Many of us here in the U.S. Flag Maritime Industry are patiently (others are somewhat impatient and rightfully so) awaiting some word, some sign that the ALL of the vessels which will construct and later maintain and repair the offshore wind power within the EEC and OCS will be solely US Flag vessels.
Although not evident at first, it is my opinion that this somehow ties into the lackluster progress being made in selecting a Maritime Administrator… One wonders- is there a latent political agenda lurking about behind the scenes? Hopefully not.
We of the US Flag Maritime Industry are faced with a dilemma with regard to the obvious lack of wind farm construction and maintenance vessels currently in the US Flag Fleet- Some of us even wonder if the vocal support from the current Administration is merely subterfuge- with all of the “support” garnered- all well and full knowing that there are no U.S. Flag Jones Act compliant vessels available- which will largely open the door to Waivers…
There are some sound solutions to prevent the encroachment of non US Flag vessels into this most lucrative area:
Enact Legislation which allows the temporary reflagging of suitable foreign vessels to US Flag, manned 100% by U.S. Merchant Mariners to accomplish the construction of these wind farms and their infrastructure. An assigned legal caveat to this measure would be attached to legislation, making it mandatory to also build Jones Act compliant vessels to later replace these “flagged in” vessels. This reflag program could be modeled after the current MSP.
If waivers are granted- then the Owner/Operator should be subject to a 50% or higher Ad Valorem tariff, the funds collected going to develop and construct US Flag vessels to replace the “waivered in” vessels.
Federal funds should be made available to aid in the development and conversion of US Flag offshore vessels and equipment- to convert these vessels into offshore wind construction and maintenance vessels…
There MUST be meaningful, easily enforced and highly punitive legislation to stop ANY foreign flag vessel encroachment in areas which are part of the EEC and OCS.