I have been working on ships for almost 19 years and hold a USCG ETO (electro technical officer) endorsement. Most of my career has been spent on pipeLay and heavy lift type vessels.

Since 2008, I have noticed considerable difficulties for U.S. workers to find jobs in the Gulf of Mexico even though I constantly see job ads on LinkedIn. But most requests are for crew already holding B-1 OCS visas (granted to non-U.S. citizens that work on foreign-owned or -operated vessels located in the Outer Continental Shelf). There seems to be no limit to how many jobs in the offshore construction industry that are being lost, because they are being awarded to foreign companies with almost entirely foreign crews because it is cheaper.  

Almost every single job in the U.S. — doctors, lawyers, bus drivers, police officers, airplane pilots, school teachers, etc. — could be done cheaper by bringing in outsourced labor from other countries. But where do we draw the line and say enough is enough? Many other countries I have worked in require that a high percentage of the positions are filled by their own citizens, for example, in Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia and China.

Thank you for giving me a chance to express my thoughts and opinion. I support the Jones Act and hope that it can be strengthened to bring back the offshore jobs to U.S. mariners.

Shane Clark is a Milton, Fla.-based electro technical officer. An ETO is a licensed member of the engine department who monitors all onboard electronic and electrical equipment.