On Tuesday, the final day before the transition to a new administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) gave the green light for the next two hulls in the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) training ship series. They will replace aging training vessels at Maine Maritime Academy and Texas A&M.
MARAD has already authorized the construction of the first two NSMVs, which are destined for SUNY Maritime College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Congress approved funding for the third and fourth NSMVs in December.
“The NSMV is part of a strategy to bolster maritime education, revitalize U.S. shipbuilding, and provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the U.S. maritime industry,” said Doug Burnett, the chief counsel of MARAD, who is acting in lieu of the Maritime Administrator. “America must be a maritime nation if it is to continue to lead the world in this century.”
The NSMV is a new class of purpose-built ships to provide for the replacement of the current training ships at the State Maritime Academies. The five-ship series will be primarily used to meet regulatory requirements for training standards and to offer at-sea training experience. The NSMV will feature multiple instructional spaces, a full training bridge and space for up to 600 cadets.
Along with serving as an educational platform, the NSMV will also be available for response to national and international disasters – a role that the last generation of training ships has filled many times. In this function, the NSMV can provide hospital facilities, a helicopter landing pad, and berthing for up to 1,000 first responders and recovery workers. The vessel’s ro/ro ramp and crane will allow it to offload supplies at damaged port facilities.
In a unique arrangement, TOTE Services was selected by MARAD to choose a shipyard and oversee the detailed design, construction, testing and delivery of the vessel. In April 2020, TOTE awarded the contract to Philly Shipyard, which had recently run through the last of its commercial shipbuilding backlog. Philly has rehired staff for the NSMV program, and it cut steel for the first ship in the series last month. NSMV is expected to support 1,200 jobs at Philly Shipyard for years to come.
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