Well, it’s a backdoor way for sure to modernize America’s ancient Jones Act fleet, but the seizure of the MSC Gayane by US officials after a huge drug bust may do the trick.
It’s a little known loophole, but some ships have sailed through it. Here is a news account of a seized vessel that entered the Hawaiian trades a few years back.
The NATIONAL GLORY is owned by National Shipping of America and is under the technical management of Crowley Maritime for maintenance and crewing.
Built in Poland in 1988, the NATIONAL GLORY was seized and confiscated in a 2008 drug bust by the U.S. Government and later sold at auction to U.S. owners.
Seizure by the U.S. Government made the ship eligible for the Jones Act trade under 46 Sec. 12112 Coastwise endorsement (a) Requirement – A coastwise endorsement may be issued for a vessel that (2) (B) if not built in the United States (ii) was adjudged to be forfeited for breach of the laws of the United States.
Will that happen in the case of the Gayane? It did not when a Tote ship, the El Moro, was involved in a small drug deal some years back. But the haul was small and the ship very old. The feds let the El Moro skate.
But there are very good odds because of the sheer size of the drug payload.
Says U.S. Attorney William McSwain:
”A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented—but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” Mr. McSwain said. “When a vessel brings such an outrageous amount of deadly drugs into Philadelphia waters, my office will pursue the most severe consequences possible against all involved parties in order to protect our district—and our country.”