McCain Proposal

So I was reading McCain’s proposal for the Jones Act and it really got me thinking. Would there be any advantage of removing the “US built” part of the Jones Act? Do you think this would add any vessels for the US? I’m just thinking about merchant ships, not military. Would this really hurt many ship yards? How many merchant vessels (outside tugs and OSVs) use American ship yards? What say you?

I would say to ask someone that works in a U.S. Yard and they will have the same feeling that we do about foreigners working on US flagged vessels.

My guess is there are more non Jones Act approved, US flagged ships than there are Jones Act approved ships. So they go over seas any how.

When you add in all of the small vessels that carry passengers, tugs, osvs, and so forth I would think more stay here than end up over seas. Obviously the majority of these are not built to STCW standards.

I have long argued that getting rid of the US build requirement would be good for American shipping. Our shipyards have become bloated and inefficient because so much of their work is for the US Government. In my experience on recent build US vessels, the quality is bad and the problems are many. These yards are putting out expensive vessels that are built to the bare minimum standard. I realize that getting rid of the US build requirement would be the first step to complete repeal of the Jones Act, but it could also be a start to a revolution in American shipping. If we have this revival, there will be even more pressure to keep the Jones Act. I know that American companies can build vessels in a foreign yard for Jones Act service at a 15-20 percent discount. This would make them more competitive on not only the Jones Act trade, but foreign trade as well. We desperately need foreign trading US flag vessels (that aren’t being subsidized), and if they can participate in coastwise trade that is a great thing. We cannot rely on MSP subsidies because who knows how long they will be around. I know I have rambled, but I wrote a thesis on this exact topic for an MBA course. If I get around to it, I will put it on this forum for everybody to read. I am a staunch supporter of the US Flag and want jobs for American mariners and shipyard workers, I just feel that the way the Jones Act is implemented could be changed for the betterment of all concerned entities.

One more thought: Cabotage laws exist in aviation as well, however; there are no build requirements to the aviation laws. Chances are somewhat good that the last time you flew on a US domestic flight it was on an airplane that was made in France, Germany, Canada or Brazil. Has this hurt the American aviation industry? Has this hurt the American aerospace industry? Most people would say no. Next time you fly, look at the safety card in your setback pocket. It will say where the airplane was built. (Delta even has a couple MD-90s that were built under license in China).

Very good point. You are spot on correct.

I have proposed here previously that the US build requirement be waived for new coastwise maritime services only to allow existing foreign vessels be used to establish the service but that an equivalent US built vessel be constructed once such a service becomes viable (say after 5 years of business). This way new services are started creating jobs for mariners and ultimately for the shipyards in the end as well.

What I do not advocate is that foreign built ships be allowed into coastwise trade in direct competition with US built vessels as that will unfairly benefit the non US built vessel owners and penalize the owners with more expensive US built vessels. Allow the foreign vessels to compete with the US vessels and nobody will have any incentive at all to build in the US ever again.

I fully agree there. I think that is a good plan for both the country, the mariners, and the shipyard workers.

Sadly, I agree with Surfrider. The price has gone up and the quality has gone down due to no competition. How many government ships have been “delivered” only to go back to the yard and fix things that were broken before the boat was even delivered?! How many MSC ships are US built? I think giving incentives for building in US shipyards would be great, but I think giving companies options to build elsewhere would force US shipyards to step their game up.

There’s a lot of talk about “ships” with the Jones Act requirements, but what about the tugboats, barges and ATBs? Were the Jones Act build requirements done away with, how many of those do you think would be built in the U.S.? I believe c.captain has a valid propsal - one that has been attempted by at least one company, but which - if I recall correctly - did not get approved. The build-requirement of the Jones Act would be the first brick out of the wall, but I think it would be a crucial brick that would eventually lead to the repeal of the Jones Act - [I]which is just what McCain wants![/I]

Cabotage laws exist worldwide. The picture painted by McCain, his cronies and the media of the U.S. being the last one standing with these “antiquated” laws is for show. It’s for the general, uninformed public. If THEY are the only ones being heard, it is what people will believe. Where’s MARAD? Aren’t they supposed to be supporting and promoting the U.S. merchant marine? Perhaps a few million dollars into a marketing campaign and less on oral histories of MARAD employees and the refurbishment of ship models, perhaps the shipping industry would be a little more visible. And its importance a little better understood.

Let’s face it, the only places that no longer have cabotage laws (the UK comes to mind), would love to have them back. Why? So that the local merchant mariners could have jobs. In the end, it’s up to us to stand fast and not play into the hands of the politicians. There’s a saying, “United we stand, divided we fall.” Well, getting rid of the Jones Act build requirement (and the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of GDP) is dividing. And in the end? You got it, we fall.

Maybe we need to have the same thing that happened to the US auto industry happen…foreign management come in and open or take over shipyards. Worked swell with Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz. They can manage to assemble cars in the US that sell in the US at a profit, while the Detroit Crew can’t seem to assemble cars in Mexico and Canada to sell at a profit here in the States.

Same US workers, different Management…

If US yards would build a quality product at a cost the market could bear, we wouldn’t NEED the “build American” requirement of the Jones Act. But when the Coast Guard can’t even get seaworthy brand new cutters from a US yard, we have some very fundamental PROBLEMS in that regard, don’t we?

Heck, the way things are going, all the Jones Act build requirement does is protect the jobs of foreign workers in US yards anyway.

[QUOTE=RichMadden;157320] Where’s MARAD? Aren’t they supposed to be supporting and promoting the U.S. merchant marine? [/QUOTE]

MARAD is securely in the pockets of the American owners of foreign flag shipping companies and the politicians those companies have purchased to scuttle American flag shipping. McCain is merely the hired mouthpiece for those interests.

Babs Mikulski spent much of her career in the Senate claiming to support the U.S. Merchant Marine, now she claims she is not going to run for office again and will spend her final term speaking out for issues that don’t make good re-election material. She has lived well off the maritime unions, maybe it is time for her to repay the American mariner for all her weekends at the MEBA mansion and access to union PAC money and really do something for us.

Until we can get one of the senate parasites to make loud, long, and embarrassing noises that point out to the general public that McCain and his ilk are selling them off to foreign interests and other American Quislings we don’t stand a chance.

[QUOTE=lm1883;157326]Menominee / Marianette shipyard is partially if not fully owned by Italians, and I am under the impression that Philly’s yard is owned by Akers? How many others have foreign interests?

I often wonder about American yards importing sections of vessels and simply assembling them here like the Danish yards. Is that what the Phily yard is doing?[/QUOTE]

British Rolls-Royce thrusters, German engines, Norwegian design, Croatian or Chinese steel welded together by Romanians and painted by Mexicans…SUPPORT U.S. SHIPBUILDING! ([I]We own the trailers they stay in and collect their rent money[/I]).

We COULD do all this ourselves, if we only had the will to do so.

It is definitely a slippery slope for Jones Act repeal, but the bigger picture is the part of our fragile economy that is dependent on tax revenue from labor and american based companies. With the loss of shipyard employment also go the companies that support those shipyards. Then there is the loss of revenue from the logistical end such as transportation. I contend the ripple effect will be farther reaching then the likes of John McCain might anticipate. Detroit is still reeling from the effects of its manufacturing decline. Most of the city is pretty much in ruin, with large areas that can barely be give away. With the catastrophic loss of tax revenue, services such as fire and law enforcement are in serious decline. Many of the city’s residents refuse to pay because of the decline of those services, and so the situation spirals ever downward. And that is only one city among many others that withered over the past ten years. Do we have to work smarter, build better, and be more competitive? Absolutely. But with a one-two punch like this, would that industry ever be able get back up off the mat to meet those ends? It ain’t the 1% that pays the bills in this country.

We’re destined for a future of Chinese built and Chinese crewed vessels shipping cargo world wide. All hail the lowest bidder, while the cronies here leach what they can before their time runs out, with no concern for anything else.

Just a thought to throw out there. I wonder if the workers in U.S. Shipyards ever wonder why they can’t get rid of the U.S. Crews on Jones Act Vessels but still require that they be built and maintained in the U.S.

As far as I am concerned any changes to the Jones Act will make it all the more easier for Assholes like McCain to put an end to the Entire Jones Act.

My guess is they couldn’t care less as long as the check clears.

Excellent thread. My compliments to all for a good discussion that actually stayed on topic. There’s an old Arab saying if you’re inside your tent and you see a camel stick his nose under the edge of of the tent, you’ll see the rest of the camel shortly. Repeal one sentence of the Jones Act is the beginning of repealing the whole act. It’s a little like the military…" no one left behind"…it’s a shame that our team mate
(Shipyards) is such a fat, slow sucker.

I guess in the end I feel like we the sailors are getting the biggest screw. American shipyards are expensive and the quality doesn’t match the price. So no one is building ships with better hulls and machinery, which would drop operating costs, they’re just calling to end the Jones Act and send all the work over seas. I just wish we could do something to make American shipyards step their game up and bring the prices down so we can get more ships.