For the first time in many years, a U.S. flagged saltwater ship is expected to visit Erie this week. Teras Shipping's HOUSTON, in ballast out of Duluth, is expected to arrive in Erie at 0600 on Friday morning. The ship, which was built in China, is not Jones Act-compliant and therefore will be loading for an overseas port; the owner's website has the ship due in Norfolk around June 15 seeking cargo in the direction of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Jones Act-compliant ships, which are capable of carrying cargo between two U.S. ports, must be built in the USA, as well as owned and crewed by Americans, are becoming a less common site on the world's oceans. The Jones Act, which has come under fire recently from Senator John McCain, who is lobbying to let his corporate cronies sail foreign-flagged cruise ships between two U.S. ports, is designed to protect American jobs, and does well in doing so. Without the act, the U.S. merchant fleet would disappear entirely.
However, ships not built in the U.S. are allowed to be flagged here, so long as they don't load in one U.S. port and discharge that cargo in another. It's become commonplace among shipowners seeking U.S. government cargo to buy secondhand ships on the world market and reflag them U.S., or even to reflag ships they had built. Maersk has about two dozen U.S. flagged container ships; Hapag Lloyd owns five, and APL Logistics owns several registered in the U.S. These ships trade in container services worldwide; in addition, several fleets own auto carriers and general cargo ships such as HOUSTON.
Keep checking back for updates on HOUSTON's arrival.