Wednesday, October 10, 2012


10/9/2012 Summary Indictment of Senator John McCain for Abject Maritime Ignorance
1/24/2015 Things have not changed since this was first posted and the start of 2015 finds Senator McCain lobbying for the repeal of the Jones Act again which would signal the final death knell of the American Merchant Marine. John McCain is to the American Merchant Marine what Jane Fonda was to his generation of naval aviators. 8/22/2016 McCain does face Republican opposition in his reelection race, Jones Act mariners can only hope that our Jane Fonda will finally get canned. 12/12/2016 It still hasn't happened, lets hope "draining the swamp" includes this enemy of American working mariners.


Maritime Security

This type of transport moves millions of tons of critical cargo between and among the States of the United States. These vessels by law (The "Jones Act" must be manned by officers licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard who are citizens of the United States. This type of traffic passes under many critical bridges in the United States. Will you really feel safer during your next bridge crossing if you know that the Jones Act has been repealed and the tug and barge approaching your bridge is operated by a Mexican or Liberian crew?  

It is very pain full for us to have to say this but.........


We beseech the people of Arizona to recall him before he does any more damage to our maritime security

 This is very painful for us. We have described our organization as "moderately
conservative", and many of us are registered Republicans.  We particularly can't 
understand how a U.S.Naval Academy graduate could exhibit such a pitiful 
understanding of sea power.Below is the latest news quoted directly from the 
International Association of Masters Mates and Pilots newsletter THE WHEELHOUSE: 


Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has taken yet another swipe at the Jones 
Act, the law that requires that shipments from one U.S. port to another be 
carried on vessels owned by American citizens and operated by American mariners.

The Jones Act is critical to the jobs of many MM&P members. It boosts our 
nation’s economy by keeping thousands of maritime jobs in the United States. It 
contributes to national security by making a fleet available for our military. 
Approximately 50 percent of the trained merchant mariners available for sealift 
in the event of a national emergency are employed in the Jones Act trades.

But McCain has made repealing the Jones Act a central focus of his career. Last 
March, he tried to attach language repealing the Jones Act to an energy bill.  
His most recent attack on the law came in an article entitled “Oil and the Ghost 
of 1920,” that was posted to the Wall Street Journal Blog on Sept. 13. It is 
“ludicrous” to assert that the Jones Act contributes to national security, 
McCain was quoted as saying. “These arguments are laughable,” he added.

The MM&P International President called McCain’s statements “dangerous to the 
wellbeing of our country,” and “an insult to the American mariners who have been 
an indispensable component of our nation’s defense in every conflict since World 
War II.”

“Repealing the Jones Act and allowing unrestricted operation of foreign vessels 
and crews along our coasts would put the United States at great risk,” he added. 
“We urge McCain and others fighting to repeal the Jones Act to focus on sound 
policy rather than sound bites. America must maintain U.S.-flag commercial 
sealift capability and the Jones Act helps guarantee our ability to do so.

Here is something else we can't understand. Previous Senators and Congressmen from Arizona of both parties have been just as troublesome in the past in this regard. Is it some kind of requirement for Representatives and Senators from Arizona to be anti domestic water transport, just because Arizona is one of a very few states that don't directly benefit?  The Jones Act fleet that Senator McCain can't see any security value in includes the towboat and barge industry that moves America's grain to tide water and moves the heating oil and gasoline used in the Midwest up river by tank barge from Texas and Louisiana refineries at a fraction of the cost per mile of tank truck or tank rail car and highly competitive and sometimes cheaper than even pipelines where available. This same towboat and barge industry has been used in the past to move tanks, artillery pieces, and heavy military equipment to New Orleans for trans-shipment to ocean transport. Come on Senator McCain, tell us again how using foreigners for this service improves our economy, or our security. We just don't get it. 

Republicans and Democrats alike have supported the Jones Act for decades because it is the   right thing to do. Why are just a few in both houses of Congress trying to place the         commercial vessels carrying commerce between and among our own states in foreign hands. Yes 
Mexican river pilots would be paid less than American pilots but would they be safer, more 
competent, less of a security risk? What kind of fool's policy is this? 

Naval, Merchant Marine Interest: See also our posts of 9/27/2012 through 9/30/2012 on the same subject

To 126,000 American Merchant Seamen John McCain is the new Jane Fonda


Tug Boats At Deck


Among the many contributions that the Jones Act Fleet makes to the security of the United States and to our Merchant Marine in particular is simply the production of trained merchant seamen. Today many graduates of America's one federal and four state Merchant Marine Academies do not make their careers at sea as traditional Merchant Marine Officers but more generally serve as officers in the Armed Forces, or pursue graduate degrees in related fields like admiralty law and naval architecture. Both the domestic fleet (Jones Act protected) and the international fleet (now shrunken down to about 200 ships) must have competent deck and engineering officers and experienced and skilled able seamen. The Jones Act fleet with its junior colleges, technical schools, union schools, and  apprenticeship programs keep both the international and domestic fleet supplied with skilled labor. When the U.S. International  fleet descends to near oblivion due to foreign competition, professional civilian mariners take refuge in the Jones Act protected domestic fleet. There they find employment and a continuation of professional experience and continuing training experience. The U.S. Merchant Marine labor force is made up of officers and seamen certified or licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and dedicated by statute as a "Naval Auxiliary" The U.S. Merchant Marine has answered the call to transport bullets, beans, equipment, and troops into harm's way in every war including the one that senator McCain is most familiar with personally. In the Vietnam war American Merchant Mariners were killed in action, some gained their initial experience in the Jones Act fleet and some were actually Jones Act tugboat men pressed into Vietnam riverine and coast wise service along with their vessels.

USS Card (CVE-11)


 Their names do not appear on the Vietnam memorial wall but U.S. Merchant Mariners were among the first to die in Vietnam military action. The USNS CARD was a former WWII era air craft carrier that had been decommissioned and entered into Military Sealift Command service as an aircraft transporter. The CARD was manned at the pertinent time by "Civilian Mariners" in the employ of the MSTS, in short the crew consisted of U.S. Merchant Mariners. The original crew of 900 Navy sailors had been replaced by 74 Merchant Mariners. On the morning of May 2, 1964 in the Port of Saigon the CARD was sent to the bottom by Viet Cong sappers and became the first U.S. Merchant Marine casualty of the Vietnam war, three months before the famed USS MADDOX incident which drew front page ink and network media time. Very little of the incident was described in the news media of the day. It is believed that casualties were "light" with some of the crew ashore. We do know that the seriously injured included Merchant mariner Raymond Arbon on the quarter deck at the time of the explosion, and Merchant Mariner (engine department) john McDonald who was at the boiler control panel at the time of the explosion. The Vietnam sea lift effort would eventually engage over 557 U.S .flag merchant vessels many had to be chartered from private sources or brought out of mothballs. Only serious movement of seamen from the Jones Act fleet could account for our ability to man so many transports on short order. Many of the 74 crewmen and officers of the converted USN/MSTS CARD came over directly from domestic tug and barge work and protected coast wise shipping. Some normally Jones act vessels like the tug MICHAEL were pressed directly into military support service. Mate James Almony of the Tug MICHAEL was killed in service to the Navy in Vietnam. His name is no where on the wall of the Vietnam memorial. Neither are the names of Engineering Officer Raymond Barrett of the tanker SS BATON ROUGE, and no one is looking for Ordinary Seaman Ruben Bailon missing off the EXPRESS BALTIMORE since 1965, the U.S Merchant Marine's last MIA from Vietnam. The name of Merchant Mariner Earnie Goo killed on board the SS TRANSCLOBE on the last day of August 1968. No where is there a memorial to the 26 crewmen who died aboard the SS BADGER STATE when the ship foundered on December 26, 1969 after a cargo of bombs broke lose and detonated on board. The records are incomplete but at least 44 American Merchant Mariners died supporting the logistic efforts of the Vietnam war and , many had been trained in the Jones Act fleet, one was actually on a tug, and none have been officially remembered by their nation. 

Now we have to endure a U.S. Senator, a POW in that same war insulting and demeaning the service of our Merchant Marine brothers, endangering our jobs, endangering the future possibility of utilizing the Merchant Marine as a naval auxiliary, and insulting the the memory of our sacred dead.

OK, Senator McCain you would not see the National Mariners Association when it came to you

The Retelling of the Evacuation of Manhattan Island 9/11/2001

Will  they be there for you? Not if John McCain has his way




These men and boats who John McCain has called "laughable" performed the largest mass evacuation of people from harm's way in history, more than at Dunkirk, and in hours, not days. These are the Americans Senator McCain finds laughable, whose more than 126,000 jobs he is willing to give over to foreigners, whose role in national emergencies he does not value at all. This is the American Fleet whose official motto is "Action, Not Words"

A New York City fireman calls for 10 more rescue workers to make their way into the rubble of the World Trade Center, Sept. 15, 2001. Photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Preston Keres, USN
The Morning of 9/11 Manhattan  rediscovered that it was  an island.

We urge you, our readers to watch the videos linked to this page and meet the crewmen and boats of the hastily assembled, Coast Guard led armada that evacuated 500,000 people from Manhattan when the chips were down.

U.S.Department of Transportation: The Merchant Marine Response to 9/11- 5 min.

"BOAT LIFT" narrated by Tom Hanks 11 min.


More on the Jone's Act:   Senator McCain was also in favor of  the bill that we described in this post from this past spring.


The attacks on the Jones Act are sometimes piecemeal as in this example where a U.S. Congressman responding to a foreign lobby was ready to sacrifice American jobs, American Businesses, and American security in a relatively small sector of the Jones Act merchant fleet. Senator McCain participated in this attack. His present attack is more broad based calling the entire Jones Act fleet's security contribution to the United States "laughable" . In these posts and subsequent posts we will make our case for our disagreement and even alarm over his behavior. Please read all that we have to say before dismissing our call for his retirement. The fleet that Senator McCain and his anti Jones Act cohorts think exists is limited to a few American flag conventional tankers and / or cargo ships operating between ports like Baltimore and New Orleans. Their numbers are small and their contribution to commerce minuscule,and indeed it was this sort of shipping that the Jones Act was meant to save in the 1930s. But the American Merchant Marine industry's response to the Jones Act protections was not to build subsidized and protected but uncompetitive ships. Instead they built the modern day towboat and barge industry, the most fuel efficient and economic transcontinental transportation system yet developed by man. It may be slow compared to rail or highway transport but has no equal for non time sensitive cargoes and over sized items. No one foresaw the need for an offshore oil and mineral industry support fleet in the 1930s but the already in place Jones Act protections helped nurture a fleet of thousands of small specialized ships that not only service our offshore oil industry but service contracts all over the world creating and sustaining American jobs and helping in our balance of payments, they represent a rare export of American services. The Jones Act supports a vibrant mini cruise line, day excursion, and ferry boat system., In all there are at least 126,000 on board jobs at stake every time Senator McCain and his cohorts attack the Jones Act. The related Jobs ashore probably exceed the crew jobs.The security contribution and potential of these vessels is enormous as we are trying to demonstrate. The NMA sent a representative to the Senator's office at least four times in the spring and summer of 2012 he was never seen  by the Senator. We urge our readers who are U.S. voters to not do what the senator did and turn a blind eye to the facts.

Another Attack on the "Jones Act", Calling A Stinkweed a Rose

 "Creating and Restoring U.S. Investment and Stimulating Employment Act" of 2012, 112th Congress, House Resolution 2460. Who could argue with what appears to be the objectives of this bill if one were to judge by its title? Titles are deceptive especially coming out of an organization like our Congress which knows no limits on duplicity. What representative would like to face reelection with a record of having voted against a bill by this title? However calling a stinkweed a rose doesn't make the smelly ugly weed a rose. H.R. 2460 by any name is simply another and deadly attack on the "Jones Act" Cabotage law (see our admiralty law section for a description of "Cabotage law") protections that keep the extensive water borne trade between the American States in the capable, safe, and loyal hands of the United States Merchant Marine (see our Merchant Marine Interest section for the legal definition of the "United States Merchant Marine").

 This bill was introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas and constitutes a wholly unacceptable attack on the protection of our coast wise and internal maritime trades. This act would exempt foreign-flag cruise ships from the requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) and allow them to call on consecutive U.S. ports. An example of some of the worst effects of such a bill may be seen by examining the current state of "Fall Foliage Cruises." Presently small cruise ships under 1600 gross tons and operated by American crews under the American Flag pick up passengers in the Fall as far south as Baltimore and proceed north bound stopping at various scenic small ports on our East Coast attempting to terminate in New England or adjacent parts of Canada in time for the peak fall colors. Because of the series of American port calls this trade is restricted to American flag vessels especially later in the season when the trips more often terminate in New England. Under H.R. 2460 any cruise ship clearing customs ultimately for Canada may call at U.S. ports in between embarking passengers for the next segment of the tour.

 These foreign flag ships don't have to meet U.S. Coast Guard safety standards, don't have to be built in the United States, are not manned by U.S. citizens. It is doubtful that what is left of our shrunken overnight passenger trade can be sustained in the face of such competition.

 Overnight cruise ships are sometimes built with federal subsidizes because of their potential naval utility as hospital ships and barracks boats. Remember that during Hurricane Katrina the U.S. had to charter idle foreign cruise ships to house emergency and recovery workers in New Orleans. Our own overnight passenger trade has shrunk due to such foreign competition.  However, a useful remnant still exists in the under 1600 gross registered tons sized vessels running such programs as fall Foliage tours on the East Coast, and occasional attempts to run full size ships in inter-island tours of the Hawaiian Islands. Only the smaller vessels compete in the West Coast to Alaska inside passage tours. Because of the ability of foreign flag cruise ships to clear their first U.S. port for Canada before calling at an Alaskan port, foreign operators dominate on our own portion of the Inside Passage. We have a very few larger craft designed exclusively for the Rivers Trade operating on our interior waters. This entire inventory of passenger vessels is legally available to the government for emergencies where floating assets with beds and bathrooms are needed. This need may not be in some overseas theater of war as was illustrated by Hurricane Katrina. Yet in Katrina our government rightly decided not to call on our shrunken overnight passenger operators to provide for the bunk needs in Katrina ravaged New Orleans. This may have been because the industry is so weak and September is an important time in this largely seasonal industry. Given those facts providing government service at New Orleans, while a clear demonstration of the security utility of these sometimes Maritime Administration subsidized vessels, may have outright killed the domestic industry.

 During the second Iraq war we also saw our government chartering foreign flag cruise ships as floating rest and recreation centers for our troops who were stuck indefinitely in a theater of operations surrounded by nations where some American ideas of good clean fun, or simply religious practice, or dietary preferences are punishable by death, imprisonment or dismemberment. At the time of this event our only active American full size cruise ships were struggling to survive in the Hawaiian inter-island trade. So again we resorted to chartering foreign flag vessels.  There is a defense utility to these types of ships and we have a legal right to use those of our "naval auxiliary" the "U.S. Merchant Marine." But we periodically cut off or reduce construction subsidies for American ships. The looser safety rules and low labor costs of foreign ships have run our trade from the high seas. Our remaining capacity for back up hospital ships, floating troop rests, and barracks barges is a very few mostly small ships. However as long as there is an American flag overnight cruise industry we do have some floating bunks we absolutely can press into service.

Does it make sense to endanger this remnant industry, unemploy these American seamen, and commit to depending on foreign sources for both our domestic (think Katrina) and foreign floating berth needs. Clearly this law maker Rep. Blake Farenhold (R-Texashas lost sight of the purpose of a "naval auxiliary" and the defense security, disaster recovery utility of typical "naval auxiliary vessels."  Think about it. Even at its most subsidized level, and few are subsidized today, we get on call naval availability on these infrequently used but occasionally critical vessels for a tiny fraction of their costs. Our defense budget eliminates entirely the crewing costs and upkeep and maintenance costs until actually needed. H.R. 2460 not only destroys American jobs despite its deceptive title but destroys an important naval auxiliary feature of our Merchant Marine which has retreated to the heart of our Merchant Marine, the protected domestic trades. In these supposedly protected domestic trades resides our only hope of resurrection of true transocean sea lift capacity when naval necessity calls for it. We have no assurance that the foreign flagged merchant marines of the world will go into harm's way to carry bullets and beans to our troops when the shooting starts. The U.S. Merchant Marine has never failed us. American merchant mariners suffered one of the heaviest casualty rates in World War II, especially in the early days of the Allied sea lift to England which coincided with the German U-boats "Happy Time." American Merchant mariners and merchant ships penetrated miles up the Vietnamese rivers carrying beans and bullets to our soldiers throughout the Vietnam war. Irresponsible and ill informed acts like H.R. 2460 by Congressmen like Rep. Farenhold not only kill American jobs and ships, but kill or greatly reduce already reduced naval auxiliary capacities and capabilities.

Voters of Texas stop the madness! Call, E-mail, and write, visit if you can, this misinformed representative. Voters everywhere instruct your representatives to stop this bill. This isn't a party matter, it shouldn't be a political matter. Protecting our cabotage trade should be a fixed feature of our defense and homeland security policy supported by both parties and a constant between White House occupants. Read the American Admiralty Books recommended history "The Way of the Ship" (see our "merchant marine Interests section) for a better understanding of the security importance and economic importance of our supposedly protected but constantly threatened domestic water borne trades. Every voter should know something about the defense and security utility of America's domestic trades U.S. Merchant Marine, as well as the naval utility of our seriously depressed traditional merchant deep sea transports. The provided hyperlink will bring you to a copy of the bill.


 More on why we called for the resignation of Senator John McCain. His understanding of the Jones Act Fleets is based on 1930s facts. This is dangerous.

File:Tug & barges on Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.png
Tug and two tank barges entering locks separating two deep inland waterways

Two days ago, with great reluctance we urged Senator John McCain to retire from the U.S.Senate. Since we doubt that he will do, that we also asked the people of Arizona to recall him as a hazard to our maritime security and our economic health. His offense(s)? Senator McCain has repeatedly attacked the "Jones Act".  The day before we called for his removal from office he called the national security contribution of the Jones Act fleet as "laughable". Like many of the critics of the Jones Act Senator McCain's image of the fleet that evolved out this set of legislation is stuck somewhere in the 1930s. This reprint of an earlier report will give you a good over view of the modern contributions to our economy by the various industries that are protected by and evolved under the influence of the Jones Act". We are well aware that Senator McCain served his country well in uniform and endured much as a POW and for that we thank him. We value that he is an owner of an honorable military discharge and that experience is rarer than hens teeth in this Congress and something to be valued. But we are also students of history. We know what kind of condition China was in on the eve of the Boxer Rebellion . The Chinese of the time had ignored their cabotage (coast wise and inland maritime trades) and the result was that at first foreign merchant vessels filled the need. They were followed by foreign naval forces and overt foreign rule. If we were to actually follow Senator McCain's lead on the only protection our own cabotage has , the various laws that are referred to as "the Jones Act" we would experience exactly what China suffered through on the eve of the Boxer Rebellion. Over time we will try to provide you with enough information to under stand our outright alarm over the attitude of senator McCain.  The report below will give you a sound picture of some of the contributions of some of the segments of the Jones Act Fleets.

Report No. 1 (completed 3/09/2012)

The "Jones Act" is a term of legal art that is a generic expression for an entire series of statutes that regulate the maritime trade between the states of the United States and certain marine transportation activities on waters under U.S. jurisdiction. "Jones" simply perpetrates the name of the sponsor of section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261) which dealt directly with "cabotage" trade between and among U.S. Ports (Cabotage: Fr. origin "between the Capes" or "Coastwise). Generally the effect of the various combinations of statutes is that cargo and passengers carried between the states, within a state, or to and from our offshore Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC) which is generally coincidental with our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), are to be carried on vessels built in America and crewed by American citizens or permanent residents. The real purpose of Cabotage law is national security. Any nation that allows foreign shipping to carry its cabotage trade is doomed to serious loss of sovereignty. Perhaps the worse case example is China on the eve of the Boxer Rebellion.

We (American Admiralty Books) make no bones about being in favor of serious cabotage protection. We understand what the critics of the Act say about the increased costs of domestic waterborne transportation when you ship American. But those who are critical do not count the costs of increased security requirements were we to allow wide spread use of foreign flag vessels and crews in our domestic trades. If you would like to see and feel the results of what a lack of cabotage enforcement can do to a nation we won't ask you to read some lengthy and dry economic tome. Just rent the video of the old Steve McQueen movie The Sand Pebbles. Take a good look at the misery of the Chinese people so ably depicted there and how the American and British sailors in their domestic ports, some of which were as much as 900 miles inland on their river systems acted as lords of the manor. 

The Chinese started by letting foreign flag merchant ships mostly British and American carry their domestic trade between their own ports. A few instances of river piracy and other crimes against shipping later and these same nations claimed and exercised the right to "protect their merchant marines" and so sent in their navy gun boats. Soon China was controlled like a virtual vassal by foreign shipping interests.

 In the united States we need approximately 77 strategic materials to support our economy. Of these 66 have to be imported by sea. When international shipping became too competitive with U.S. flag international shipping due to low labor coast after World War II we basically gave up after a brief period when we had the wisdom to subsidize our international carriers, our traditional, "merchant marine." Then we threw in the towel and let our post WW II fleet of nearly 5, 000 traditional merchant ships shrink down to about 200 today. Then came the events of 9/11 and we are spending far more on port security and maritime intelligence to police this foreign armada that carries goods to and from America. But thanks to "Jones Act" prohibitions the coal and grain of the Midwest still travels down the Mississippi on American barges pushed by American towboats, under the skillful hands of American pilots. Heating oil and gasoline refined in New Orleans and Baton Rouge moves up the Mississippi to the Midwestern distribution points by American tow boat and tank barge combinations. Refined oil products still move by sea between Houston and New Orleans to Baltimore by American flag coastwise tankers and tank barges. Our offshore oil industry is mostly still serviced by American supply vessels though this is under daily attack and inroads against the Jones Act protections are being made.

 We still operate our own ferries and tugs. The fact is that America has always, since colonial times carried more commerce between the states by water than it ships and receives internationally by water.  Our "Blue Water" or internationally trading merchant ship fleet has always waxed and waned in size based on international competition but when push came to shove and we had to sea lift entire armies into hostile zones only American merchant seamen on American ships our "Merchant Marine," by law a naval auxiliary, answered the call for war zone transport. How did we go from a tiny pre war international merchant marine to the massive sealift fleets of the World Wars and the rather expanded fleets of Korea and Vietnam almost over night given the the greatly reduced ship building capacity of the United States in those time frames and the time it takes to train skilled seamen at all levels? 

The answer is that we have always had plenty of reserve ship building and manning capacity in our Jones Act fleets and yards. Our "cabotage" trades are not the after thought and rear guard of the American Merchant Marine that most politicians who don't know port from starboard or bow from stern think. The Jones Act fleets and yards are the deep protected and vital HEART OF THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE it has been from that heart, that core capacity that our Merchant Marine has always risen up to the combat support challenge. It is because of the conduct of our extensive cabotage trades by American flag vessels manned by American Merchant Mariners that our interior waters beyond the international docks require relatively little security attention.

Unfortunately, as previously reported here in these pages the Jones Act Fleets and yards are under constant attack and in danger of dying a death of a thousand shallow cuts. There are congressmen who daily try to protect our cabotage legal system, and Congressmen hell bent on destroying it, some in a mistaken devotion to "fair trade and openness, and lower costs of shipping" who simply don't see or understand the national security implications. Other Congressmen are attacking the Jones Act protections in direct response to the lobby efforts of well heeled foreign interests.

 Whether from treason or tragic ignorance the protections are eroding. One of the chief sources of erosion is an institutional attitude in the Coast Guard, Customs and Border protection service, and even the Department of Homeland Security and its Inspector General's office that Jones Act enforcement is a "labor issue." Yes, American merchant mariner and ship building jobs are protected by the Jones act, indeed in addition to national security, or more correctly because of it, that protection is one of the stated purposes of the Act. How and why the agencies and department charged with enforcement of these laws came to engage in selective enforcement and ease of exception making, so pleasing to foreign ship owners and American owners of foreign registered shipping, is lost to us. We only know that the pleadings of such maritime labor organizations as the National Mariner's Association (NMA) for real Jones Act enforcement in particular instances have literally been turned away at the agency and department level with the retort "that's a labor issue we can't get involved".

 Well the protection of American seamen's jobs and American yards and vessels were in part the actual object of the law. Who is an agency official to deny protection to the protected class in a statute? Treason or tragically flawed reasoning the results have been the same slowly eroding cabotage protections. It the worst happens and the proponents of "free trade" get their way, a United States that resembles pre- Boxer rebellion China is the inevitable result. Thus we stand with the American seaman on this issue and don't apologize for it.

 Since we view the Jones Act fleets and yards as vital to national security and economic prosperity we have always tracked the health of these industries through monthly review of the relevant trade journals. Today we launch our first report on the economic health of the Jones Act fleets and yards. We hope to make this a regular monthly feature but if things are very slow changing between monthly reviews we may drop back to quarterly periodically. We sincerely urge all of our readers even if you are a recreational boater or diver to follow this news which is never reported in the national general media. If you visit our "Merchant Marine Interest section you will notice that our first, and first "Recommended" selection is The Way of the Ship, a historical perspective on our domestic fleets as the heart of our Merchant Marine and commercial sea power potential. We won't be pulling that title from its pole position for years. Its truth endures.

The good news is that after a slump that reflected the slump in the general economy the Jones Act fleets and yards seem to be emerging into something of a visible growth pattern We are not seeing a rapid return to the glory days of the 1970s but we are seeing a decided up tick from the depressed days of the last several years. WORKBOAT MAGAZINE reported in its March issue Work Boat Construction Survey that 564 commercial work vessels are under construction in our "second tier yards" an increase of 30 hulls from the same time last year. Apparently order books and back logs are growing and editor David Krapf reports that the second tier yard personnel that he visited appeared "bullish on the shipyard business."

 The offshore supply vessel (OSV) industry contracts on "day rates" the cost per day to charter (contract) an OSV for service in logistic support of an offshore rig. OSV day rates were down in January, the last month for which there is strong data but utilization rates (the percentage of the OSV fleet under active paying charter) appear to be holding near steady in some sectors or rising by about 1% in others. The prognosis is that rising, even slowly rising utility rates lead to improved day rates and that leads to improved profitability for the vessel owners and operators. For large supply vessel s, those over 200 feet in length, the day rate has already risen while the day rate for smaller supply vessels is down slightly with a utilization rate of only 69% of the fleet at last report. Gulf Coastal drilling activity is on the rise so the outlook of the domestic OSV industry is guardedly optimistic.

 There are reports of new building and vessel commissioning in the day excursion vessel passenger trade. One new overnight vessel for river service has been launched, the first good news since security concerns in the wake of 9/11 idled the Delta Queen fleet of overnight passenger vessels.  Inland and coastal day passenger operating firms are predicting a good year as we approach their peak season. WORKBOAT MAGAZINE's"WorkBoat Composite Index"  which tracks a variety of publicly traded stocks of vessel operating, ship building, and service businesses opened 2012 with a big gain of 182 points after losing 240 points in 2011 or 16%. The WorkBoat Composite index shows a strong start for 2012 though it comes after a losing year. The outlook is best described as guardedly optimistic for the coming year. The U.S. towboat and barge industry has lost ground in the coal carriage trade as U.S. exports have dropped and domestic demand slackened in response to environmental laws. 

Heating oil carriage this winter was off due to mild weather, but grain carriage is expected to take up considerable slack and the inland towing industry appears to  have started the first quarter of fiscal 2012 as the rest of the Jones Act fleet and yards in a guardedly optimistic cultural mindset. Check with us next months to see how that mind set holds up at the start of the second quarter.

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