The domestic maritime industry is vital to U.S. economic security, homeland security and national security. The Jones Act (Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920) ensures that this essential industry remains under American control by requiring that vessels moving cargo between U.S. locations be owned by American citizens, crewed by American mariners and built in American shipyards.
The U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry comprises the largest segment of America’s Jones Act fleet of 40,000 vessels. AWO strongly supports the Jones Act as a commercial and public policy success and as the statutory foundation of the American maritime industry. The nation’s domestic maritime industry supports 650,000 American jobs and provides $154 billion in economic output.
Globally, 91 countries accounting for 80% of the world’s coastlines have cabotage laws like the Jones Act governing what vessels can move cargo by water. Against that backdrop of cabotage laws and countries that heavily subsidize state-owned shipping companies and shipyards, the Jones Act provides the stability for domestic maritime companies to make long-term, multibillion dollar investments in vessels, shoreside facilities and technology to meet the needs of their customers in every sector of the U.S. economy.
Underpinned by the Jones Act, the domestic maritime industry also supports U.S. national and homeland security. The Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy strongly support the domestic maritime industry – and the Jones Act as its statutory foundation – because strong vessel operating companies, a skilled, available supply of mariners and a robust shipyard industrial base are critical force multipliers that the U.S. government must have, but could not sustain, without the commercial domestic maritime industry.
With 95,000 miles of shoreline and 25,000 miles of navigable waterways, the Jones Act makes America’s domestic vessel fleet and the mariners who crew those vessels indispensable to homeland security. Jones Act mariners serve as the U.S. Coast Guard’s eyes and ears on the waterways and consistently come to the aid of their fellow Americans in times of emergency.