NEWS1130 is reporting;

Minister open to BC Ferries / WA State partnership

Could BC Ferries save money by teaming up with Washington and Alaska state ferries? It’s an idea that has been floated by the Evergreen State’s newest governor.

During his recent campaign, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee said in a policy brief that a partnership between BC Ferries and Washington State Ferries could somehow look at vessel sharing or other cost reduction measures, given how close the systems are.

The complete NEWS1130 post is here.

Jones Act background via Wikipedia


13 Responses to “Interesting, but what are the Jones Act implications?”

  1. It should be fairly easy to get an exemption to the Jones Act to operate the three ferry systems. A joint operating management company of the United States and Canada could be formed and it is already permissable for these ferrys to call at each others Ports. South Florida based foreign Flag State gambling ships sailed in and out of US Ports twice daily going on a foreign Port call every 28 days to satisfy the Jones Act Rules.

    Good Watch

    • John Chessell says:

      As such an arrangement would be between two (or three) sovereign entitles — Washington State, B.C. and Alaska — in two separate countries, in order to administer (as currently provided) a function/service of government. Can it be done by contract or must it be done by treaty? If treaty, it can’t be done at the state level.


  2. Describing these two States and a Province as “sovereign entities” is not quite correct. However the operating management corporation could be set up under contract as is done daily in international business.

    Good Watch.

  3. moravian says:

    So how would it save money? The expense is in crews and fuel for operations and the cost of preservation and new construction are the capital issues.

    I think it is a pipe dream. A blind alley that only desperation would cause WSF to consider. The regulators, construction requirements, crew training requirements are all so different from one another, the Jones Act would seem like a simple matter by comparison.

    There are a hundred major obsticles, once this vital law is breached by government cubicle dwellers.

  4. Norton Rider says:

    Wouldn’t this be as simple as the ferries stopping in the other country along the way? For example, a BC ferry could leave Bellingham, WA, stop at a port in BC on the way north, and continue to Alaska. Isn’t this what foreign flagged cruise ships already do in the northwest US?


  5. moravian says:

    Jones act covers worker injuries, nationality of the crew, where they can be repaired, the litigation associatied with seaworthiness, crews would need extended licenses, pilotage…it is a bfd.

  6. Norton Rider says:


    I understand that it is a BFD. That’s not what I’m asking.

    Cruise ships manage to get around it. I believe they do so by docking in Canada after leaving the US and before docking in Alaska. If this is correct, why can’t ferries do the same?

  7. Had to look up what “BFD” meant, generational differences no doubt !! Norton Rider is exactly correct. Was Navigation Officer on Alaska Cruises with Holland America Line (HAL). We home based for the season in Vancouver, BC then headed up the Inside Passage with two BC Pilots. At the Border we exchanged for two Southeastern Alaska Pilots and cruised the Alaska Inside Passage. After departure from Sitka, AK we sailed outside without Pilots until reentering Canadian Waters getting two BC Pilots off Dundas Is. All this was done without any problems about Jones Act Rules whatsoever.

    Good Watch.

  8. Norton Rider says:

    Capt. Boucher,
    Thanks for the explanation.


  9. Norton Rider says:

    Incidentally, here is how airlines got around similar regulations:

  10. moravian says:

    Lets talk about the price the cruise ship industry pays to have state or provincial pilots ride the boats in addition to the normal compliment of deck officers.

    In a ferry service such as this, that option is cost prohibitive. WSF can’t even afford to drive it’s ships to the shipyards, it utilizes tug services almost all of the time.

    The cruise ship you are talking about are not American flag either, they are foregin flag ships with foreign crews. Beating the Jones Act by a foreign stop in between two American ports is a completely different conversation.

    On an American vessel, bypassing the Jones Act is a BFD, it will never happen in the ferry services at the center of this discussion. And, nobody has explained how this would save money….

    The WSF Sidney route for example is a money loser, in fact all WSF service north of Mukilteo loses money. BCF is a money loser and AMH is heavily state subsidied as well.

    Take three money losers, dozens of “lifeline” routes, vastly different regulatory body issues, licensing and manning problems. I don’t see any opportunity to make them more “efficient”. This just something political fuigures say to delay the inevitable financial decision that it must make with regard to supporting WSF.

    The State of Washington would not even allow a ferry to be built in another US state to reduce it’s construction costs by 80%. Do you really think it will do a thing much more difficult with no hope of saving a fraction of that amount of money?

  11. Moravian raises some thoughtful points however for Canadian and United States Flag State vessels the use of Pilots may not be a requirement. Quoting from personal experience when I sailed as Third Officer and Second Officer in Canadian Flag State vessels I piloted the vessel myself after just a half season of training standing Watch with the vessels Chief Officer, when on Watch throughout the Inside Passage. At that time I held a British Chief Mate Foreign-going Certificate of Competency which was of course accepted by Canada as a Commonwealth Nation.

  12. Cascadia Bryan says:

    Even if you could somehow get around the Jones Act (which I’m not really in favor of) there is still the question of how it could work as a practical matter. For example, not many of the BC Ferries would fit properly in the berth in Washington. (Note the 2-level loading structures at Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, for example.) The opportunities for sharing actually seem pretty limited.

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