Matson Containership MAUI laying at Oakland, California, on January 15, 2018, in inactive status, was towed to Brownsville, Texas, for recycling (scrapping), in January 2019.
Matson ship captain defends Jones Act
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, June 2, 2020
The Honolulu Star Advertiser published on June 2, 2020, a letter to the editor, “Hawaii is lucky to have Jones Act to bring goods,” submitted by Jack Lutey, a master mariner who has sailed for Matson Navigation Company Inc. for the past 27 years including as master of the containership MAUI.
The MAUI was a Jones Act steamship built in 1978, with a container capacity of 1626 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), 719 feet in length overall (LOA), was withdrawn from service in 2018 becoming an inactive vessel and subsequently towed from Oakland, California, to Brownsville, Texas, in January, 2019, for recycling (scrapping).
Lutey opines that the Jones Act ensures regular shipping to the Islands “with no disruptions of service . . . regardless of decreased cargo volumes.” This is unlike what he suggests would happen without the Jones Act protection for the State.
He implies the Jones Act prevents a takeover of domestic shipping by “foreign shipping,” which would not provide the necessary level of logistical support to the merchants, such as the big box retailers, and by extension consumers in Hawaii.
The facts belie much of what Lutey asserts:
There are in fact foreign flag (i.e., not Jones Act) cargo ships in Hawaii’s commercial harbors virtually every day providing important and vital support for the island’s economy.
The Congressional Research Service reported on March 2, 2017, “Hawaii and Puerto Rico now receive more cargo from foreign countries than they do from the U.S. mainland,” based upon the Waterborne Commerce Statistics prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Virtually all of that foreign cargo arrives on foreign flag ships.
Although that statistic reflects the higher volume of bulk cargoes (including crude petroleum oil, jet fuel, asphalt, propane, coal, cement, etc.) arriving under contract carriage as opposed to container cargo by common carriers such as Matson, it is instructive of how reliant Hawaii currently is on foreign shipping.
The main ocean carrier of container cargoes from Asia to Hawaii, the Ocean Network Express (ONE) Line’s Asia Hawaii Express (AHX) service, has maintained its three foreign flag containership fleet operating a weekly frequency to Honolulu Harbor throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the so-called trade war with the Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
ONE Line is an example of an international shipping company operating foreign flag containerships maintaining international services worldwide without benefit of the Jones Act.
This is as opposed to what is currently occurring with the Jones Act interisland common carrier Young Brothers LLC, which has reduced service as a result of falling cargo volumes caused by the economic shutdown for COVID-19 and is proposing additional reductions.
Capt. Jack Lutey’s Letter to the Editor of the Honolulu Star Advertiser:
Hawaii is lucky to have Jones Act to bring goods
The people of Hawaii are lucky to have a loyal Jones Act U.S. Merchant Marine supporting the islands during these times of coronavirus. The ships have arrived as scheduled, with no disruptions of service.
These Jones Act vessels will continue to deliver the goods to the people of Hawaii regardless of decreased cargo volumes. Would you trust a foreign shipping company with an international crew to continue serving Hawaii when cargo volumes and profits fall?
The people of Hawaii do not fully grasp how fragile our supply line is. Costco, Foodland, Safeway, Home Depot — none have warehouses. The ships and shipping containers are their warehouses. The goods go from the container to the showroom floor. If we were to go even one week with no ship arrivals, the shelves would be empty.
Jack Lutey, Haleiwa
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