Louisiana ships waiting to bring aid to Puerto Rico

Boats in Port Fourchon are ready to bring supplies to Puerto Rico, but they can't head that way just yet because of governmental regulations.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy is asking the president to utilize dozens of Louisiana ships to aid Puerto Rico.

So far, the ships are docked and waiting, but the order to help has not come. One boat controlled by Offshore Marine Service Association has everything needed to help the relief effort in Puerto Rico.

"They have 250 metric pound cranes, that can help transfer materials from this vessel to other vessels. They can transfer portable water and some cargo,” Robert Vosbein, executive president, said.

The boats also offer food, medical supplies and beds.

“130 without the crew. 150 with the crew,” Vosbein said.

Operators say there is one thing that keep life saving supplies from the people who need it most.

"Government red tape seems to be the biggest problem,” he said.

Vosbein said FEMA is not contracting directly with vessel operators, leaving boats docked in Southeast Louisiana instead of on their way to help in Puerto Rico.

"It's frustrating to us and other people in Louisiana that we have the vessels needed and are ready to pitch in,” he said.

Senator Cassidy wrote a letter to President Trump making him aware of fleets in Louisiana available to Puerto Rico. So far vessel operators have yet to hear back from the president.

"We'd like to see the government cooperate a little more and reach out. It just becomes political.”

While many praised Trump’s decision to wave the Jones Act, allowing foreign ships quicker access to Puerto Rico, Vosbein says a lack of American ships was never the issue. He says the issue is FEMA contracts not utilizing the American ships we already have.

"Reach out and contact the vessel operators so we can do our share,” he said.

Until then, Vosbein will be waiting and the ships will be here.

“You're so close to being able to help but not there."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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