... because of the vastness of the nation, the expansive network of rivers, lakes, and canals is critical to the efficient transportation of natural resources, food, and manufactured goods from state to state and ultimately to market. Because of the importance of the merchant marine and the critical role that coastwise and inland waterway transportation plays in its economy, America has always made sound decisions about protecting the integrity of this system along with the vitality of our waterways.
Thus, the Jones Act , titled after its sponsor Senator Wesley R. Jones, from Washington State, was passed as part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.
This federal legislation includes four primary requirements on vessels carrying goods between U.S. ports. The vessels must be:
- Owned by U.S. companies that are controlled by U.S. citizens with at least 75 percent U.S. percent ownership
– At least 75 percent crewed by U.S. citizens
– Built (or rebuilt) in the United States
– Registered in the United States
These requirements apply to all trade between ports in the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. While excluded from the Jones Act, the outlying territories, such as Guam, are covered by similar laws that require vessels be U.S.-flagged, owned, and crewed, but do not include the U.S.-build requirement.