On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced he would be waiving the Jones Act in response to devastation that has hit the island of Puerto Rico. Much of the reporting about this has included inaccurate information. Here are the real facts about the Jones Act and Puerto Rico.
True or False: The Jones Act was impeding relief efforts to Puerto Rico.
False: Foreign-flag ships with cargo from ports outside the United States have always been allowed entry to Puerto Rico.
True or False: Unions oppose waiving the Jones Act in an emergency so that ships can access Puerto Rico.
False: Maritime labor has never, not once, opposed a waiver of the Jones Act in an emergency when there were not enough ships or mariners to handle the job. We have never let a ship sail shorthanded.
True or False: Waiving the Jones Act is critical to aiding Puerto Rico at this time.
False: One of the biggest challenges in Puerto Rico is unloading the current cargo ships that are docked as well as the containers at port, not getting more foreign cargo ships. About 9,500 containers of goods were moved by domestic maritime companies to help its residents recover. In the immediate aftermath, one state-of-the-art large container ship arrived with more than 35 million pounds of cargo. This is the equivalent carrying capacity of 1,900 cargo planes. In anticipation of the island’s needs, the domestic American maritime industry stowed some 3,000 containers filled with goods in the terminals prior to the hurricane landing. Jones Act vessels have the capacity to carry more than 4,000 containers per week to Puerto Rico.
True or False: Waiving the Jones Act would add efficiency to delivery of goods.
False: Because of infrastructure challenges, a Jones Act waiver could hinder, not help, relief efforts. A Jones Act waiver could overwhelm the system. There are logistical bottlenecks as a result of the inability to distribute goods within Puerto Rico due to road blockages, communications disruptions and concerns about equipment shortages, including trucks, chassis and containers.