Offshore InjuryBlog

Aging Maritime Fleets

When it comes to aging ships, the U.S. is soon to face some serious challenges. Experts say that vessels are going to start retiring at a rate that is faster than the rate at which they can be replaced. Not only are aging ships an economic setback, but they also pose a risk to maritime workers. Offshore workers who are employed on these aging ships run a higher risk of being involved in accidents caused by poor upkeep of ship mechanics.

Factors in Aging Maritime Fleets

In its prime, the American fleet numbered nearly 1,300 ships. Today, it numbers around 166 ships. Of these ships, over 60 are at least 20 years old (which is the normal lifespan for a ship).

Two major factors in the aging American fleet are:

  • The Jones Act: One of the major factors cited in the aging of maritime fleets is the Jones Act. Established in 1920, the Jones Act essentially requires that all ships which serve domestic port routes in the United States be built and registered in the U.S. as well. Today, the U.S. only has a few shipyards that can build commercial ships. While the Jones Act serves to protect the rights of maritime employees, it also has made an impact on U.S. shipbuilding.
  • Cost of Shipbuilding: The cost of building a ship in the U.S. is nearly three times as expensive as building a ship in China, South Korea, or Japan, where the majority of global shipbuilding takes place. This is part of the reason America has a fleet with some of the oldest average ship ages.

El Faro Highlights Bigger Problems

The El Faro, a Seattle-owned cargo ship, sunk in the Caribbean with 33 people on board in the midst of Hurricane Joaquin. While further investigation indicated that the ship owners, TOTE, made poor judgment calls in directing the ship, the age of the ship was also a contributing factor to the problem. El Faro was a 40-year-old ship—nearly 4 times the worldwide average. El Faro had a history of engine problems, which ultimately led to the ship’s sinking in October 2015. This tragic event underscored the problems with the aging fleet, as well as the future problems that the U.S. will face.

Arnold & Itkin Fights for the Rights of Maritime Workers

Arnold & Itkin currently represents more U.S. families of El Faro victims than any other law firm in the U.S. Our Houston offshore injury lawyers have years of experience litigating complex cases involving tragic accidents, such as the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010. We fight to ensure that the families of offshore injury victims are taken care of for life. As the U.S. fleet continues to age, we will aggressively fight for the rights and safety of maritime workers.

To talk to one of our Houston offshore injury attorneys, fill out a free case evaluation!

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