Upgrading, renewing, and expanding the Jones Act fleet is the next huge ship building opportunity in the world today. It has been more than three decades since America held the number one position in worldwide tonnage production. In the intervening 30+ years, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, and now China have ascended to the top of the worldwide shipbuilding industry building large fleets of new marine assets for the global economy. Today foreign yards are sold out thru 2027.
NOW IS THE TIME for United States shipyards to shift into high gear and repeat our unmatched WWII-producing record of more than 5,000 marine assets in just over three years. Today, we estimate that our nation will require over 10,000 new marine assets to fulfill its needs in the next ten years, including hundreds of multipurpose container and offshore wind feeders, cable layers, new barges, thousands of fishing vessels, a fleet of new high powered tugs to handle the new fleet of VLCVs (Very Large Container Vessels) and the list goes on and on.
A few of the benefits of NEW modern marine assets:
The ability to standardize vessels built in series—lowering construction costs
New marine assets cost less to operate. New technology is simply more efficient
Standardized vessels can be and are operated by interchangeable crews, just like airplanes
New vessels are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than old technologies
New marine assets have lower repair and maintenance costs as standard parts are available
New vessels will meet recent environmental standards
Modern vessels are insurable
New Jones Act assets are subject to ten-year depreciation schedules and are eligible for tax credits
And the list goes on and on and on…
Meeting our nation’s present and future commercial maritime needs is a Herculean task. We must succeed as renewing and expanding our Jones Act fleets are essential for our nation’s economic future.
History has taught us that with every big idea, there are tremendous opportunities and financial rewards for those willing to take the risk and challenge the status quo.
Check out the video produced by our shipbuilding partner, Green Shipping Line. It is time to stop the happy talk, we need marine assets.
There is no doubt that America must add offshore wind to its energy infrastructure tool kit. The ability of the United States to successfully compete in the global economy requires that we access all reliable sources of energy, including oil, gas, coal, solar, and nuclear, to power our cities, homes, and domestic businesses.
Billions of dollars have been spent securing offshore wind farm leases, and millions more spent or committed to retrofitting our ports, supporting new manufacturing facilities, workforce training, and countless studies. Accordingly, elected officials and states have passed legislation to prop up what we in the Metal Trades believe to be an essential industry.
And yet, despite all these efforts and examples of public support, press announcements, seminars, and spending, one stark fact is clear:
To date, these efforts have only installed seven towers in the waters off our coast: five 3-megawatt towers off of Block Island and two 6-megawatt towers off of Virginia. The Block Island towers were staged from England, and the Virginia Towers were staged from Halifax, Canada.
Our ports, save Norfolk, have not changed in size or location. Our maritime laws haven’t changed either. We drill offshore oil wells, install production platforms, and lay down the underwater grid to bring the oil and gas onshore. These are highly complicated endeavors at which America excels.
Why aren’t we moving ahead faster in installing offshore wind towers?
Why haven’t foreign leaseholders ordered the critical US-built marine assets needed to accomplish the task?
And more importantly, why aren’t our utility companies, government agencies, and regulators holding foreign leaseholders accountable for ordering and building the critical US-built marine assets needed to accomplish the task?
Undoubtedly, our nation will have to learn this complicated business from our European partners. It’s quite obvious, that for the foreseeable future, the US will have to source the majority of the offshore wind tower components from foreign manufacturers. And even supplement the labor force while training a highly skilled workforce of Americans to produce the necessary components and install them in the ocean.
YET one simple fact remains, until the government, business, and labor put their heads together to build the necessary domestically produced marine assets, the dream of a viable offshore wind industry will not become a reality.
The maritime affiliates that comprise the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, stand ready and able to supply and train the workforce needed to build the Jones Act marine assets required to deliver the most critical pieces of the puzzle.
America’s Jones Act Fleet. Built, Operated, and Owned By American Workers and Industry!
After World War II, the United States was the world’s leading shipbuilder. But in 1981, President Reagan eliminated its long-standing subsidy program which left American shipyards to compete with heavily subsidized foreign rivals like China. Today, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world for commercial shipbuilding, accounting for just 0.35 percent of global new construction. And we have become heavily dependent on China and East Asia for products and resources, most of which are imported by sea.
AMERICA NEEDS A COMMERCIAL SHIPS ACT. Each day, our nation falls further behind in our ability to compete in the global marketplace. To that end, we must build Jones Act ships if we are to meet the global challenges of energy independence, food insecurity, the supply chain crisis, inflation, and our national security. We cannot afford to continue to operate with a fleet of less than 200 U.S.-flagged, Jones Act commercial vessels, when China has become a shipping superpower with more than 5,000.
We need legislation that would set a national maritime strategy. Federal investment in rebuilding our shipbuilding industrial base and innovation to create advanced manufacturing facilities. Those investments would support shipbuilders, shipyard workers, and shipping companies and enable America to compete in a global market.
The affiliated unions that comprise the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department believe in American exceptionalism. We know that as a nation we can solve any problem with creativity and hard work. But for more than 40-years, our government has kicked the can down the road rather than invest in a real maritime strategy.