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As Prepared: Maritime Administrator Keel Laying NSMV II Speech

Thursday, September 29, 2022






On behalf of the Maritime Administration, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and the Biden-Harris Administration, I am so pleased to be here today as we lay the keel for the second National Security Multi-Mission Vessel.  

It is rather astounding to think that only 9 months ago, Deputy Administrator Lucinda Lessley stood here congratulating you on laying the keel for the EMPIRE STATE—and now she has already been launched!  

I have watched with amazement the rapid construction of the EMPIRE STATE, and can’t wait to see all the blocks around us on the dock assembled into the PATRIOT STATE, which will be delivered in early 2024. 

Like the Deputy Administrator did on December 10, 2021, I want to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into making the NSMV a reality.  

I also want to thank all of you for joining us today in this historic shipyard in this historic city as we get ready to build another historic ship! 

I also want to thank Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon for honoring us with her presence today—as she did in December—and for all of her incredible work in the Congress in support of this effort. 

I also thank Rear Admiral Fran McDonald (Mass Maritime) for his leadership—and I thank Admiral Mike Alfultis, who leads SUNY Maritime College; and Steven Browne, who represents Cal Maritime, for joining us as well. 

I am also grateful for MARAD’s contracted Vessel Construction Manager, TOTE Services, led by President Jeff Dixon; and of course, Philly Shipyard, led by President Steinar Nerbovik. 

Let me say how incredibly proud I am of the MARAD team members who have worked on this program for many years.  They have helped create a revolutionary model for ship construction in the United States, and have managed an astounding volume of details and decisions to bring us to this point.   

In the Navy, I was the commissioning Commanding Officer of USS MUSTIN, and I know just how complex a ship construction effort is.  It takes incredible organization, attention to detail, and pure grit to keep such work on time, on budget, and with the standard of quality this ship clearly displays.   

In order to deliver this ship, a joint program team was established to execute the program.  That team includes our Program Office, ship operations, schoolship program staff, naval architects, acquisition professionals, acquisition attorneys, financial office, and public affairs.   

There are too many to mention today by name.  While some have moved on, most are still working on NSMV and other critical projects at MARAD, and I commend and recognize each of them for their extraordinary service.  Each of them should be deeply proud of what we are accomplishing here!  

The work of these professionals, as well as the leadership and support of so many in the Congress and across the Nation, has enabled us to reach this milestone as well as the launching of NSMV I.   

Without a doubt, the NSMV will revolutionize mariner education at our State Maritime Academies.   

Each NSMV includes state-of-the-art multi-purpose classrooms, equipment simulators, and a separate engineering control room and training bridge.   

The classrooms labs include equipment that provides hands-on training and skills development required for mariner licensing. 

These ships will be the envy of every seagoing nation—and they will help prepare many of our next generation of mariners for the challenges and technology evolutions they will meet in the vibrant maritime industry. 

These NSMVs will also be highly functional national assets. In addition to being educational platforms, the State-class vessels are designed to support the federal response to national disasters such as hurricanes and humanitarian crises.   

We have already been conducting planning meetings with FEMA and USAID offices to help them understand the enhanced capabilities that NSMV will provide support in times of national emergencies.   

These ships have enhanced medical facilities, helicopter landing pads, roll-on/roll-off ramps, and the ability to berth up to 1,000 people in times of need—and all of these capabilities can be put to use to meet the urgent needs of those in harm’s way.  

NSMV is also unique in that we are using commercial best practices to design, build, and manage with TOTE as the Vessel Construction Manager.   

The use of the commercial shipbuilding business model is saving American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and several years in development and construction time.   

This new innovative approach taken by MARAD, using the best of commercial ship procurement processes, has delivered a firm fixed price contract and firm fixed delivery schedule at an average program cost of $322 million per ship. 

And the ships are being built to American Bureau of Ships (ABS), Coast Guard, and SOLAS requirements.   

This commercial business model and our competitive and streamlined process can be used in the future by other federal entities to procure ships in a way that reduces risk to the U.S. Government and mitigates the potential for cost overruns and unnecessary delays.   

I can also tell you that leaders in Washington are taking note of what’s happening here—and the lessons that the example of the NSMV can teach our nation about shipbuilding. 

As I close, let me know that I appreciated reading that, quote, “Massachusetts Maritime Academy is the ideal college to pursue the love for the ocean, concern for the environment, interest in math and science, and a thirst for adventure.” 

I can affirm that the NSMV will be the ideal ship in which future mariners can advance these pursuits! 

Thank you for your support and your work!