Adm. Buzby: Media Missed Story on Puerto Rico Sealift


January 2018


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In a speech at the International Workboat Show late last year, U.S. Maritime Administrator Rear Adm. Mark Buzby (USN, Ret.) took the mainstream media to task for its coverage of the Jones Act and the American maritime industry’s support for Puerto Rico.


“Everyone in this room knows – or should know – how critical the Jones Act is to our economic strength and security. But this is a message with several moving parts that many people just don’t get,” he said. “The vital [relief] contribution of U.S.-flagged Jones Act shipping was obliterated by a barrage of false narratives and uninformed reporting.”


Never a Shortage of Jones Act Tonnage

After Hurricane Maria, at the same time that American shipping companies (most utilizing SIU crews) were making every effort to carry more goods to Puerto Rico, they were “falsely accused in the media of delaying the flow of relief supplies,” Buzby said. He asserted that despite frequent calls for Jones Act waivers to allow foreign ships to carry relief cargo, there was never a shortage of Jones Act tonnage.


Also late last year, in an interview with Maritime Executive, Buzby expounded on the U.S. maritime industry’s effort to provide relief cargoes to the territory.


“We literally built an iron mountain on the dock in Puerto Rico – there were 5,000 containers at one point awaiting truck transport to their final destinations,” he stated.


During a speech at the Maritime Trades Department convention in October, Buzby also took the press to task for faulty reporting on how America’s freight cabotage law affected relief efforts in Puerto Rico.


“The Jones Act has always been an easy target for people who, frankly, either don’t get it or are too lazy to get the facts right,” Buzby stated. “All these missions that our Jones Act carriers were performing (in Puerto Rico), that’s the real deal. They literally saved American lives along with thousands of others. The U.S. Merchant Marine delivered in this crisis. It did its job despite all the accusations and false narratives being thrown about in the media.”


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