The Jones Act requires vessels in domestic waterborne trade to be owned by U.S. citizens, built in the United States and crewed by U.S. mariners. These provisions keep American shipping companies, shipyards, mariners, maritime academies and thousands of people working. It is a critical component to the long-term sustainability of the U.S. fleet and the health of the U.S. shipbuilding industry. The Jones Act aids in controlling shipbuilding
costs for the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard by ensuring the health of the industrial base. The Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 demonstrates the national security importance of the Jones Act, stating that “coastwise trades laws [such as the Jones Act] promote a strong domestic trade maritime industry, which supports the national security and economic vitality of the United States.”
The loss of the American-built provisions in the Jones Act would have devastating ripple effects on all the sea services. Its immediate impact would be a reduction in the number of ships built in U.S. shipyards, which would result in a loss of jobs, a loss of industrial knowledge and skills, and a loss in America’s edge in shipbuilding quality and technology. This would mean all ships used by our U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, which of course will be built in the United States, would have a higher cost per ship due to increased overhead costs, and would have a less reliable industrial base. A strong industrial base is necessary for innovation and quality. This amendment would increase costs for the sea services during a time of sequestration and tightening budgets, when each dollar our sea services spend must go farther. The impacts would be extremely detrimental to the sea services.
The Navy League of the United States is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to informing the American people and the U.S. government that America is a maritime nation, and that its national defense and economic well-being are dependent upon strong sea services — U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. It offers the Special Topic Breakfast series to provide the latest information on programs and issues that matter to the defense community.