Page 9: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (January 2017)

The Ship Repair & Conversion Edition

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Wrapped loosely around that crazy

Canadian idea that we all ought to work together, I can think of no less expensive, more impactful action for these United States than the elimination of the shortsea leg of the

About the Author

Joseph Keefe is the lead commenta-

Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT). tor of Ad- ditionally, he is Editor of both Maritime

Logistics Professional and MarineNews

In simple terms, no one in their right print magazines. He can be reached at or at mind is going to pay that tax twice to MaritimePro- is the largest business move a cargo domestically by water. networking site devoted to the marine industry. shortsea leg of the Harbor Maintenance And the beauty is that it doesn’t cost rail yards of Chicago, huge barge tows better at what they do than any of our

Tax (HMT). In simple terms, no one in the taxpayer a penny to repeal the short- delayed by failing 50-year old locks, or U.S. East Coast ports. They probably their right mind is going to pay that tax sea HMT, because we are getting next an idling trailer truck stuck in the Fort won’t be. But, what they will have is a twice to move a cargo domestically by to nothing in terms of ? nancial reward McHenry Tunnel, you don’t have to look foreign port – minutes from our East and water. That ad valorum tax based on from it in the ? rst place. very far to con? rm that reality. Gulf Coast shores, and no shortsea HMT the value of the cargo and paid by the Under my Utopian intermodal supply The new President can achieve his tax to hinder a robust coastwise niche shipper makes it uneconomical to ship chain, truckers and shortsea shipping lofty infrastructure goals, mostly with- trade. They are already ef? ciently scan- the cargo coastwise – something that would peacefully coexist in a mutually out spending another penny above and ning each and every container that cross- would greatly reduce the congestion that bene? cial world where niche-class Jones beyond what is already being allocated. es the docks (in less than two minutes crowds our highways. It always has – Act boxships take pressure off the long But not unless the shortsea HMT is re- each). I am a proud and vociferous Jones much to the delight of long haul truck- haul routes, produce short haul truck- pealed and simultaneously all transport Act supporter, but it is fair to point out ers and the railroads that actively ? ght ing jobs aplenty at the cargo’s ultimate modes – rail, pipeline, barges and ships that a Bahamas shortsea shipment also to keep it in place – and it always will. destination, the truckers can go home ev- and trucking, too – come to realize that won’t have to use more expensive Jones

Unless it is repealed. ery night, and the nation’s highway grid we’re all in this together. Until then (and Act tonnage to do it. Let’s not make it

But, the long term bene? ts of a vi- requires far less in way of maintenance in the immortal words of then-Presiden- any easier for them.

brant shortsea shipping program go far dollars. On the rail side, we already see tial candidate Ross Perot), that “giant Instead, let’s keep it simple: repeal the beyond a revived ‘niche’ Jones Act ship- ports like Charleston, SC recognizing sucking noise that you hear” is the sound shortsea HMT. Then, let’s recalibrate the ping trade (where smaller boxships col- the value of inland rail ports to do the of 40-foot containers (that should be go- intermodal abacus. I’ll bet you ‘dollars lect cargo from deep draft harbors and very same thing. ing though U.S. ports) sliding smoothly to donuts’ that it looks a whole lot better. shuttle it to shallow draft ports), or the through Canadian ports in the Paci? c It is worth a try. This is a good time to robust shipbuilding boom that would A Little Advice for Mr. Trump Northwest. remember yet another presidential can- naturally follow, to satisfy that need. The Canadians have it right. Our sup- Further south, the same calculus – with didate’s recent words, when he simply

Circling back to infrastructure, the ef- ply chain will never be any better than a slightly different twist – is also in play. asked, “What do you have to lose?” fort is all about reducing the wear and the least ef? cient mode in the equation. In the port of Freeport, Bahamas, a natu- tear on our roadways and bridges. That’s And here in the States, that paints (at the ral deep draft port and box terminal is because the less we need to spend on moment) a pretty grim picture. Whether already gearing up to be the region’s repairing the roads, the more we’ll have you are looking at trains moving at an post-Panamax port of choice. That’s not to upgrade our ports. It is simple math. average speed of nine MPH through the because they’ll be any more ef? cient or – MarPro. 9

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