Jones Act


See 46 CFR 11.201(j)(1)(i). But, very few if any schools giving courses that substitute for a Coast Guard exam are allowed to give oral exams. It’s case by case, and specific approval is needed each time. The person giving the exam has to meet certain additional qualifications (oral examination is a specialized skill) that most of the normal instructors won’t meet. In almost 10 years directly involved with approved courses, I saw approval for exams given two or three times.

That happened before I started working for the Coast Guard in 1997. Neither the original parent school or the satellite school that became independent are still in business.


I worked inland from New Iberia to Mobile in 1997/98. One of the “captains” I worked with couldn’t read, but he knew which power pole to turn at to take a shourtcut through the bayou. Another didn’t have a license and the couple of times he got caught the company just put him in the yard for a couple of months before he went back to the tug. Engine oil drained into bilges. Bilges pumped at night.

I hear things are different now.

As to inland towboat operator skill. They are the best. Some guy doing paperwork as his electronics take him across the Atlantic to a pilot who docks the ship for him has no business criticizing inland operator’s abilities.


ive worked both inland and offshore. seen lot of guys with big impressive licenses that couldnt even leave the dock without hitting something.
come push 15 plus barges in high water sideways thru a bridge or bend snd call us inferior…
not knocking anyone, but comparing apples and oranges


Barge handling skills and local knowledge are 90% of what tugboating and towboating are all about.

However, the required barge handling skill set and the local knowledge requirements are quite different for tugboating vs. towboating.

Unlimited and OSV licenses and deepsea nd offshore experience do provide many transferable skills, but there is a very steep learning curve to acquire the barge handling and local knowledge necessary for tugboating and towboating.

To a significant extent, barge handlers are born not made. It’s like playing the violin, you can improve with practice, but not everyone has a talent for it.


I think that it’s correct that a lot of deep-sea mariners don’t appreciate the level of skills required in other sectors. It’s either from not knowing or arrogance, or some of both.

It’s also true that some do get it. For example in ports where there are docking pilots you can see the appreciation and respect.


That applies to ship handling in general. When I was doing ship assist you could very quickly tell when a trainee had “it” and when they didn’t.


This particular school was shut down in 2015 or 2016 and reopened a few months later under a new name. To my knowledge, nothing has changed. I just find it unfair to new guys coming up and dilutes the market with people that shouldn’t have the credential.


You should Send a private message to JDCavo with the name of that school so that he can look into it.




And the “Jones Act” fleet should count them all. Counting only deep sea self propelled ships over 10,000 gross ton is a game anti-Jones Act fans like playing.

Rest assured the inland, coastal, and offshore fleets are worthy of praise for doing their share of work and cargo movement.

If you think some guy wouldn’t hire a crew of foreigners and get rid of every American mariners on the Mississippi river pushing barges along the way, then you really don’t understand shipping at all. Its always about money. And a shipowner will find the lowest cost possible, if the law allows him to do it.

Therefore, I believe every brown and blue water hull should be accounted for. And the jobs that go with it.


I never said or implied otherwise so I’m not sure where this reply came from.