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Things might have been a lot tougher for American consumers if not for dedicated mariners who are charged with protecting the homeland under the Jones Act.

Donna Jackson

Donna Jackson

In a little-known act of bravery, a would-be act of domestic terrorism was averted. As Project 21 Director of Membership Development Donna Jackson recounts in a Townhall commentary:

Nathaniel Blayn Becker is charged in connection with three explosive devices placed aboard towboats and barges operating on the Ohio River around the Ohio-West Virginia border. Disabling even one of these vessels would have caused inevitable delays and stoppage of water traffic along the Ohio River. And the shock of such a terroristic action would have caused inevitable chaos throughout American waterways and ports…

This protection of American property, trade and homeland security was made possible by a century-old law called the Jones Act.

The Jones Act ensures that the tens of thousands of vessels that traverse the tens of thousands of miles of American waterways (both sides!) and go between American ports are American-built, owned, crewed and flagged.

There are several important aspects of the law, as Donna explains:

From an economic perspective, the Jones Act ensures our nation always has a domestic shipping workforce and an industry of skilled shipbuilders working in America’s interests. This is a real advantage over outsourcing infrastructure vital for our economic needs to state-run businesses in countries that don’t have America’s best interests at heart. The outsourcing approach will inevitably lead to problems down the line.

Beyond the economic benefits, another often forgotten aspect of the Jones Act is the assistance it provides to our nation’s security. Currently, over 40,000 American crews ferry cargo on American ships to American ports under the terms of the Jones Act. And they serve as eyes and ears for law enforcement – which is stretched thin.

And, in the case of the Ohio River bomber, the deckhands of these Jones Act-covered vessels averted disaster. While federal, state and local law enforcement can’t possibly cover all the threats that may befall domestic river shipping lanes, these crews care because what happens in their jobs affects their lives at home.

Donna asks:

If foreign-flagged vessels with international crews traversed American waterways, would there be similar concern? Would these crews protect American assets? Would they willingly work with American law enforcement? Or conversely could foreign crews aid in sabotaging America’s transportation system?

Don’t expect China to be looking out for American interests!

“A sunken barge and damaged bridge on the Ohio River would immediately impact cities like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus,” Donna points out. “But the ripple effect of what happened could bring America’s supply chain to a halt like America came to a halt after 9/11.”

Donna remarks that “the Jones Act fills the gap,” and “proved itself in this case.”

To read all of Donna’s commentary – “Jones Act Patriotism Protects the Homeland” – click here. The commentary was also published by Opera News.

Author: David Almasi