Trailer Bridge CEO Mitch Luciano joined fellow Jones Act carriers to review issues and impacts experienced over the past two years during the Capital Link Jones Act & U.S. Flag Shipping Forum. Unlike the global disruption the supply chain has experienced across all facets, the Jones Act carriers have a different story to tell – they’ve been operating at a steady pace.
The Jones Act was passed in 1917 and was designed to provide reliability and stability to U.S. customers and that is exactly what it is doing today. “The biggest challenge of the supply chain is the inconsistency overall, but the U.S. flagged vessels have been doing the opposite and sailing on schedule,” said Luciano. “You know that our barges are going to be there every Tuesday and Thursday and customers are able to move their containers off-port.”
While providing consistent sailings, Jones Act carriers are not immune to all issues the shipping and transportation industry faces. The state of the current economy is coping with inflation. Fuel costs, driver costs, shipping costs, cost of goods; they’re all increasing with no immediate sign of diminishing. “Keeping our customers informed of rising costs to transport their goods is vital,” said Luciano. “We have open discussions with them and mitigate the increases as much as possible. We’ve remained consistent and our customers appreciate that.”
Labor and capacity were also two issues that arose on the panel. While U.S. Flagged Carriers on the West Coast battle periods of bottlenecks and lack of port labor, the East Coast Carriers are experiencing lack of drivers and lack of drivers creates congestion at the rail yards. “Railroads transporting containers can’t offload those containers due to congested rail yards and the lack of truckers to clear out the yards is impacting the shipping times,” said Luciano. There is, however, some relief occurring. “We are beginning to see a return to ‘normalcy,’ but I think it will be another year before we see the supply chain fully smooth out,” stated Luciano.
Overall, the main points U.S. Flagged Carriers can agree on is consistency and reliability. Speed to market is vital and both customers and consumers expect that to remain the priority. The Jones Act has been a pillar of American prosperity for more than 100 years and it more than proved its value during the pandemic. As the supply chain continues to untangle, the U.S. flagged carriers will remain steadfast in their sailings and pivot as needed – remaining vital to the success of America’s maritime future.