The Trump Administration has finally decided to waive the Jones Act for the hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
The move came on the back of fierce criticism from the public saying that the restrictive regulation has delayed recovery efforts on the island.
The Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the US, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel that has a coastwise endorsement.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 28, 2017
“On September 28, the Department of Homeland Security, at the request of the Department of Defense, waived the Jones Act requirements for Puerto Rico for a 10-day period,” the US Department of Energy (DOE) said in an update.
This waiver applies to all products shipped from U.S. coastwise points to Puerto Rico, through October 8, and applies to all covered merchandise loaded on board a vessel within the 10-day period of the waiver and delivered by October, 18.
Furthermore, the operation of the containership terminal in San Juan is experiencing significant restrictions, including limited generator power.
The access to the terminal is also limited due to road damages and other conditions resulting from the hurricanes.
The hurricane season has left the majority of the 1.57 million electricity customers in Puerto Rico without power.
“Damage assessments and restoration efforts are underway, focusing on critical facilities and some communities have been restored. Initial assessments show significant damage to transmission and distribution systems,” DOE informed.
DOE, FEMA, DLA, and other Federal partners are working to facilitate fuel deliveries across the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico for generators at critical facilities and response efforts.
Majority of the island’s ports are open, some of them with restrictions.
Several companies including Crowley and Royal Carribean have joined the humanitarian efforts and provision of supplies to the island.
Crowley said that it has already taken bookings for more than 2,700 container loads of relief cargo to be delivered to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Crowley has also secured additional vessels to handle government and commercial cargo. Five new container deck barges with a combined capacity of more than 3,800 20-foot equivalent containers (TEUs) have been placed into service along with accompanying tugboats to tow them.
“They, along with Crowley’s existing vessel fleet, will operate continuously without a set schedule to get as much cargo to the island as quickly as possible and as many empty containers out of the island so that they can be returned with full loads,” the company said.
Much of the relief cargo is being funneled through Jacksonville, where the company’s logistics unit is taking cargo out of over-the-road trailers and transferring it to ocean containers prior to being loaded on a vessel.
Royal Carribean has sent its ship Adventure of the Seas to the region. On September 27, the ship arrived in San Juan with medical teams, relief supplies, and 500 generators intended for the people of Puerto Rico.
From there, Adventure will head to St. Thomas and St. Croix to drop off much-needed supplies.
“With the assistance of local government, Adventure will also pick up almost 3,000 evacuees from these islands, including families of our employees, and bring them back to Fort Lauderdale,” Royal Carribean said.
World Maritime News Staff