The United States has more than 95,000 miles of national shoreline including borders in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts as well as the Great Lakes separating the United States from Canada. Along this shoreline are many of America’s greatest cities and in virtually all of these locations there are ports through which millions of cargo containers and hundreds of thousands of passengers annually pass.
The U.S. marine transportation system encompasses all of these waterways, as well as the world’s largest exclusive economic zone. For regulatory, safety and security purposes, it includes 361 ports, over 3,000 facilities and more than 14,000 regulated domestic vessels.
Via the inland waterways, a terrorist could reach America’s heartland and many of its largest and most important urban centers. These waterways are heavily traveled by both commercial and pleasure craft. They carry an enormous weight of the nation’s internal commerce. Critical land lines, communications and oil and gas pipelines traverse a number of these waterways. Guarding every potential target along the inland waterways against terrorist attack is an impossible task.
Without the Jones Act, the Department of Homeland Security would be confronted by the difficult and costly requirement of monitoring, regulating and overseeing foreign controlled, foreign crewed vessels in coastal and internal U.S. waters, therefore making it critical to U.S. homeland security.
U.S. Sealift Capacity
America’s domestic fleet is an important part of the national maritime infrastructure that helps ensure ample U.S. sealift capacity is available to defend and supply our cities. American ships, along with the crews to operate them, transport construction and repair yards, intermodal equipment, terminals, cargo tracking systems and other important infrastructure can be made available to the U.S. military at a moment’s notice in times of war, national emergency, or even in peacetime.Back to Critical Issues
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