American Maritime Partnership (AMP) issued a statement opposing Senator John McCain’s recent measure to eliminate the U.S. shipbuilding industry. AMP said U.S. shipbuilding is critical to supporting America’s military power and defense needs employs hundreds of thousands of Americans and pumps tens of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.
“The McCain amendment would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, outsource our U.S. Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country," said AMP Chairman Tom Allegretti. "The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, so as to protect and defend the American homeland. It is hard to believe that the Congress would endorse a change to the law that would outsource U.S. jobs and reduce national security by effectively creating dependence on foreign countries to build our ships.”
AMP said a primary purpose of the Jones Act is to promote national and homeland security, stating that the Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America’s] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Similarly, just a month ago, Congress enacted legislation reaffirming the Jones Act and calling a strong commercial shipbuilding industry “particularly important as Federal budget cuts may reduce the number of new constructed military vessels.” The independent Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said America’s military power is dependent on a strong “shipyard industrial base to support national defense needs.”
According to AMP, the McCain amendment would undermine and devalue tens of billions of dollars of investments in existing U.S. constructed vessels throughout the American domestic maritime industry. The Jones Act is the foundation of the American domestic maritime infrastructure—vessels, mariners, and shipyards—that is critical to military sealift. The same is true of homeland security, where American workers on American vessels work closely with local, state and federal agencies to perform a critical domestic protection function, AMP added.
The American domestic maritime industry is investing record amounts in new ship construction in virtually every trade, a “tremendous renaissance,” according to Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration. American shipyards are building record numbers of modern, state-of-the-art vessels in all sectors with more on order. The amendment is particularly troubling because shipyards are among the largest employers in many states, providing stable manufacturing jobs that pay far above the national average. A recent study by the U.S. Maritime Administration cited the “economic importance” of the American shipbuilding and repair industry, with annual employment of more than 400,000, annual labor income of about $24 billion, and annual gross domestic product of $36 billion.