Jones Act Attack 2

How many Jones act ships operate on the coastal United States (excluding Puerto Rico/Hawaii/Alaska/Lakeboats)? How many shipping jobs are from the MSP in comparison?

it seems like a spiraling problem to me:

  1. Not enough ships built to make better shipbuilding techniques viable

  2. This keeps the cost high for building them making rail/truck the answer for most cargo since it is cheaper

  3. This causes less cargo for ships and less demand for ships

  4. This lowers the demand to produce ships making production of them more expensive

Thus this is why we have lakeboats that they’d rather swap out entire engines and even engine systems than build a new hull until the old hull essentially cracks in half (and maybe they keep running it even then)

I’m not saying getting rid of the Jones Act would fix this, but this issue isn’t going to get better without some economic or political change.

I’d suggest developing a subsidy to innovate US shipyards, or at least making it a requirement to building a Jones Act ship to use robotic welding and automation in construction… jump start the US shipyards where they can produce cheap vessels and this problem would be solved with mostly everyone happy

Europe (The Netherlands for sure!)has a thriving shipbuilding industry for coaster/feeder vessels. Admittedly, countries are far smaller and there are lots of opportunities for cross-boarder trade, but it is a shame we don’t have small bulk/container feeder boats running on the east and Gulf coasts.

To say we “can’t” is admitting we have no national interest…and that is a shame. The economics are beyond me, but on the surface it seems we should be able to do it.

Hot take: the US doesnt need to protect its shipbuilding capacity. If we need shipbuilding capacity, we can make it happen. Most of the WWII shipyards still have rail connections and land, and graving docks. Richmond CA comes to mind, its literally 90% parking lot for a roro terminal right now.

If WWIII breaks out and we realize we neithet have ships nore people to drive them, some Elon Musk Bezoz google dude is going to come out of the wood work, design autonomous self propelled barges, that can be built eaiser than a T2 Tanker and 15 at a time will be driven by a single KP grad in Colorado Springs or some shit.

The build requirment is holding us back. The Navy can keep what we have alive.

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Why not make it attractive for Musk or Bezos to build some car carriers or containerships? If he can operate rockets that much cheaper than NASA I bet they could do the same with commercial ships?
Build requirement is hard, but not much you can do. If we introduce foreign builds it could be a slippery slope for the mariners being next?

The high cost of longshoremen prevents more robust US domestic short sea shipping. The loading and unload costs more than the operation of the ships. The extra building cost due to the Jones Act is trivial.


Interesting. Should get the CATO institute to shift to replacing longshoremen with immigrants. Should go over well.


Tugsailor for the win. The low/no volume feeders from Freeport, Halifax, etc need to be considered when the discussion turns to a lack of domestic feeder services.

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The regulations haven’t caught up for unmanned shipping, and other folks have the marker cornered for anyone without massive subsidies to build ships.

I know nothing ablut raising chickens, but if the US government gave me $5 million up front and $100 per chicken delivered, you bet id be the best damn chicken farmer in the state.

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It’s just interesting to me how Edison Chouest Offshore can design build and deliver their own boats whenever they want. Private company. Granted at a smaller scale ~300’ ships vs ~600+’, but also with more complex systems on board.

And all the CATO guys say is how it costs 5-10x the cost to build a tanker, boxship, etc in the states…which I don’t think is false necessarily I just don’t think anyone cares to ask why.

The lazy route is the CATO guys, they want JA repealed, bring in the foreigners and foreign ships asap, dissolve the USMM, because it will result in slightly cheaper gas prices in the southeast and a few easier trade markets around the US.

Not sure what my point is I’m just typing.


Doesn’t have to be a slope of any kind. The airline industry buys and flies aircraft of all sizes from many foreign sources yet is very tightly regulated as to who can own and who can crew them.
It’s not rocket science and we don’t need some new tech solution to a problem that an honest politician (as if one exists today) can solve with a pen stroke.

Our problem isn’t the Jones Act, it’s a lack of will and a surplus of campaign finance fueled corruption.


Exactly…the US builds 300ft+ DP2/3 mudboats, but a Wagenborg size, single screw multi-purpose freighter is too expensive? There is something fishy in the “cost to build” argument.


Sounds very optimistic. Don’t know other places but here in NY/NJ area almost all shipyards grounds are gone, taken over by condos and entertainment.

I wonder what the US population would do if we told them either all planes were gonna be unmanned or all the captains and crew of planes were going to be replaced with Filipino and other cheap foreign labor.

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The Navy has trained an oligopoly of mega corporation defense contractors that own large shipyards that they can be very profitable while being very inefficient and that cost is no object. Most Navy builds are far over budget and far behind delivery schedules. The Navy always bails them out and guarantees them a fat profit.

It’s no wonder that the handful of remaining large shipyards cannot competitively build commercial ships. Its a lost art.

The US has also lost its large commercial ship building infrastructure. In general, environmental rules, land use permitting, healthcare costs, workers comp costs, etc etc have driven heavy manufacturing out of the US.

(Did you see the recent news that Nippon Steel is buying US Steel for $14 Billion?).

Nonetheless, hundreds of small US shipyards produce quality vessels at competitive cost.


digging into shipyards that built more than 100 ships:

Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. Chester, Pennsylvania: Race track and condos.

Bethlehem Fairfield, Baltimore, Maryland: RORO Parking lot, plenty of room, still has Rail access.

North Carolina Shipbuilding Wilmington, North Carolina: Has become Port of Wilmington, but still has rail access.

Southeastern Shipbuilding, Savannah, Georgia: In the process of being gentrified, but there is still land there and still rail access.

J.A. Jones Construction, Brunswick, Georgia: Open park, still has rail access, ramps still there. (technically only built 99 but close enough)

Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding: Tacoma, Washington: Seattle, is now container terminal. Tacoma still has rail, still has land.

Kaiser Richmond: Still has Rail, graving docks, RORO parking lot.

Oregon Shipbuilding, Portland: Coordinates on WIkipedia shows it’s currently a scrap terminal, but about a mile south is a giant fucking roro parking lot, with rail connection.

California Shipbuilding, Terminal Island, Los Angeles, California: Container terminal now.

Kaiser Vancouver Shipyard, Vancouver, Washington: Looks like the original buildings are there, ruins of the slipways are there, still has rail.

I hit enter too fast but my Moring google maps exercise and this Wikipedia article leads me to believe that with some immanent domain and another emergency shipbuilding act, it will be easier than the first time.

ACL also has their own shipyards as well. You can install systems wherever you want, but when most OSVs can fit in one or two cargo tanks on a tanker, it’s a logistical struggle. It’s a high school math problem calculating how much more steel you’d need as you expand the volume of a ship. ECO doesn’t have rail access like the Brownsville yard, I’m sure it makes economic sense for them, but they’ve got to be paying a premium for their materials to be delivered.

The graving dock is still there too, that’s where BAE (Norshipco) sends their Titan drydock for repairs and maintenance.

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