Jones act and airlines


If that was done, then the US sailor & the law that you suggest will be laughed out.

While the 3rd world (Indian/Filipino/Chinese) wages may look low, they in fact, earn much more than their US counterparts. They get paid in US$

a) when converted into their local currencies, is a more higher income, than what an US sailor gets paid. E.g., an AB making $1200 min, on a foreign flagged ship, would be INR77238/PP60354/Rnb7934. That income is significantly higher than their countries cost of living or what their land based peers earn.

b) that income, for them, is tax free, while the US sailor (depending also upon the state he lives in) is taxed.

c) Social security in India is tax free while the Philippines taxes it at 11%.

d) Most Indians and the Filipinos that I’ve spoken to, especially the unlic., own their own homes. Wiki US home ownerships and both India and the Philippines are higher on the list than USA.

Compare a&b to the taxes that we pay in USA with more yet to come, after the current tax bill is passed, and now you see the reason why there are many deep sea US sailors living abroad in Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam etc.

It’s a common fallacy to think that the 3rd world sailors make less money than the US sailor, when after converting that income into their home country currencies and benefits, its the US sailor who is at the losing end, in terms of income earned and taxes paid, while still having to pay bills, all in US$.


P.S. - An Indian captain of a NYK car carrier, whom I met in JAX last year, when asked how much he made, was open enough to say that he made US$10000/pm aka INR 640,000/pm, TAX FREE.

There’s a reason why the sailing job boards abroad are filled with Indians and Filipinos, all clamoring for sea jobs. If they were so low paying, as we in the USA love to believe, even beggars would ride horses.


You mean they’ll have to take a cut in wages and forgo the benefits they enjoy just to call at a US port??
Sorry, you are not going to see your wish come true.

If you want to compete on the world market you have to compete on even terms, not by a system that has been defunct for nearly a century. Build or buy a modern and efficient fleet of ships and modernize your maritime rules and regulations, incl. manning and certification.

The days when the US could dictate terms to the world is long gone. It is now only a pipe dream in the head of American fantasists without a hold on reality. (No names here)




“Build or buy a modern and efficient fleet of ships …”

The Great Lakes fleet & a few on the WC run like Midnight Sun, Horizon Consumer, etc notwithstanding, most of the tankers and the con-ro ships sailing in the Jones Act are all practically new builds. The Con-Ro ships that are built and being built are all dual powered.


Very profound. Care to debate and prove me wrong?


If you look at your claims in a relative sense then you are right. A Philippine or Malaysian seafarer might make a very good wage compared to his neighbors. With the tax and social benefits provided by most nations other than the USA their compensation package is better than other 3rd world nations.

But, the point is most Americans don’t live in a 3rd world nation or have any desire to move to one just to make a “relative fortune.” We want to make an income commensurate with the level of training, education, and time away from family that seafaring requires.

FoC shipowners don’t live in the same houses in the same villages that supply most of the FoC crews, they don’t make the same salary either so don’t expect me to go native in order to increase the owner’s bonus.

I am 100 percent in agreement that an American who wants to own a shipping company flagged in Bumfukistan should have to live there. If wifey coughs up a hairball and says “no fucking way Jack” then let Jack become a bachelor in Bumfukistan and let her get an American wage job to pay the mortgage because any cash he sends home or spends in some European pleasure palace should be taxed as if it were wages earned in the USA.

You want American living standards and benefits, then pay American taxes and pay your employees American salaries and benefits. You want to hire 3rd world villagers, go live in their village and pay American taxes anyway.


Steamer, with all due respect, this is what I was responding to:

The 3rd world country sailors, in fact, get paid more than 50% of US wages, once their incomes are converted into their tax free home currency, a currency in which they spend and save as v/s an US sailor, who earns, gets taxed, spends & saves in US$.

Nowhere was I referencing the US standards of living, health care, etc in my reply.

And that is the point which I made - A 3rd world country sailor does make an income which commensurates all that you mentioned, but does an US sailor?

In the deep sea sector, where I sail, my income fluctuates from ship to ship, contract to contract and operator to operator. As deck unlic, living in NYC, after taxes, I barely clear just over $5k/pm on a good ship. If I sail Maersk, I’ll at least get $346/wk, after taxes, as VA unemployment. But, if I sail Crowley or OSG or Tote or Central Gulf, there’s zero unemployment. Not to mention that 4hrs OT/day is not guaranteed on all their ships.

And neither is Wi-Fi. Yet, the 3rd world manned Maersk/NYK/Hoegh/OOCL etc ships that I’ve come across have that too. I am left to use either a shitty T-Mobile 2G free network or a shitty onboard computer which is used by ALL and tracked. When I sail into Mid-East, I am barred from going ashore, but not the 3rd world sailor. I decided against taking a job on Safmarine Nimba last week 'coz Turkey bars US sailors from coming ashore. I can name a few more US flagged ships and ports. Except for USA, I cannot think of any country/port which bars 3rd world sailors from going ashore and spending their hard earned $$$ to destress. 4 months on an US flagged ship without setting a foot ashore is called the US standard of living?

So, see how laughable is tugsailors’ comment in all respects.


The Brits got a couple of extra decades though by building in Japan & Korea that the Americans could not do. Its hard to compete internationally using obsolete equipment without the Jones act would US fleet still be operating 40 year old tonnage?


That 40 yr old tonnage aka the Great Lakes fleet that you’re referring to has a different requirement. It’s not only the US, but also the Canadians, whose Great Lakes fleet is equally old.

Most Jones Act ships are modern with Sat TV and Wi-Fi. It’s the deep sea fleet when compared to FoC competitors where shit happens.


Didn’t we just lose an over forty year old US ship in a storm a year or so ago? Didn’t I just see Matsonia sail out the Golden Gate last week?


The El Faro was waiting for her replacement to come astream and was a voyage or so away from retirement. So is the case with Matsonia. Her replacement was ordered in 2016.

Read what I wrote in response to ombugge above. The WC fleet is slowly being replaced.


Slowly being replaced indeed. The rest of the world replaces its tonnage before they are 20/25.


A voyage or so from retirement but how many voyages past when she should have been retired?


I’m really not too concerned with raising the living standards of seafarers in the third world —- not my problem. Note: I too have met Third world officers on ships who earn enough to live in mansions with servants at home.

My concern is American shipping and seafarers. I’d like to see a minimum wage for foreign ships trading with the US to help American seafarers and American flag ships compete on a more level playing field. If foreign Port State Control can compel American ships to comply with the MLC in foreign ports (which they do), then certainly American Port State Control can compel ships which choose to trade to American ports to comply with an American minimum wage for seafarers.

The most important thing would be to reserve a certain percentage of foreign trade between the US and it’s trading partners for US flag ships.

I’d like to see US tax laws changed to mirror those of our trading partners— no taxes on shipping or seafarers in foreign trade. I’d also like to see good national healthcare like our trading partners have, instead of making shipowners responsible for the health of US seafarers, as the Jones Act now does.


El Faro was not on her last voyages before retirement.
The polish workers, on board during her sinking, made the first preparations for her future life on the Alaska trade.


That would be an excellent start.


No they don’t.

That has nothing to do with this discussion.


Are you really that dumb or just trolling again?


That is the crux and the kernel of the problem.

There is no US shipping and there are no seafarers compared to the instigation of the Merchant Marine Act.

There is no STCW in the US and there is a dysfunctional regulatory and employment system.

The owners / investors realised this a hundred years ago and set up what are now called Open Registries but are decried as FoCs.

I have sailed under at least 15 flags, all subscribe to IACS, all insured and underwritten. All complying with ISM and audited by a RO.

There was a time when the USCG was seen as the gold standard in ship inspection, now it is seen as a joke now that the MoUs have their common standards.

America could and should have a vibrant shipping industry, but putting up more and more barriers and tariffs will be ultimately self defeating.

Look at Brasil. They had cabotage on some coastal trades. They, also had a form of a Jones act for the oilfields to encourage domestic shipbuilding and expertise.

What happened:

The US has been a world leader since WWI, but the axis has shifted to Asia and that is the reality.

China is re-establishing itself as the global player.

Whilst ship building has been a train wreck in Brasil their other protectionist rules had some benefits. Brasil, economically, is maybe 50 years behind the USA but advancing rapidly. They has an import duty of 200% on cars. The auto makers realised this was a barrier so GM, Ford, Volkswagen, AGCO set up plants in Sao Paulo, Curitiba etc. These plants became part of their global manufacturing base, much as they did in South Africa, with similar restrictions.

Having trade restrictions / subsidies can work whilst a manufacturing base or industry becomes established. QV China!

But ships and shipping are, by pure definition, floating assets. The US, and NA, are no longer the New World and an isolated ecosystem. If there is one it is Russia. To try and make the rest of the world comply to cabotage in the 21st century plainly can’t work. Indonesia has similar rules to the Jones Act, with similar results. Outdated ships, outdated management and high casualty rates.

Whilst cabotage initially protects yards and owners it stifles competition of an international caliber. Indonesia has 18,000 domestic vessels.You would not want to sail on any of them, the casualty rate is very high and most of it poorly regulated - lax inspections and brown envelopes everywhere.

The USA are the United States of America. Perhaps therein lies a solution. Let each state have a registry (Fact is it almost has already) and let it be an open market. The fact is IACS and PSC are the key holders to standards in the industry, and no amount of domestic regulation will have an impact in a global market. The trade will simply move elsewhere.

Sadly to say perhaps it needs the like of Trump to shake things up.


U.S. $10,000 per month is what I don’t believe for Indian captain.