SUNY Maritime Issues Urgent Appeal to Jones Act Supporters
[by Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, President of SUNY Maritime]
Dear Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents, and Friends:
The U. S. maritime industry needs our help. Please join our advocacy campaign in support of the Jones Act and contact your elected officials today.
As you may know, there is much discussion in Washington, DC about waiving or permanently eliminating the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, otherwise known as the Jones Act. This federal statute requires, among other things, that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents.
Why does it matter to us?
The Jones Act directly relates to jobs for SUNY Maritime College graduates. Also, the Department of Defense, the Navy and the Coast Guard recognize the Jones Act as important to our national defense.
The Navy League is hosting an advocacy link. Click here and you will be directed to the message below. Timing is of the essence. The House vote could be later this week and the Senate vote next week.
Background / Message to be sent to elected officials:
The American maritime industry has played, and continues to play, a leading role in responding to the three recent hurricanes. Immediately after Hurricane Irma in Florida, a Jones Act armada responded to move fuel to address shortages in the state, and today a growing fleet of American vessels are at the forefront of the recovery effort in Puerto Rico.
We urge you to reject legislative proposals to waive or even repeal the Jones Act in Puerto Rico. American ships serve Puerto Rico regularly. The companies operating those ships have the dedicated systems and people in place to provide highly efficient service. They also have invested more than $1 billion in recent years in new, state-of the art containerships and terminals to improve their Puerto Rico service. The result is a cost-effective ocean bridge to Puerto Rico from the U.S. mainland. Federal officials have even highlighted the service currently provided by American vessels, and the Government Accountability Office has called American shipping "reliable" and "important to the Puerto Rican economy." Changing the law now would disrupt a successful, stable part of the transportation system for Puerto Rico at the worst possible time -- during the recovery effort.
Opponents of the Jones Act are essentially proposing to replace American shipping companies and American mariners with foreign shipping companies and foreign mariners operating outside of U.S. laws. Such an approach makes little sense any time but is especially ill-advised when American shipping companies and American mariners are providing exceptional, cost-effective transportation services during the recovery effort. Changes to the Jones Act now would only disrupt the recovery effort and harm Puerto Rico.
Leaders of the Department of Defense (DOD), the Navy, and the Coast Guard all strongly support the Jones Act and have spoken forcefully in support of it. Our armed forces rely on a strong American commercial maritime and shipbuilding industry for military sealift during times of war and national emergency. In addition, leading homeland security experts have spoken to the important role the Jones Act and the domestic maritime industry play in protecting our borders.
I urge you to support the Jones Act and oppose any attempts to change it. The Jones Act ensures we have sealift capability during times of war. A vote against the Jones Act is a vote to outsource American mariner and shipbuilding jobs and undermine national and homeland security.
This appeal appears courtesy of SUNY Maritime and may be found in its original form here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.