American Maritime Partnership Will Not Oppose Jones Act Waivers In Wake of Sandy

The American Maritime Partnership, representing more than 40,000 Jones Act vessels, issued a statement late Thursday regarding the delivery of petroleum and other cargoes to areas hit by Hurricane Sandy saying that, although the U.S. maritime industry is already working around the clock to ensure speedy delivery of much needed cargoes to areas of the northeast, they will not oppose any Jones Act waivers necessary to assist with disaster relief.

The Jones Act requires that domestic cargoes be shipped with U.S.-owned, operated, and crewed vessels, however, under certain circumstances, the law allows for waivers where American vessels are not available.

AMP’s statement is below:

“Nothing is more important right now than the safety and security of our fellow Americans. The American maritime industry is working around the clock responding to the emergency and ensuring the delivery of petroleum and other needed products to regions affected by Hurricane Sandy.

“To date, we are aware of no instances in which American vessels have not been able to meet transportation needs. Existing law allows for the granting of Jones Act waivers in certain circumstances where American vessels are not available. In such a circumstance, the American maritime industry will not stand in the way of needed Jones Act waivers. That has been our position in previous similar national emergencies, and it is our position today.”

On Friday, American Maritime Partnership reiterated its stance on Jones Act waivers, with the following letter to President Obama:

Dear Mr. President:

The domestic maritime industry stands by ready to help in any way as our nation responds to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Nothing is more important right now than the safety and security of our fellow Americans.

Today our industry is working around the clock responding to this emergency. There is nothing new about that. The emergency response to every national disaster near water involves the active participation of our nation’s domestic maritime industry. To give just one of many examples, American vessels transported nearly 500,000 individuals away from lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, a response that has been called “the greatest sea evacuation in history, larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II…”

We are similarly committed to doing everything possible to assist the response to this disaster. Our industry is already actively facilitating the movement of petroleum and other products in the Northeast. A fleet of American vessels are standing by ready to assist as harbors and terminals reopen. We are not aware of any circumstances where American vessels have not been available to meet transportation needs. However, in certain circumstances existing law permits the granting of Jones Act waivers when no American vessels are available. In those circumstances, we will not oppose waivers that are necessary to facilitate delivery of petroleum products into the regions affected by Hurricane Sandy. That has been our position in previous similar national emergencies, and that is our position today.

Thank you. We stand by ready to help in any way.

Sincerely,
The American Maritime Partnership
cc: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood
Energy Secretary Steven Chu
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano

On Friday, the first such waiver was issued by US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano allowing foreign-flagged ships from the Gulf of Mexico into ports in the US northeast in order to deal with the fuel crisis. The waiver will extend through November 13th.

American Maritime Partnership (“AMP”) is the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, a pillar of our nation’s economic, national, and homeland security. More than 40,000 American vessels built in American shipyards, crewed by American mariners, and owned by American companies, ply our waters 24/7, and this commerce sustains nearly 500,000 jobs, $29 billion in labor compensation, and more than $100 billion in annual economic output according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Transportation Institute. So efficient are these vessels that they carry a quarter of the nation’s cargo for only 2 percent of the national freight bill, and being American owned, built and crewed helps make America more secure.