New Report: Jones Act Vital to National Security

press release
Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A recently released report from the Lexington Institute, The Contribution Of The Jones Act To U.S. Security, says the longstanding maritime law is vital to U.S. economic, homeland, and national security – serving the nation by maintaining a skilled merchant marine, shipbuilding capacity and sea lift capability.


“The greatest danger to the role and function of the United States as a seafaring nation is the decline of its maritime industry and merchant marine,” the report says. “Commercial shipyards have made significant investments to modernize, and turn out high-quality vessels with advanced engineering. Moreover, tens of thousands of merchant mariners are at work every day as a consequence of the Jones Act. As a result, the nation retains the means to build and repair Navy vessels, and provide critical sea lift for the military.”

The Jones Act is a longstanding U.S. maritime law that mandates the use of vessels that are American-crewed, -built, and -owned to move cargo between two U.S. ports.  Similar laws and statutes apply the same ground rules to the movement of passengers, towing, dredging, and marine salvage. The law boosts security by adding a sealift capacity as well as an expanded pool of trained and experienced mariners to crew U.S. government-owned sealift assets. 


The report says that the significance of the Jones Act is apparent during times of war, citing the U.S. Navy’s endorsement of the law.  “The official view of the U.S. Navy is that the Jones Act continues to make a vital contribution to U.S. national security. ‘For decades, U.S. merchant mariners have provided essential support for the U.S. Navy during times of war and national crisis. Repealing the Jones Act would remove that support at a time when we are fighting two wars and facing a continuing threat from international terrorism.’”


In addition, the report says U.S.-flagged merchant marine vessels most recently carried cargoes bound for Iraq and Afghanistan and delivered relief supplies to victims of natural disasters around the world. The report is an independent study from the Lexington Institute.  The Lexington Institute is a non-profit public policy think tank headquartered in Arlington, Va., that focuses on national security and other issues.  It was founded in 1998. To view the full report, visit:

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