Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Jones Act and BP Deepwater Spill

On Fox and Friends the claim was made the Jones Act is hindering the cleanup of the BP Deepwater oil spill because foreign vessel which could be used in the cleanup are not allowed to assist .

A scene  is shown of  some vessel  apparently idle because of the Jones Act. 

It's all bogus-  here is a report from Media Matters.

Anyone making this claim should either supply specifics, what is the  name or names of any vessel that can assist but has been prohibited or - how about a nice cup of coffee?

Here is a Journal of Commerce article: Jones Act Supporters Deny Opposing Oil Spill Waivers

Update: I think it would be difficult to make it more clear then this.

 From: SF Gate 

In an official statement by the Unified Command's Lt. Erik Halvorson, Chief, Joint Information Center of the Unified Area Command said:

 I am not aware of any instance in which needed foreign ships or technology have not been accepted due to the Jones Act. The Jones Act is not preventing us from getting the technology that we need.



Will said...

"This is HUGE!"

-Steve Doocy

Anonymous said...

I would hardly call Media Matters an objective "source". Besides, they don't provide evidence, only loose, partisan interpretations of press releases which obviously tap dance around directly answering the question.

I wonder if when more details come to light, you'll be willing to admit you were wrong.

There's plenty of evidence out there, you should do your own research.

Anonymous said...

As a merchant mariner, I would imagine you are familiar with the Jones Act as it relates to foreign vessels operating in U.S. waters, no?

So tell me, if the Dutch, Norwegian, Saudi, etc. ships are capable of skimming, why are they not here?

Also, not directly related, but can you explain why it took until the end of May/early June for CG cutters equipped for skimming to be dispatched from HI and CA?? They still won't be in the Gulf for weeks, and are capable of removing a maximum of about 15,000bbls (that's 630,000 gallons) of crude oil PER DAY.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll give you a hand and get you started on your research:

As to the names of the ships...well that's just a silly requirement on your part. Not to mention the fact that you can be sure that there are/were offers of help through official channels, that we'll never hear about (like, for example from our "friends" the Saudis) until years from now under a FOIA request.

The Dutch media isn't afraid of calling out the Obama administration (you'll find that article), but I doubt the Saudis and many other countries are likely to make a stink out of it and p*ss Obama off...

Point is this:

A) There is proof, and more will come out in the coming days. And,

B) There were probably plenty of other offers that we won't know about for years.

Ken E. Beck said...

I don't think the article you have linked to from the Houston Chronicle is accurate, it says:

The Jones Act, the maritime law that requires all goods be carried in U.S. waters by U.S.-flagged ships, has prevented Dutch ships with spill-fighting equipment from entering U.S. coastal areas.

This is wrong, the Jones Act does not prevent foreign ships from entering U.S. Coastal Waters.

Can anyone cite a credible source which provides a list of vessels which could assist with the cleanup but has not been allowed because of the Jones Act, or even the name of a single vessel?

Anonymous said...

OK, you're playing with semantics and only using part of the sentence. Of course the Jones Act doesn't prevent foreign ship from coming here.

And it really isn't fair to call out a news reporter for getting the wording wrong...they're learning about the Jones Act as they go. They probably don't understand it as well as someone like, oh, I don't know, a merchant mariner would?!?

So if you would, please answer my question - do you or do you not understand the Jones Act? For example, could a Dutch ship (let's call it "The Tulip" since you seem concerned with ship names) come to the Gulf, skim oil, take it to Houston and offload it, and repeat that process over and over without stopping at a foreign port???

BTW, it's also possible that if the Jones Act isn't to blame for blocking this specific ship and/or technology, perhaps the EPA is? See this post:

Ken E. Beck said...

Here is what Adm. Thad Allen said:

Q: There are many people who say that the best dredgers and skimmers in the world come from countries like the Netherlands and France and that they can't -- they're not being asked to come in because of the Jones Act. Is that the case? And why not get around that, suspend that, so you can bring that other you know technology in?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Well, first of all, those are source countries. That's correct, they're available. But we are using them. We are dealing with folks like Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and other places. Anyplace that's got skimming capability that's available, we're willing to talk to them, and we actually have, in some cases, actually transferred the equipment down and will continue to do that.

Key point: "We are using them" This should settle the question if they can be used or not, there are, in fact, being used.

Anonymous said...

I asked you a simple question, and you refuse to answer, so I'm not going to bother trying to engage you in debate anymore. If you don't know the answer, at least say you don't know.

I read that whole press conference with w/ Adm. Allen on Thursday. As for his responses, you ought to be able to read between the lines, no? Not to mention the fact that he's a military man, and is certainly well trained enough to give accurate, but not necessarily wholly informative answers when trying to maintain confidentiality (that is, not saying anything that will P.O. the CinC). "We're willing to talk to them" and "We have, in some cases, transferred equipment"'s two months later and we're still "willing to talk"?!?!?

You know what we got from Canada? 3km of booms. That's less than 2 miles.

Just because you're using some of the "available resources" does not mean you're using all, most, or even a significant portion of what's out there.

For example, forgetting the foreign aide issue for a moment...why did it take two months to decide to send CG cutters from HI and CA?

You haven't answered that question I've asked, or most others, and you won't, so I'm moving on.

Will said...

You know anon, the burden of proof lies with you. It's impossible to prove that all available resources are being used. It's up to you to show the resources that aren't being used. If you can't show that vessels were barred from operating because of the Jones Act then you have no business trolling on this blog.

What brings you to a Merchant Marine blog anyway?

Anonymous said...

Forgive me. I didn't see the sign the said "merchant mariners only". I happen to be a recreational boater (and boat owner, currently a 28' cabin cruiser docked in Greenwich Bay, RI) for 30 years, but that is far from a merchant mariner, thus I am woefully unqualified to post and/or ask questions.

Presumably, you're a MM Will, so why don't you answer my simple hypothetical question about whether a Dutch vessel can operate as I described?!? My guess is you can't, or you don't want to, because you know I am correct, and it would destroy your argument - despite the fact that I can not name a vessel.

I provided evidence. Because I can't name a vessel, my point is moot? This isn't a court of law, it's a blog. I assumed Mr. Beck was interested in intelligent debate by virtue of the fact that he A) has a blog and B) it's open to comments.

And if you read all of my posts, you'll notice that I readily admitted that the Jones Act may not be to blame, but the EPA might.

The truth will eventually come to light and one of us will be proven correct, so it doesn't make a hill of beans to me.

Good evening.

Anonymous said... doesn't have the answers I was looking for, but is the Stril Poseidon operating in the GoM?

Is the Don Inda operating in the GoM?

How about the Stril Herkules ( ), which has the same Transrec 150 system PERMANENTLY INSTALLED, as I suspect many other foreign ships do (have permanent systems of some sort, that is)???

Or more specifically, could they, without a waiver of the Jones Act????

I don't know if any of these ships (or any of many ships like them) were SPECIFICALLY offered by the Norwegians or Spanish respectively - but do you think any layperson would be privy to that level of specifics?

My guess is NONE of these ships are here....or it would be in the news somewhere around the globe - you know, something like "Help is on the way from _______".

Anonymous said...

Found another ship tracker site.

So where's the Knechtsand? Well, as of a few minutes ago, she's in the North Sea.

How about the Neuwerk? Nope, in the North Sea as well.

What about the MS MPOSS? No record for her on marinetraffic.

How about the MS Norderhever? ( )
You guessed it, she's in....wait for it.....the North Sea.

Or how about the Mobile Oil Dyke MOD Westensee? No idea. Could be scrap for all I know. But pretty sure it's not in the GoM.

I could probably go on and on....but I'm staying up to watch Le Mans, and I've already missed too much of it.

BTW, there's no way any of us is getting info on the Saudi ships and/or technology that were used in the early '90s...but I'm sure the former president of Shell Oil was full of it as a possibility. ( ). Although, he does seem to contradict himself a lot, so who knows.

You guys have fun keeping your heads in the sand and believing our ultra-efficient and purest intentioned government is on top of this. I'll go drink my cup of STFU now.

Anonymous said...

That cup of STFU didn't sit well.

From this exchange (from Friday), a non-answer is just as good as an answer. When asked "are foreign vessels being used", a simple "yes" (followed by whatever elaboration he wanted) would have silenced all the "conspiracy theories", as you seem to think they are.

And to say "has a national inventory been done" is laughable. It's been TWO MONTHS!

From Adm. Allen's latest Press Conference (I really feel for this guy, he's really getting squeezed by the WH - I can't wait to read his memoirs in a few years):

Q: Admiral, back on skimmers, in terms of the Jones Act …


Q: Have you waived that? Are you using foreign vessels?

ADMIRAL ALLEN: Whether it’s involving skimming capability, offshore supply vessels or tankers or whatever we need and dredges for Louisiana, we are more than willing to consider Jones Act waivers, but we need to have a little bit of homework done upfront—has there been an assessment of national inventory, are there any other alternative methods to provide those platforms? Are there issues regarding crewing or anything else? And nobody has come to me for a Jones Act waiver yet, but I’ve told everyone we are prepared to consider them should that become necessary.

[End of transcript]

Maybe your cup go down better than mine did.

Anonymous said...

It's also worth noting that they keep referring to the "operational requirements", but are unwilling to state what those requirements are.

I certainly couldn't find them on the Unified Command website:

Anonymous said...

K.C., it's your blog, so it's your prerogative to ignore my questions, and the evidence I provided, which you requested.

BTW, who is Halvorsen's boss? Pretty sure Adm. Allen is higher up the chain....and you haven't addressed his comments on Friday (post-Halvorsen's comment), which I provided for you.

And just for the fun of it....these answers would make a Clinton proud.

"I am not aware" essentially lets him off the hook for the rest of the statement. And if that didn't, using the qualifier "needed" certainly does. How exactly is "needed" defined. The last statement puts the final nail in the argument by referring to "getting the technology we need". If my house were on fire and the fire department sent me schematics for a fire truck, I'd have the technology I needed...but it might be nice to have a few actual fire trucks. And maybe some firemen. This is playing semantics and double speak of the highest order.

Since you made the comment "I think it would be difficult to make it more clear than this", I have to respond:

If you accept answers to direct questions, with incredibly vague answers like this from your crew - AND MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON THOSE ANSWERS NO LESS - I'm glad I'll never sail on one of your commands. Captain: "Everything OK in the engine room?" Response, from an engine mechanic: "As far as I know, all systems that are necessary are functioning." Captain: "Very well, carry on." [Engine explodes] Captain: "I thought you said everything was fine?!? Response: "It was, as far as I knew. I haven't been near the engine room all day." "Why didn't the fire suppression system work?!?" "Well, it's a great system to have...but it's not really 'necessary' for the ship to function, so I wasn't really referring to that." "Where's your boss, the Chief Mechanic?" "I think he's still very busy preparing the spare parts inventory you requested."

FWIW, I am the poster "jsb432" on that site you linked to, where the author, Yobie Benjamin - in his next post ( ) realized he may not be getting the entire story and agreed it was worth looking into further, so he filed a FIOA request.

Blake said...

Jones Act waivers weren't that hard to come by after Katrina. There were two Carnival Cruise ships moored downtown in New Orleans undoubtedly skimming a lot of money off the Government acting as floatels exclusively for local emergency response personnel.

At the same time several tankers were waived to carry product domestically all the while U.S. flagged tankers were at the ready.

While the response to the oil spill is a different situation than Katrina I don't see why the government is dragging their feet every inch of the way.

How could the Jones Act, which is so often circumnavigated by the oil and gas industry, impede the cleanup?

I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here Captain Anonymous but calling into question someone's professional attributes based on an opinion, assuredly a lopsided one, is a stretch.

I think you need to let K.C. command his vessel while you take a relaxing trip in your cabin cruiser around the bay to contemplate focusing your anger in more productive channels.

Anonymous said...

So, Katrina had plenty of hotel space after the hurricane? What hotel did you stay at when you were down there after Katrina? Regardless, as you pointed out, Katrina has few, if any parallels to the oil leak.

"How could the Jones Act, which is so often circumnavigated by the oil and gas industry, impede the cleanup?"
- Have you not read the rest of these comments, or any of the press accounts of what may be happening? I'll put it simply - if there is even a single foreign vessel that is capable of skimming oil (and has been offered to assist) and it is not in the GoM because of the Jones Act, then the Jones Act is "impeding the cleanup". To argue otherwise is just silly (at best) or asinine and dishonest (at worst).

Anyway, this blog happened to come up on the first page of a google search on the Jones Act. Once I saw that it was a small, relatively private blog with a handful of posts and comments, you're right, I probably should have just moved on.

However, after seeing it was written by a captain, I thought it might be a good opportunity to get some insight and have a reasonable debate with an informed person, and his circle of followers (which presumably includes another MM or two).

As it happens, I'm on the boat as I type. It's a little crummy out, so I'm at the dock...but quite relaxed, thank you.

I'm not angry at anyone here (although my comments may have gotten progressively snarky) and I'm sure you wouldn't care even if I were... I'm just having fun and trying to enlighten someone - whether it's you guys, or me.

So far, I've provided a heck of a lot more information. I decided to take a little time this weekend while watching some TV to try to learn something, but since nobody here is willing to look beyond their noses, the only learning I've done is the research I've done on my own.

Sorry I got everyone's panties twisted.

Will said...

"I thought it might be a good opportunity to get some insight and have a reasonable debate with an informed person, and his circle of followers"

Thats why your first comment was: "I wonder if when more details come to light, you'll be willing to admit you were wrong."

You're clearly just a troll who has nothing better to do than leave post after post.

Anonymous said...

Ouch, a troll, that really hurt.

So I asked if he's be willing to admit his claim that "it's all bogus" was wrong? What's wrong with that?

The original post was more than a little confrontational, with little to back it up, including offering to drink a cup of shut the fuck up - so ask yourself what set the tone for the conversation.

Besides, I thought you Downeasters, especially those that claim to be mariners, would have slightly thicker skin. Next time I'm up visiting family or rafting the Dead, I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll assume any truck I pass with an Obama bumper sticker might be you.

I object to people such as the crowd that apparently associates here making ridiculous claims and using sources such as Media Matters and a SF Chronicle blogger to back them up.

People like you can't engage in a debate though. You're much happier being delusional.

Not one of you has answered a single question or point I raised. Just call me a troll and sit back behind your keyboard. Mature.

Got plenty better to do. But multitasking by pissing off liberals like you just adds to the fun of what ever else I happen to be enjoying at the time. (For example, right now, my ice cream tastes a little better, and the game is little more fun to watch).

So I've obviously pissed you off, but just try and respond to one of my points or questions. I thought so.

Will said...

Man, you really don't get it. I asked you to show me the evidence that vessels were offered and refused because of the Jones Act. Instead you post up 6 comments in a row, none showing resources turned away by the Jones act.

"Just call me a troll and sit back behind your keyboard."
Great insult Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

What is this, junior high?

Anonymous said...

Your constant refrain of "prove it" doesn't even qualify as junior-high, it sounds like a 2nd grader. Would you like me to prove the sky is blue?

Let's try a reading comprehension exercise. Try this article from an hour ago:

You won't accept it, because it doesn't come right out and say in bold letters "IT'S THE JONES ACT'S FAULT!!!" But I obviously can't help you with what is apparently a massive logical leap for you.

You may want to focus on quotes such as:

"BP pledged $360 million for the [dredging] plan, but U.S. dredging companies -- which have less than one-fifth of the capacity of Dutch dredging firms -- have objected to foreign companies' participation."

or "the Swedish Coast Guard said it can send three ships that can each collect 370 barrels of oil an hour, but it is waiting to hear from the U.S. government or BP."

0r "The Norwegian Coastal Authority has approved sending nearly a third of the nation's spill response equipment to the gulf if asked."

It seems the only proof you'll accept is for an official from the WH to come right out and say "Yeah, we turned down a bunch of help because of the Jones Act, sorry about that". Who knows, the place is packed with idiots, so maybe someday they'll let it slip.

Anyway, I have to say I'm still having fun "wasting my time" here.

Anonymous said...

Kennebec Captain...your a fucking idiot. You don't have proper reading comprehension. Read the Media Matters article very very carefully. The Jones act does not permit foreign vessels PERIOD. It has not been waived which means foreign vessels cannot be used PERIOD. Foreign technology can be used. Foreign technology is not the same as foreign vessels. Please take the time here to understand the difference and be less stupid. Vessels vs equipment. Read that again in case your dyslexic.

Firstly the Jones act should have been waived. Secondly the Media Matters article makes it clear that Obama is an incompetent fool.

There are a number of things you and Obama don't seem to realize

1) it takes time to transfer equipment from foreign ships to US ships which is what has to be done. You don't seem to understand that so far the government has only used foreign equipment NOT SHIPS. This is to satisfy the Jone's act. The equipment may no fit on ships it wasn't designed for and some equipment is not detachable from ships (Norway here is a good example) and then you can't use it.

2) The foreign ships were ready to go right away...American ships weren't and there are not enough of them even using foreign equipment.

3) You don't wait for foreign countries to ask you for waivers. You seek out the countries yourself, urgently request their assistance and get their ships into the cleanups efforts ASAP using any means available. You seek them don't fucking sit on your hands and wait for them to come to you. This is like a guy who never leaves the house complaining that no girl has asked him out.

Ken E. Beck said...

Thanks for the comment. We enjoyed reading it.


John Konrad said...

This was gone over in length during today's Transportation Committee hearings:

Anonymous said...

You very welcome you stupid fuck.

Anonymous said...

K.C. and others, there is another person commenting as Anonymous within the past few days that is not the same as me, the first "Captain Anonymous" that started on your first Jones Act post.

Anyway, the "other Anonymous" is a little more rude and abusive than I. Not that I've been the model of civility...but I just wanted to point it out.