California-based National Shipping of America (NSA) announced last week the launch of a Jones Act compliant container shuttle from Houston to San Juan of Puerto Rico, which is now about to start. The single-ship service will cover one round-trip in 14 days and will offer fortnightly departures from each port.
NSA will deploy the owned US-flagged 570 teu container vessel NATIONAL GLORY, which has reached Houston on 18 May. For the past five years, the ship had been chartered to APL who employed it on a US-flag Baltic feeder from the German ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven to Tallinn-Muuga until recently.
The management of NSA said that it studied the market carefully and found that shippers west of the Mississippi River were looking for a connection to Puerto Rico without having to go through the US East Coast ports. A fortnightly service between Houston and Puerto Rico is already offered by Horizon Lines. While Hapag-Lloyd’s GCS also offers weekly sailings between the two ports as part of a wider rotation, the service’s non-US flagged ships are not eligible to carry cargo between the US mainland and Puerto Rico under the Jones Act regulations.
Jones act ships must be US-built and US-flagged to qualify for intra-USA cargo transport. Interestingly the Polish-built NATIONAL GLORY only qualifies as a Jones Act vessel since she was seized and confiscated in a 2008 drug raid by the US Governement and later auctioned off to US buyers.
Ironically, this made the ship eligible for the Jones Act trade!