even if of some duration. If they are, they will be entitled to termination pay that could amount to very large sums

Most of the foreign vessels that you see in the GoM works worldwide. Sometimes they spend a few weeks/months only in any one area of operation. If they are to replaced the existing crew with locals in every location they operate there would be no continuity and experience on board. Safety and efficiency would suffer and the locals that take on such jobs would have no job security. (Just ask the Aussies)

So, as long as American owners don’t want to invest in the type of vessels the market demands there will be a need for foreign vessel to come in and do the jobs that local vessels are incapable of performing efficiently. The same applies everywhere. When special type of vessels are required and none are available locally, the necessary equipment is mobilized from wherever it can be found and at acceptable cost. (Today safety and efficiency may count as much costs though)

The last time I said something that was remotely interpreted as non-Jones Act rah-rah, I was accused of not being a mariner.

But I have to say, the title of this thread is really focused on the wrong priority. Rather than fighting to keep the Jones Act, we should be fighting to protect the U.S. Merchant Marine. If you believe that the Jones Act in its current form has created an environment where our mariners are thriving, then keep on going. Otherwise we need to roll up our sleeves and seriously start thinking about what policy might actually bring this about.

The cost of building all the needed construction, pipelay, seismic, etc. vessels, crewing them with Americans, and training those Americans would not add 50 cents to the cost of a barrel of oil.

If the oil companies are not willing to use American vessels and crew, the oil should be left where it is. Sooner or later, they will want that oil and build American vessels to go get it.

I would not have a problem with reflagging a limited number of foreign built rigs and specialized vessels , until US built vessels are ready for deployment.

Same with offshore wind. The offshore wind developers should be training Americans for this work overseas right now. European designed CTVs are already being built in the US. The large European designed wind installation vessels can also be built in the US. Foreign vessels and crews should not be allowed into The US for offshore wind construction. If they want to reflag a few foreign vessels US to get started that’s ok, but no foreign flag vessels allowed.

We don’t need offshore wind. It’s an expensive American taxpayer and American ratepayer/consumer funded feel good project. Build it with Americans or don’t build it at all.


While US wants to strengthen cabotage laws India is doing the opposite:

The day we find ourselves saying “wow, we should really follow India’s lead”, it’s probably game over anyway


Lmao, very true. The election between Trump and Hillary was based around Immigration, Health Care, Taxes etc… A cornerstone of Prime Minister Modi’s reelection campaign in India was to get one shitter per household.

Also, “while the US wants to strengthen cabotage laws”…dude it’s not just us so quit singling the USA out.


A lot of what Heerema does is highly technical and there isn’t enough work in the US to gain proficiency, let alone work full time.

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Those were only some of the need. They didn’t try to do the more specialized equipment because there isn’t enough work for American boats to make sense.

Some waivers will be necessary for technical work by specialist companies with specialist equipment and special expertise, like Heerma, doing short term work, but they should be required to hire and train extra Americans while working on the US OCS.

America put men on the Moon over 50 years ago. No one else has ever been able to do that. Americans have designed and executed successful unmanned missions to Mars, and have sent the first spacecraft past Pluto. No one else can do that. Nothing is too complicated or technical for Americans to do.

\Americans have also long proven their success at marketing their technology and expertise abroad, and must continue to do so.

Americans should develop the equipment, skills and expertise to do whatever needs doing in the US. The US should never allow its basic industries and national security to be dependent on foreign specialists and their specialist foreign equipment.

It must be national policy to fully Americanize US offshore energy production, while leaving some room to innovate and leverage foreign technology and expertise.


Absolutely. A reasonable portion of US foreign import/export trade must be reserved for US flag ships, say 20%.

It should be obvious that a foreign going commercial fleet of less than 100 ships, and constantly shrinking, is dangerously close to no ships at all. Also, such a small fleet becomes more and more expense to maintain under existing preference and subsidy programs.

A fleet of several hundred ships with corresponding infrastructure is necessary to be viable. US flag ships and mariners paying US taxes with US regulatory burdens will always be more expense and require preferences and subsidies.

A large US fleet would significantly improve quality and operating cost of US ships. But some type of government support will always be essential.

The ultimate result of the Jones Act is an aggregate economic cost to the U.S. economy. But in my opinion (and most other US mariners), this cost is warranted due to the national security implications associated the U.S. maritime industry. Still, if the current policy as exercised is not achieving its goals (we have neither a robust shipbuilding sector, a healthy system of waterways commerce, nor a sustainable merchant marine), then it must change.

I don’t argue that subsidy and some protectionism isn’t required. But I do think that it needs to be rebalanced. I would prefer that much smarter minds than mine tackle that task. But at the risk of upsetting the entire shipbuilding industry, I would start with reexamining the domestic build requirement.

The cost of the Jones Act is trivial compared to the extra cost of US doctors, dentists, school teachers, truck drivers, construction workers etc. when they are replaced with low cost and equally capable Filipinos and Indians, it will be time to reconsider the Jones Act.


The day will come, but yes, “the game will probably be over” by then.
No empire lasts forever.

You mean Indonesia? They are trying to do what you guys are suggesting, but it is not working any better for them than for you.

There are a lot more than Heerema that do “highly technical” things in the GoM and around the world. Saipem, Technip, Subsea 7, Allseas is but a few that do the big stuff. Some of the more complex work is done by smaller operators with very sophisticated vessels and equipment.
What they have in common? They all work internationally, with an international work force.

True. It is also true that 50 years ago the Americans were the only ones with the technology and knowhow to explore and exploit offshore oil and gas. American Oilcos, rigs, boats and workers were everywhere and new oil field technology developed in USA was exported to countries around the world.

Today you hardly find any US flagged rigs, boats or personnel working outside USA, even for US Oilcos.
New technology for the offshore industry are no longer being developed exclusively in the US, if at all.

What happened???