Fight to Keep The Jones Act


There are examples of ships that has lasted a long time in active service and there are examples of ships that suffer severe damages at a very early stage. The fact remains that older vessels are more prone to damages and accidents due to corrosion and/or fatigue, or due to machinery and and equipment failures than newer ships.

It is a fact that the average age of US flag ships are very high by international standard and there are no reason to believe that these ships are better designed, built, equipped or maintained than ships under other registers it is natural to compare with.

It should thus NOT be any surprise that incidents, accidents and near misses happen as frequently, if not more so on US flag ships as on ships under other White listed registers:


But what is not being widely reported is that a number of the Jones Act (cargo) companies currently have newbuilding programs that will replace a good portion of the oldest tonnage (i.e., steam ships). Pasha, Crowley, Matson all have ships under construction. Tote brought 2 into service within the last few years. Not to mention the numerous tankers have been delivered in the last 10 or so years. The status quo is changing.


The CG has gotten tougher on enforcement, they’ve put out the word to the companies that the older ships are going to be looked at a lot closer.


Yes the CG is getting tougher which is not necessarily a bad thing but I think the real driver is the 2020 IMO fuel regulations with regards to sulfur content not to mention the current ECA requirements. You just can’t run those old steamship on ULSD and expect to make money.


Does the safety and comfort of the seafarers happen to be ANY part their calculations??


Sure so long as it doesn’t effect profits business models in the USA at the moment don’t favor the workers in any way it’s all profit driven suck every penny you can out and leave your work force high and dry.


It may not have applied specifically to the 2020 fuel regs (don’t know) but in the past there would have been more sympathy in general towards getting waivers for owners of older ships, now I hear there is much greater reluctance to “grandfather” ships in when new regs come on line. That’s part of the way they apply pressure to owners, before it was OK, fine, now it’s “no mas”.

This is from 2012 - ECA Compliance Waiver Granted to US Shipowner TOTE

“This is the first permit issued under the Annex VI, Regulation 3 program, and it is tangible evidence that when committed organizations join together, innovative solutions can result,” said Phil Morrell, Vice President of Marine and Terminal Operations at TOTE.


The waivers were issued to give Tote time to retrofit their 2003 built Orca class RO-RO’s to operate on LNG. Loss of the El Faro caused a setback in that project. They were going to use it to fill in so as to allow those ships to go to the shipyard for the conversion work.

Matson took a different tack and opted to install scrubbers on their D7 class ships. (Horizon started the work and Matson followed through on it.)


Found this on the Regs thread:

All vessels powered by propulsion boilers (steamships) which were not originally designed for continued operation on marine distillate fuel or natural gas are exempt from the ECA’s sulfur requirementsbeginning on 1 January 2013 through January 1, 2020(MEPC.202(62)).U.S. flagged Great Lakes steamships(operatingexclusively on the Great Lakes)have been exempted by the EPA through 2025. USCG Marine Inspectorsor Port State Control Officers will notcheck for ECA compliance onboard U.S. or foreign flagged steamships during the interim period prior to 1 January 2013.


Are the same number of old buckets being scrapped??


I am guessing it will not be a one for one. I think more ships will depart than will be delivered. That said, the ones Crowley are building will replace/augment the tug & barge setup they currently have.


That’s not the Jones Act’s fault though.


Is it???


How many times is this argument going to be put forth?


Wow…where to begin with this gem. I’ll pick the topic of wages as that will be universally of interest to the forum. From the article:

“The daily operating costs, which include crew, tools, supplies, maintenance and repair, insurance, and overhead were tallied at $7,454 for foreign-flagged vessels, but a whopping $20,053 for U.S.-flagged vessels. Of the U.S. total, 68 percent ($13,655) was crew costs, as compared to 35 percent for foreign-flagged ships.”

I’ll be conservative and assume equal crews of 20 on each ship (in reality, the FOC crew is probably larger which would make these numbers even worse).

US crew wages average $682.75 per man per day. FOC wages are $130.45 per man per day. That would be 19% of the US wages.

If ever there was an argument to fight to keep the Jones Act, there it is.

At the bottom of the article, you’ll see that it is a product of the Cato institute ( ). Some of their highlights according to wikipedia:

“The institute opposes minimum wage laws…It is opposed to expanding overtime regulations…It opposes child labor prohibitions (!!!)…It opposes public sector unions and supports right-to-work laws”

So about as pro business/profit and anti worker as you can be.

The only thing shocking here is that our resident globalist didn’t post this first.


The guy that did has been pushing the same agenda over and over again himself.


Like you mention, no surprise there. At least for us Mariners. It’s very easy to draw a comparison to the larger issue of trade deficits and those cheaper products flooding the US market for years. I don’t think there is much of a difference in the products on the ships versus the people whom navigate them in terms of being pushed out by a cheaper foreign sourced alternative. Simple 3rd grade math.




Ok, I’ll bite on this one. A Jones Act company faces a replacement cost of, for example, $250M whereas a foreign FOC company can replace that same ship for $40M. It would make sense to me that the US operator would try to squeeze the maximum life possible out of that ship whereas the FOC guy might look a the costs at the 7.5 year or 10 year drydocking of a fully depreciated ship and compare it to the cost of a new ship and choose to replace the ship. Based on that, it seems that the Jones Act does contribute to an older fleet.

What am I missing?

But to me the counterpoint is to say so what? If the ship is well built and well maintained, what’s wrong with having an older average ship age?


The Jones Act if a closed market, all operators have the same build and maintenance costs. That makes operations more expensive (a few cents per load of bread) to cover those costs. A foreign operator’s reduced replacement costs would be an equivalent percentage of their profit to a Jones Act operator.

In fact, removing the Jones Act would directly cause US ships to be used longer and harder as they would need to use old worn out equipment longer in order to compete with the lower overhead of foreign operators.