Wednesday, April 4, 2018

AMERICA'S MARINE HIGHWAY

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AMH Routes Map
Image courtesy U.S. Maritime Administration


 America's Marine Highway System is promoted by the U.S. Maritime Administration. It exists in fact and in law though most Americans from the "dry side of the levee" are pretty oblivious to it. The program has roots deep in our history but became a matter of law in 2007 with the passage of The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This act was intended to start the process of reducing overland road congestion by big trucks through the designation of marine highway routes for certain cargoes suitable for marine, transport , especially by  ferry or towboat and barge. In 2012 another law was passed expanding the scope of the program. Section 405 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 expanded the scope of the program beyond reducing land side congestion to include  efforts to generate public benefits by increasing the efficiency of domestic freight or passenger transportation via the Marine Highway Routes between U.S. Ports. Finally, The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 added to the legal definition of "short Sea Shipping cargoes" those shipped in discrete units or packages aboard commuter ferries. You may find additional technical, historical, legal, and commercial information at the MARAD site

 The Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal waterways were built between the World Wars to provide shallow draft, calm water , and submarine attack free water routes for vital military cargoes such as aviation fuels. Today the Gulf Intracoastal waterway is still the primary mover of jet fuel from Houston refineries to the air bases of the Florida Panhandle. But these canal systems carry much more than critical military cargoes. Indeed before America started building canals the coastal routes and navigable rivers were main arteries of our commerce. This didn't end after the proliferation of rail roads and highways. Indeed today our domestic Merchant Marine ( especially the towboat and barge industry)  sometimes referred to as the "Jones Act fleets" carry more tonnage of commerce between and among our states than all of the world's deep draft merchant marines carry to the United States from over seas. Considering that of 77 strategic materials that we have to have in bulk to sustain our economy that 66 must come to us by sea, you can imagine how important our larger domestic water borne commerce is. 

Image result for intracoastal waterway usa map
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dredge Maintaining Channel Depth On A Stretch Of The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway

 
 We find the recent re-emphasis on our domestic marine commerce via the establishment of the American "Marine Highway System" interesting and long over due. Despite the many benefits of our "Cabotage Navigation"  leaders such as Senator John McCain from  states such as Arizona which don't have any inland navigation seem to be focused on the elimination of all protection of this commerce. Fortunately. of the 50 states more than 33 benefit directly from Cabotage Navigation , Nothing about Cabotage Navigation  is really new historically. Inland and near coastal navigation between and among our states has been a principal , if not the principal, means of commerce since colonial times. For several years now we have been suggesting to our readers to read and take to heart the information in THE WAY OF THE SHIP : AMERICA'S MARITIME HISTORY REENVISIONED , 1600-2000 by Alex Roland. The highlighted title is a link to Amazon but we must print this disclaimer. We are no longer an Amazon Portal since Louisiana elected a Democrat for Governor so if you are a resident of Louisiana and you purchase via this link you must report your purchase on your state income tax return along with every other internet purchase and compute and pay the sales tax. 

SBN-13: 978-0470136003
ISBN-10: 0470136006

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