Adm. Zukunft: “If you take the mariners away, what is the world going to look like 10 years from now? If we don’t have a US fleet or US shipyard to constitute that fleet, how do we prevail?”
The House subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing Monday on “President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request For Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Programs” during which Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft and U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen stressed the critical need for the Jones Act to protect our economic and national security.
In his remarks, Admiral Zukunft reinforced the critical need for the Jones Act to secure a robust shipyard industrial base and skilled mariners necessary to uphold our nation’s maritime capability.
“You take Jones Act away the first thing to go is these shipyards and then the mariners. If you take the mariners away, what is the world going to look like 10 years from now? If we don’t have a US fleet or US shipyard to constitute that fleet how do we prevail? I am concerned that any repeal of the Jones Act would cut at the heart of that industrial base,” said Admiral Zukunft. “We inspect foreign ships that we trade with and on any given day we detain two or three ships because they are not in compliance even though the flag state claims they are in compliance. The US does have a higher standard for safety and security and no one does it better than the United States.”
Admiral Zukunft further added: “My biggest focus is what does it due to our resiliency as a maritime nation -- quite honestly it will bankrupt our maritime resiliency. When we look at the challenges that the Maritime Administrator and TRANSCOM are facing in the event of a contingency and we don’t have a lift within the US fleet to respond to a contingency at a point in time that we are seeing the reemergence of pure competitors -- it is in our nation’s best interest to protect our maritime resiliency and the Jones Act does provide that wherewithal.”
Echoing Admiral Zukunft’s strong remarks about the critical need for the Jones Act, MARAD Administrator Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen stressed that without the build requirement of the Jones Act our nation’s shipbuilding industrial base would gravely diminish.
“If the build requirement were changed, there are about 40 different yards around the county that are building both federal and commercial vessels (32 large vessels currently under construction). Without the Jones Act, those builds don’t occur, which means the federal government now has to assume all of the costs of the overhead for that industrial base, which raises the cost for those vessels,” said Admin. Jaenichen. “Without the commercial shipbuilding and that industrial base, it will have an effect on the taxpayer in terms of what we have to pay for the cost of acquiring those vessels for NOAA, Navy, Coast Guard, or USACE.”
For nearly a century, the Jones Act has had increasing bipartisan support not only from the U.S. Congress but also every modern day president. Congress enacted its strongest endorsement of the Jones Act in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014.