US-flag domestic carrier Pasha Hawaii said a former Horizon Lines ship that was pulled from layup to move hurricane relief and reconstruction cargo to Puerto Rico has ended its temporary deployment after eight round trips between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan.
The Horizon Spirit, a 37-year-old container ship, has returned to the US West Coast and will be used in Pasha’s West Coast-Hawaii service as a substitute for the Horizon Reliance, which will undergo its regular maintenance drydocking.
Pasha said US-flag domestic vessel capacity between the US mainland and Puerto Rico now is sufficient for the trade’s regular carriers. Crowley, TOTE Maritime, and Trailer Bridge are the main carriers in the trade, which the Jones Act cabotage law restricts to US-flag, US-built vessels owned and crewed by US citizens.
The Horizon Spirit is one of several old steam-powered vessels that Pasha acquired when it took over Horizon Lines’ West Coast-Hawaii service after Horizon’s breakup at the end of 2015. Pasha is building two liquefied natural gas–powered ships to replace its older vessels.
Puerto Rico’s humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Maria renewed debate over the Jones Act, whose critics claimed US-flag restrictions were delaying relief supplies. President Donald Trump granted a temporary waiver of the law, but waiver was allowed to expire after 10 days.
Jones Act supporters noted that post-hurricane supply chain problems were due to backlogs at Puerto Rico’s ports and inland networks, not a shortage of Jones Act tonnage. They also noted that the act does not prohibit non-US-flag ships from serving Puerto Rico from other countries.
Pasha Hawaii deployed the Horizon Spirit to Puerto Rico last Oct. 21 to help meet demand for Jones Act capacity after Hurricane Maria devastated the commonwealth. The vessels’ first shipment carried bottled water for Federal Emergency Management Agency contractor Lipsey Mountain Spring Water.
The Horizon Spirit carried a total of 8,000 laden containers to Puerto Rico for Crowley and TOTE, and returned 5,300 empty containers to the mainland.
“This partnership of domestic carriers coming together quickly to serve the needs of the country is a testament to the strength and necessity of the Jones Act,” said George Pasha IV, president and CEO of Pasha Hawaii. “We are grateful to be able to help our fellow Americans in time of crisis, and continue to hold the people of Puerto Rico in our hearts as they continue to recover and rebuild.”