Marine News' Top 10 Stories of 2017
Plucked from the headlines, the top stories of 2017 were compelling, and each provided impact to the domestic waterfront and in particular – the workboat sector. Follow along as Marine News recaps the highlights, drama and significant events that shaped the past 12 months. When Elaine Chao was sworn in to be the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, the Washington veteran brought a welcome burst of competence to the position. Her wide-ranging experience across the maritime sector and prior service at the U.S.
Top Regulatory Concerns on the US Commercial Waterfront
A top 10 list of regulatory concerns is by no means all-inclusive, but it does bring to light the full weight of the regulatory hammer on the collective domestic commercial waterfront. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us...” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859.
McCain Pushes Jones Act Exemption for Puerto Rico Again
U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Mike Lee (R-UT) this week introduced legislation that would permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, or the Jones Act, to aid recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria and encourage long-term economic growth. The Trump administration's 10-day Jones Act waiver for Puerto Rico, despite the presence of more than enough U.S. flag tonnage to handle any and all relief sealift needs, gave McCain the opening he needed to reintroduce legislation that he has, on many prior occasions, brought to the Senate.
US Denies Request for Puerto Rico Shipping Waiver
The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request to waive shipping restrictions to help get fuel and supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying it would do nothing to address the island's main impediment to shipping, damaged ports. The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to U.S. flagged vessels. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free, or more readily available foreign flagged ships.
Are US Navy Accidents Linked to Budget Caps?
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday that he was working to see if there was a link between a spate of recent military accidents and budget caps, but said he could not draw a direct line at this time. Since June, more than 70 U.S. service members have either been killed or injured in training or non-combat accidents, ranging from two naval collisions in Asia to a Marine Corps transport plane crash in rural Mississippi. “I am not willing to say right now that there is a direct line between sequestration and what has happened. I am willing to say ...
Ten Sailors Missing after US Warship, Tanker Collide
Ten U.S. sailors were missing after a collision between a destroyer and a tanker east of Singapore on Monday, the second involving a U.S. warship and a merchant ship in Asia in about two months, triggering a fleet-wide probe of operations and training. The guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain and the tanker Alnic MC collided while the warship was heading to Singapore for a routine port call. The collision tore a hole in the warship's waterline, flooding compartments that included a crew sleeping area, the U.S. Navy said in a statement. "Initial reports indicate John S.
China Behaving like "Bully" in South China Sea - McCain
China is behaving like a "bully" with its militarisation of islands in the South China Sea, Republican U.S. Senator John McCain said on Tuesday, activity Washington must confront with its allies to find a peaceful solution. In a speech in Sydney, McCain said China was asserting itself globally, best illustrated by militarising artificial islands in the South China Sea, a claim repeatedly rejected by Beijing. "I think it is very clear that the Chinese by filling in these islands are militarising them and that is in violation of international law," the Arizona senator said.
Trump's Navy: A Look at the Future US Navy
It’s still too early to know for certain what the new administration will do about building up the U.S. Navy, as the numbers are a moving target. But with President Trump’s recent pledge to add $54 billion to defense spending, it’s a safe bet to make that the fleet will grow. So let’s start with the numbers. There are different ways to count the fleet size, including whether or not you count auxiliaries, but let’s use this number as the baseline: There are 274 ships in the U.S. Navy now.
Skilled Workers Needed to Build Trump's Navy Vision
U.S. President Donald Trump says he wants to build dozens of new warships in one of the biggest peace-time expansions of the U.S. Navy. But interviews with ship-builders, unions and a review of public and internal documents show major obstacles to that plan. The initiative could cost nearly $700 billion in government funding, take 30 years to complete and require hiring tens of thousands of skilled shipyard workers - many of whom don't exist yet because they still need to be hired and trained, according to the interviews and the documents reviewed. Trump has vowed a huge build-up of the U.S.
China's Manmade Islands Project 'Substantial Offensive Power'
China will be able to project "substantial offensive military power" from artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea's disputed Spratly Islands within months, the director of U.S. national intelligence said. In a Feb. 23 letter to John McCain, chair of the U.S. "Based on the pace and scope of construction at these outposts, China will be able to deploy a range of offensive and defensive military capabilities and support increased PLAN and CCG presence beginning in 2016," Clapper said in the letter released this week, using acronyms for the Chinese navy and coastguard. "Once these facilities are completed by the end of 2016 or early 2017, China will have significant capacity to quickly project substantial offensive military power to the region," Clapper added.
Vessel Discharge Amendment Push Continues
The American Waterways Operators (AWO) is continuing an intensive lobbying campaign to bring the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) to a vote in the Senate and working with the American Maritime Partnership to strenuously oppose an anti-Jones Act amendment filed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). On Februaty 1, Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), filed VIDA as an amendment to S.2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.
Insights: Matthew Paxton, SCA President
Matthew Paxton is President of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), and a partner at the law firm of Adams and Reese. SCA is the national trade association representing 41 companies that own and operate more than 120 shipyard facilities on all three U.S. coasts, the Great Lakes, inland waterways system, Alaska and Hawaii. SCA also represents 97 partner members that provide goods and services to the shipyard industry. Paxton, who has been practicing law since 2001, focuses his practice on maritime law and policy…
AWO Working Hard for the Domestic Workboat Market
The year 2015 has been a busy year for The American Waterways Operators, the national trade association for the tugboat, towboat and barge industry, and for the industry AWO is privileged to represent. It’s a dynamic time for a vital industry that constitutes the largest segment of the U.S. domestic fleet, as companies throughout the industry are investing heavily to meet evolving customer needs; the industry stands on the verge of historic regulatory change; and AWO pursues an active public policy agenda to support members’ needs for predictable and practicable government policy.
U.S.: China Placed Artillery on Reclaimed Island
The United States said on Friday that China had placed mobile artillery weapons systems on a reclaimed island in the disputed South China Sea, a development that Republican Sen. Brent Colburn, a Pentagon spokesman traveling with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, said the United States was aware of the weapons. McCain, chairman of the Senate's Armed Services Committee, said the move would escalate tensions but not lead to conflict. "It is a disturbing development and escalatory development, one which heightens our need to make the Chinese understand that their actions are in violation of international law and their actions are going to be condemned by everyone in the world," he said at a news conference in Ho Chi Minh City.
China Criticizes US over Maritime Patrol Proposal in South China Sea
China asked the United States to take no position on the South China Sea issue after US Navy Officer Robert Thomas promised to back the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in patrolling areas of the waterway. "We hope the United States will strictly honor its commitment of not taking positions or sides on territorial sovereignty issues," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei. The U.S. navy officer suggested on Tuesday that the Southeast Asian countries form a combined maritime force to patrol areas of the South China Sea.
Captains' Union Blasts McCain’s Keystone Amendment
International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Asks: If Keystone is a “Jobs Bill” Why Would Congress Want to Send 400,000 Maritime Jobs in 26 States Overseas? S.1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, has been described as a “jobs bill” by the pipeline’s proponents since Keystone XL was first proposed, but according to the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, a new amendment introduced by Arizona Sen. The Sea Captains’ Union claims the amendment would gut a significant part of the Jones Act, a set of laws dating back to the 1920s that has helped build and maintain a domestic shipbuilding industry. Maritime unions and maritime industry groups are now mobilizing against the amendment’s passage.
W&O Opposes McCain Amendment
W&O announced its opposition to the McCain Amendment (amendment #2) to S.1, which it said would cripple the U.S. shipbuilding industry by striking the U.S. build requirement provisions of the Jones Act. “The amendment Senator John McCain has put forth would devastate W&O’s business and others operating in the maritime industry. The ripple effect of this legislation would also impact companies and individuals outside our industry, significantly affecting the 480,000 jobs tied to maritime operations,” said Michael Hume, president and CEO of W&O.
Hagel Resigns as Defense Secretary
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned on Monday, the first major change to President Barack Obama's Cabinet since his Democrats were routed in midterm elections three weeks ago. Obama announced the resignation at a White House event with Hagel at his side. Hagel will remain in the job until a successor is in place. Hagel was appointed less than two years ago as Obama pushed his signature program of winding up wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a process that is being upended this year with U.S. re-engagement in Iraq and greater military cooperation with Kabul.
Sen. McCain Vows Jones Act will be Repealed
Senator John McCain said a more than 90-year-old law that requires ships servicing coastal businesses to be built and mostly staffed by U.S. crews will be repealed sooner or later if lawmakers keep fighting the trade restriction. Oil refiners, and many manufacturers and state governments oppose the Jones Act, saying the requirement increases costs by blocking shipping by cheaper foreign-built and foreign-flagged vessels. The Department of Homeland Security issued a rare waiver of the act in 2012 when superstorm Sandy led to fuel shortages at gas stations on the East Coast…
Wicker to Chair US Seapower Subcommittee
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was chosen by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., to lead the Subcommittee on Seapower. The Subcommittee on Seapower is responsible for Navy and Marine Corps programs and procurement, maritime issues, and strategic lift programs for the Department of Defense. “Mississippi has a proud tradition of supporting our Navy and Marine Corps. I look forward to continuing that tradition as Chairman of this subcommittee, as well as working with the department’s leadership,” Wicker said.
AMP Opposes Amendment to Eliminate US Shipbuilding
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.
Lakes Defend US Build Requirement of Jones Act
An effort to remove the U.S.-build requirement from the Jones Act is being soundly rejected by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the largest labor/management coalition ever assembled to promote shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast. The Task Force said it sees no benefit to allowing foreign-built vessels to carry cargo between U.S. ports, but warns that nearly 60,000 jobs in the Great Lakes states will be sacrificed for no good reason if the amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill offered by Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is accepted.
OMSA Opposes McCain Amendment
The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) issued a statement regarding Senator John McCain’s proposal allowing foreign-built vessels to take over marine transportation in the United States, stating the amendment would gut U.S. shipbuilding while outsourcing jobs and security. “Senator McCain has proposed an amendment to eliminate a cornerstone of U.S. maritime policy that dates back to the founding of our nation. The reservation of domestic transportation to U.S.-built vessels ensures the existence and viability of America’s shipbuilding industrial base.