American boat patrols waters around new offshore wind farms to protect jobs

July 16, 2023  -NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts (AP) — One early morning this week in ocean waters off the coasts of Rhode Island and New York, signs of the nascent wind industry were all around. Giant upright steel tubes poked from the water, waiting for ships to hoist up turbines that will make electricity driven by wind.

A battleship-gray vessel was on the prowl. In this ramp-up for U.S. offshore wind, American marine companies and mariners fear they’ll be left behind.

So Aaron Smith, president of the Offshore Marine Service Association, was looking through binoculars to see whether ships servicing the new wind farms were using foreign-flagged vessels instead of U.S.-made ships with American crews.

“It really makes me upset when I think about the men and women I know who can do this work. American citizens, fully capable, sitting at home while foreign nationals go to work in U.S. waters,” Smith said. “It’s unfair.”

The ship is named the Jones Act Enforcer, after the century-old law that says the transport of merchandise between U.S. points is reserved for U.S.-built, owned and documented vessels. The motto: “We’ll be watching.” Smith was documenting operations to show to federal law enforcement officials and members of Congress.

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