U.S.-Puerto Rican maritime provides national security benefits to both the U.S. and Puerto Rico by maintaining a robust shipyard industrial base with trained mariners who support national defense services during times of war and peace.
The GAO recently stated, “According to DOD officials, to the extent that Jones Act markets [like Puerto Rico] are unable to sustain a viable reserve fleet, DOD would have to incur substantial additional costs to maintain and recapitalize a reserve fleet of its own.”
The findings of the GAO are also consistent with section 3503 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, which described the “unquestioned” national security benefits of the domestic maritime industry and offered strong support for the Jones Act. Those benefits are particularly obvious and relevant in Puerto Rico now as two major American shipping companies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in modern, state-of-the-art container ships for the Puerto Rican trades that will further elevate the American domestic fleet. Changes to the Jones Act for Puerto Rico would undermine those investments, erode confidence in domestic shipbuilding markets, and reduce opportunities for American companies to build more American ships, which would have a deleterious impact on the industrial base and U.S. national security.