(NEW ORLEANS) — The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) has launched Jones Act Enforcer, the first vessel of its kind that will be used to gather video and photographic evidence of Jones Act violations. Evidence of violations will be submitted to authorities, made public and shared with the media.
The Jones Act — which requires seaborne cargo shipped between two U.S. points to be carried by U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed and U.S. owned vessels — is the primary component of U.S. maritime policy and is vital to American national, homeland and economic security. For this reason, the Jones Act enjoys the support of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, Maritime Administration (MarAd) and members of Congress.
Despite the Jones Act’s importance and support, the act is not fully enforced. Specifically, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has approved dozens of loophole requests from foreign vessel owners that are not found in law. Once approved, these loopholes are exploited repeatedly by other vessels. Each time a loophole is exploited, American crewmembers lose out.
OMSA has long fought to close these illegal loopholes through Congress, multiple presidential administrations and even filing suit against CBP. These efforts have yielded progress, but there continue to be far too many loopholes allowing too many foreign vessels to work in offshore energy projects.
“The act is not being implemented in a manner that is correct under the law and as a result American security is being threatened and American workers are losing jobs to foreign vessels,” said Aaron Smith, OMSA president and CEO. “It’s time that someone takes a stand and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
“The Jones Act is very simple. If a foreign vessel picks up cargo at one point in the United States and takes it to another point, it has broken the law,” Smith continued. “Foreign vessels have succeeded in confusing this issue for a long time. Now, we’re going to shine a bright spotlight on their actions and show everyone just how many foreign mariners are taking money out of U.S. mariners’ pockets. If foreign vessel owners or the companies they work for don’t like this scrutiny, I suggest they hire U.S.-owned, U.S.-crewed and U.S.-built vessels.”
OMSA said Jones Act Enforcer will produce evidence showing foreign-flag vessels that continue to violate U.S. law by transporting merchandise between points in the U.S., utilizing their significantly lower crewing costs to undercut American vessels and American workers.
“OMSA, along with our over 140 member companies, has decided to take action with the launch of the Jones Act Enforcer,” said Smith. “Evidence will be collected through aerial and surface surveillance equipment made public and turned over to authorities.”
Jones Act Enforcer is a 150-foot converted crew boat that was built in 2007. Formerly known as Harvey Hustler, it delivers 7,000 horsepower and a speed of 20 knots.
– Offshore Marine Service Association