June 24 - The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and US Coast Guard have been accused of allowing foreign registered shipping to enter and leave US waters without being stopped, contrary to the provisions of the Jones Act.
The claim was made to a US Congressional committee by the president of the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA), whose members are US-flagged ship operators that work in the offshore energy sector.
The ninety-year old Jones Act insists that ships operating within US waters or travelling between US ports in coastal waters, must be US-built, owned, operated and crewed.
OMSA president Ken Wells told the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation that almost 100 foreign ships work in the offshore energy sector on a regular basis while some 60 foreign ships have worked in the Gulf of Mexico since the recent oil spill but have since departed.
Meanwhile, the OMSA has reacted with optimism to the ruling by a US judge to remove the Obama administration's six-month moratorium on offshore drilling.
"Judge Feldman recognised the potential for the ban to cause significant economic harm to our country and the Gulf Coast, not to mention the damage it would do to America's maritime industry," said Wells.