Jones Act

The Jones Act is another name for the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. This act asserts a number of rules and restrictions on the American merchant fleet. It states that all of the vessels that carry a United States flag must have been built in the United States , and must be owned by American citizens and documented according to the laws of the United States . Furthermore, all of the officers and at least three-quarters of the crew must be US citizens. The Jones Act declares that only American vessels can transport goods from one American port to another. The Jones Act also contains some provisions meant to protect the rights of sailors. It declares that seamen who are injured during their employment can seek damages from their employers if the injuries are the result of negligence by the owner, captain, or other crew members of the ship. It should be noted that the Jones Act only legislates on injured worker’s compensation in cases of negligence: if injuries are sustained because of the unseaworthiness of the vessel, sailors have other venues through which to seek compensation. The basic intent of the Jones Act is to maintain and protect the American merchant marine, and to make sure that all of the ships used to transport governmental or military supplies are thoroughly inspected. Critics of the Jones Act claim that its restrictions cause the expense of shipping within the United States to be exorbitant. The federal government, however, believes the act continues to provide necessary protection for the American shipping industry.


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