Eight organizations representing maritime industry workers in the continental United States criticize Governor Albert Bryan’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Northeast Maritime Institute to implement a maritime initiative that will make the US Virgin Islands the first international registry opened ships in the USA.

“On behalf of the licensed and unlicensed American Merchant Seamen who have proudly and without fail served our country since its founding, we oppose in the strongest possible terms the creation of an open registry in the Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States,” said a press release from Lisa Rosenthal, director of communications for the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots.

The group says that “open registers exist so that shipowners can increase their profits by avoiding the same rules, regulations, tax obligations and manning requirements that apply to a nationally flagged fleet. This latest effort is nothing more than an exercise in labor arbitration designed to generate registration fees and enrich foreign shipowners at the expense of American workers and American national interests.

In the press release, dated February 1, the eight organizations that represent a broad coalition of the labor movement said: “The U.S. Virgin Islands Open Flag of Convenience Project will no longer benefit the United States or the American maritime industry. that any other second register or open register benefits a national flag country.

Elaborating further, he said: “In fact, the creation and growth of second registries by other industrialized countries has done little more than decimate their national fleets to the point that they are no longer able to provide the military security and logistical support necessary for their flag nations.”

The coalition said that at its core, the proposal, which allows ships to operate with foreign sailors under an open United States registry, “is an affront to American sailors who have always put themselves in harm’s way whenever our nation.”

“Their service, recently recognized by Congress with the award of a Congressional Gold Medal to American Merchant Seamen of World War II, demonstrates a clear and unwavering commitment on the part of American Merchant Seamen to supply and support US troops deployed around the world, with no regard for their own safety.

“American sailors believe that our service members and their families deserve nothing less. U.S. military security will not be enhanced by relying on foreign-owned and foreign-crewed vessels,” the statement said, noting that such a move could jeopardize U.S. troops deployed in the United States. foreigner.

“The safety of American troops deployed overseas and the success of their mission must not be jeopardized by the use of an open flag-of-convenience registration system that uses foreign-crewed ships to deliver what our military needs to do their job in our country. name,” the statement read.

“We call on the Department of Defense, the Maritime Administration, the Biden administration and Congress to reject any suggestion that ships flying the flag of the U.S. Virgin Islands would be treated as if they were U.S.-flagged, crewed ships. American for any purpose. or for any program.

“At the same time, we reiterate our commitment to work with the administration and Congress to achieve a more robust, commercially viable, American-manned, U.S.-flagged fleet that will continue to protect the economic, military, and homeland security of states. United,” the statement said. which is signed by David Connolly, President of Sailors Union of the Pacific; Paul Doell, president of American Maritime Officers; Daniel Duncan, Secretary-Treasurer of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Journeymen & Pilots; Anthony Poplawski, president of the Marine Firemen’s Union; Greg Regan, Chairman of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO; Michael Sacco, president of the Seafarers International Union, and Adam Vokac, president of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.

Earlier this week, the Bryan administration issued a press release that welcomed the agreement and said that the memorandum of understanding, signed with the Northeast Maritime Institute and titled “Plan to Revitalize America’s Maritime Commerce, Trade and strategic competition”, is designed to ensure economic stability and the environment. protection, as well as to revitalize the United States’ position as a major competitor in international maritime trade and commerce, while enhancing national security, both domestically and internationally. The Northeast Maritime Institute is a coeducational private maritime college that offers degrees in maritime science.

“Because the territory is completely exempt from the Jones Act, which requires the majority of crew members on ships passing between U.S. ports to be Americans and sets forth other regulations, it is uniquely positioned to be a port of registry. open international,” the statement said. of the Governor’s Office.

In addition to creating an international open registry within USVI, the revitalization plan includes a number of initiatives. These are:

  • Develop a short sea transshipment hub in the Caribbean to reduce supply chain congestion by moving some of the east coast distribution from land to sea and increasing the number of ports important to international cargo. ‘overseas.
  • Build public/private/international partnerships to solve strategic maritime issues, increase transparency and enforce legal and ethical standards.
  • Establish and implement a green shipping strategy, including the decarbonization of the US-flagged fleet.
  • Establish a marine venture capital fund to finance commercially advanced technologies that solve problems in the marine and ocean industry with a focus on environmental vulnerabilities.
  • Modernize the maritime workforce by deploying state-of-the-art education and training tools in the United States and abroad.

“This is a partnership with local, national and global implications that will increase the strategic importance of the Virgin Islands to the country’s maritime industry,” Governor Bryan said ahead of Tuesday’s signing ceremony in the capital. national, according to Gov’t House. “In addition to the economic boost and jobs it will bring to the territory, it gives the United States a commercially strategic ship registry in the Caribbean and will improve and boost the global supply chain.”

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