Legislators Calls for US-flag LNG Carriers

© Wojciech Wrzesien / Adobe Stock

Posted by Eric Haun

New legislation proposed this week would require up
to 30 percent of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to
travel on U.S.-flagged vessels.

The U.S. is expected to continue ramping up its LNG exports in
the coming years and become a net exporter by 2020, yet there are
currently no U.S.-flag carriers to carry the cargo.

"We're the most powerful nation in the world, but 99 percent of
our trade travels on foreign-flagged ships," said Congressman
John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City), Ranking Member of
the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation,
who introduced the bill (H.R. 1240 "Energizing American Maritime
Act") this week.

"We need to right this ship and grow America's maritime sector,"
Garamendi said.

Garamendi contends that requiring a percentage of energy American
exports to be carried on U.S. ships would strengthen the nation's
economy as well as national security.

"We can't rely on foreign-flagged vessels to provide the
necessary movement of strategic materials in a time of war.
Requiring even a minority of strategic energy asset exports to be
carried on U.S.-flagged ships will compel us to rebuild the
technical skill to man these vessels-and with that comes good,
high-paying, maritime jobs."

The proposed rule would require a new fleet of U.S.-built LNG
carriers, which have not been constructed domestically since
before 1980. There are currently no LNG carriers registered under
the U.S. flag.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on
the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, and drew support
from the domestic maritime industry.

"The legislation would revitalize the maritime industry by
creating thousands of seafaring jobs," said Marshall Ainley,
President of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association. "Not
only important to our economic security, a strong commercial
fleet is crucial to our national security as it maintains a base
of trained mariners who are prepared to serve the U.S. military.
The MEBA appreciates Rep. Garamendi's effort to apply 'Make it in
America' standards to the maritime industry."

"The Navy League strongly supports Rep. John Garamendi's bill in
support of our U.S.-flag fleet," said Navy League National
Executive Director Cari Thomas. "A healthy U.S.-flag Merchant
Marine and a strong shipbuilding industry are tied to our
national security and economic prosperity. The Department of
Defense depends on the Merchant Marine for over 95 percent of our
national defense sealift needs in times of war or national
emergency. Replacing this sealift capacity would cost the
Department of Defense billions of dollars. This bill will help
ensure we can depend on the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine for years
to come. It supports American jobs, national security and our
national interests."

Brian Schoenman, Political and Legislative Director of the
Seafarers International Union, said, "From a U.S. Merchant Marine
perspective, this bill offers an excellent opportunity to create
American jobs while strengthening U.S. national, economic and
homeland security. Our military leaders as well as government
officials have expressed concern about declines in U.S.-flag
tonnage and the number of U.S. mariners. This is a chance to
start reversing those losses, which will benefit the entire
country."

Masters, Mates and Pilots President, Captain Don Marcus, said,
"The enactment of this legislation will both ensure that at least
some of the jobs associated with the export of LNG will go to
American maritime workers and help guarantee that we will have
the civilian maritime manpower needed to support America's
national security requirements in time of war or other
international emergency. This is truly an America-first proposal
that we are proud to support."

Transportation Institute released the following statement,
"Transportation Institute, which represents U.S. flag ship owners
and operators, fully supports this legislation because it will
strengthen our merchant marine by creating jobs and ensuring that
this dangerous cargo is carried aboard our U.S. -flag fleet by
our skilled mariner workforce."

Mar 3, 2017

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