April 21, 2014 – There have been many efforts made to repeal or replace the Jones Act in recent years. Foreign interests in the American shipping industry have been pressuring Congress hard to repeal this nearly 100 year old law, but to date have been unsuccessful. The U.S. Navy as well as the Department of Defense have both stated that any change to the Jones Act would greatly hamper homeland security, put undue strain on the military, and place the country at risk.
A Look at the Jones Act
Nicknamed for the senator that created the law, the official name of this federal law is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This law was enacted to protect the American maritime industry as well as those who work as merchant marines. The law sets specific regulations on this industry including:
• Restricts the transport of goods or passengers between American ports to ships that were built in America and are flagged in America. The company must be wholly owned by an American company.
• Requires that all vessels that operate within American waters have sufficient facilities to maintain these ships at all times.
• Requires that at least 75 percent of the crew of these vessels be American citizens either by birth or naturalization.
• Limits the amount of foreign steel that can be used in American ship repairs to 10 percent.
• Gives protection to Merchant Marines if they are injured due to the negligence of the ship owner. These protections are in lieu of workers compensation benefits and are crucial to the safety of these workers.
There are occasions where a personal injury claim may be denied and in order to receive the compensation that is guaranteed by the Jones act, you may have to retain a lawyer. There is an entire legal offshore field of practice which specializes in defending those victims of injuries at sea who have suffered due to employer negligence.
The American Domestic Shipping Industry
The American domestic shipping industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs over a half million people in this country, Not only does this industry greatly contribute to the economic success of the country, it also greatly contributes to its protection. The Jones Act helps to protect individuals that are employed in the shipping industry. If an individual should suffer an injury due to negligence while working offshore, they are entitled to compensation of wages and the employer must provide medical care and living expenses until the employee is able to go back to work.
In times of war or national emergency, the U.S. Navy heavily relies on the infrastructure of the U.S. maritime industry. This industry ensures sealift capacity to move cargo to naval vessels, has repair stations, intermodal equipment and cargo tracking abilities that are crucial to national defense.
The Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the importance of the Jones Act. They firmly believe that America’s domestic shipping industry is critical to the success of protecting the country because they provide much needed support to the Navy in terms of running supplies and helping with repairs. Additionally, this industry plays a very large part in moving troops and supplies to American bases overseas during times of conflict or natural disaster.
Protecting America’s Homeland via the Waterways
It is as important to protect America’s waterways as it is to protect its land borders. Through the use of the Jones Act, Homeland Security can ensure that American shipping lanes remain safe and that the shipping industry is run by American companies with America’s best interest in mind. This law protects our waterways as much as it protects those who work within this important industry.
Teresa Stewart enjoys researching and presenting information which provides protection for American workers and jobs. For this blog content, she researched maritime law and the Jones Act which offers wages and compensation to injured employees while they recover.