Jones Act at 100: Celebrating America's maritime workers

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The following is text of a news release from the American Maritime Partnership (AMP):

(WASHINGTON) — The American Maritime Partnership, the voice of the domestic maritime industry, joins military and defense leaders, administration officials, bipartisan members of Congress from every state, and 650,000 men and women that work across the domestic maritime industry in celebrating and commemorating the importance of the American maritime industry on the centennial of the U.S. Merchant Marine Act. Over the past 100 years, the men and women of American maritime have always answered the call to duty, providing vital services and manpower in times of crisis.

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the U.S. Merchant Marine Act occurring on Friday, the American Maritime Partnership released this commemorative video to bring greater attention and awareness to the men and women that facilitate the nation’s maritime transportation needs, support a robust defense industrial base, and stand ready to always answer the call of duty in times of need.

Commonly referred to as the Jones Act, this vital security law ensures that only those vessels that are American-built, American-owned, and American-flagged can operate in domestic commerce, which in return strengthens and supports U.S. sovereignty and security while driving economic benefits to local communities.  

“Throughout America’s rich history, American maritime has been an essential cornerstone to the nation’s security and economic well-being,” said Mike Roberts, president of the American Maritime Partnership. “Over the last 100 years, the Jones Act has ensured the brave men and women of American maritime have stood ready to answer the call of duty in times of need. We remain grateful for broad bipartisan support in Congress so that American maritime remains a staple to American security.”

In the last century, the American maritime industry has been no stranger to crisis. This heroism was demonstrated in the activation of civilian merchant mariners who moved critical supplies to oversea troops and allies during the Second World War while enduring the highest rate of casualties of any service, the second-nature response of American vessel operators to descend on Manhattan on 9/11 to facilitate the largest boatlift in world history, and the ongoing work of domestic maritime operators to deliver critical medical supplies and goods to communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Often operating away from the public eye, American maritime workers deliver nearly one billion tons of goods each year with a fleet of 40,000 vessels. Both in times of war and peace, American maritime provides capacity and manpower that the armed forces can draw upon, ensuring American sovereignty and national security is not outsourced to other nations. Additionally, the U.S. Merchant Marine Act protects the nation’s 95,000 miles of coastline and inland waterways, limiting inland access to foreign vessels and crews while mariners serve as the eyes and ears to strengthen border and homeland security. 

To learn more about the heroes behind the American maritime industry that have remained indispensable to the nation’s security and prosperity, visit and tune in to episodes of the American Maritime Podcast here.

By Professional Mariner Staff