Jones Act Shouldn't Change for Puerto Rico


Published Sep 14, 2015 8:37 PM by The Maritime Executive

In a letter sent to Congress leadership on September 9, the Navy League of the United States addressed ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee urging them to oppose any changes to the Jones Act in the event any legislation is considered to assist Puerto Rico during its economic crisis.

The Navy League claims to have set the record straight on false claims by Jones Act opponents that the law and the maritime industry is to blame for the Puerto Rican debt crisis. As the Navy League indicates in its letter, the Jones Act is critical for the island’s national and economic security.

“Exempting Puerto Rico from the Jones Act would undermine national security. The U.S.-mainland-to-Puerto-Rico trade is a major American non-contiguous shipping trade. Ironically, Puerto Rico soon will be served some of the most modern, state-of-the-art vessels in the American fleet. Exempting Puerto Rico and changing the rules in the middle of the game would cause a ripple effect that would impact the entire American shipping industry.

“…the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) recently completed the most comprehensive study of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico ever and focused heavily on the impact on national security. GAO correctly noted that “the military strategy of the United States relies on the use of commercial U.S.-flag ships and crews and the availability of a shipyard industrial base to support national defense needs.””

The letter comes on the heels of recent news reports that have included statements by familiar opponents of American maritime that have sought to capitalize on the debt crisis and undermine an industry that for decades has provided consistent and reliable transport of goods to the people of Puerto Rico, says the League.

The full letter is available here.