OMSA Launches Law Enforcement Vessel Jones to Patrol US Gulf
The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) has announced plans to use a vessel to monitor foreign flag operations in the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, with the intention of using it as a platform to collect photographic evidence of Jones Law violations. Evidence will be submitted to enforcement authorities, made public and shared with the media.
The Jones Act requires that marine cargoes shipped between two points in the United States be transported by ships that are built, manned and owned by the United States. It is central to US maritime policy and national shipping law, and it provides essential support for US shipowners, sailors and shipbuilders. The law is essential to maintaining a national maritime industry strong enough to support national defense objectives, and it enjoys the support of the United States Navy, Coast Guard, United States Maritime Administration, and many members of Congress.
According to the OMSA, the Jones Act is not fully enforced by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the agency responsible for overseeing compliance. The CBP interpretation process has left room for foreign-flagged offshore vessels to perform certain functions on the US continental shelf, such as heavy lift and pipeline operations, as long as these vessels are not “carrying cargo. “between American points. However, the definitions of “transport” and “freight” have been debated for decades, and OMSA says CBP has allowed foreign-flagged operators to push the boundaries too far.
“The Jones Act is very simple, if a foreign ship takes a cargo at one point in the United States and transports it to another point, it has broken the law,” Smith continued. “Foreign ships have been successful in muddling the waters for a long time. Now we’re going to put the spotlight on their actions and show everyone how many foreign sailors are taking money out of the pockets of American sailors. If foreign ship owners or the companies they work for don’t like this scrutiny, I suggest they hire US owned, US crewed and US built vessels.
OMSA’s new patrol boat, the Jones Act Enforcer, is a 150-foot crew boat built in 2007. Formerly known as Harvey Hustler, she is equipped with a 7,000 hp powertrain and can do 20 knots.