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House hearing focuses on Jones Act, security, workforce needs

From WorkBoat.com:

The U.S.-flag merchant fleet needs support in recruiting and training a new generation of mariners, and stronger government support for the Jones Act and cargo preferences to maintain its foreign trade capability, industry advocates told Congress Wednesday.

The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation kicked off its 2018 proceedings with a big-picture look at the state of the U.S. industry, with testimony from the bluewater sector, offshore industries and shipbuilders.

At the hearing, industry experts struck some upbeat notes, remarking on its capable response to hurricane emergencies in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, and levels of activity in U.S. shipbuilding.

But big concerns are out there: the prolonged downturn in the offshore industry, a shrinking pool of highly experienced U.S. mariners, and the shrinkage of the U.S.-flag foreign trade fleet. There are some 41,000 U.S.-flag vessels in trade, but the bluewater share has fallen from 106 ships in 2011 to 79 vessels today.

That in turn “has resulted in a drastic reduction in the pool of available mariners needed to meet DoD (Department of Defense) requirements” said Bill Van Loo, secretary treasurer of the Maritime Engineers’ Beneficial Association, in testimony to the subcommittee.



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