The latest information on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is available on For USDOT-specific COVID-19 resources, please visit our page.


You are here








SEPT. 26, 2018


Good morning and thank you for coming.

You all know what we’re here today for. The FY 2018 budget includes $300 million to support the replacement of outdated training ships at our state maritime academies.

The president’s FY 19 budget contains another $300 million for a second ship.  We’ll see what congress says about that number once we get a budget.  So we are likely talking about multiple ships here.

Today we are facing a critical shortage of U.S. merchant mariners needed to crew the commercial and government-owned sealift ships for national security, and quality training of our maritime workforce is a core part of our mission to meet that need.

Investment in school ship replacement is a proven and essential means of fostering growth in the nation’s mariner workforce, as a big part of that is “at sea” training.

For the state maritime academies which use the school ship training model, that training should be held aboard the type of modern, technologically advanced vessels used today in the commercial maritime trade. Unfortunately, our current school ships are aging and outdated.

To begin to rectify this, we are going to build a new class of vessel – the NSMV – to help us sustain the world-class maritime sea training our future mariners require.

The 2017 national defense authorization act directed MARAD to award a contract to an “entity other than MARAD” to actually contract for the building of the ship. This will be the “Vessel Construction Manager,” or “VCM.”

This “VCM” will be tasked with performing whatever due diligence is needed to select and contract with a qualified U.S. shipyard to build this vessel according to standard industry best practices.

We recently issued a draft request for proposals, and you’ve all seen that.
Our next step is to develop a final RFP, and this meeting is a key part of that process.

I can tell you that Secretary Elaine L. Chao is a huge supporter of our entire mariner workforce and we have her full support on this project … and full interest – as I have to report weekly on “how goes it.”  Sometimes those briefings are tough!

We want your feedback.  This event will help us bridge the information gap between government agencies and interested parties for a potential contract. You are here to provide insight, comments and expertise to help us revise and refine our final request.

I assure you we will listen very carefully to your comments and suggestions as we work to develop that final product.

So, I encourage all of you to be open and honest with us. Your input is very important and we encourage you to provide us information we may not know, or circumstances we may have overlooked.

We are on a very aggressive schedule here – no question about it – and understanding all of the risks on the table and how we are going to mitigate them is a big focus of ours – and mine in particular.

Ask questions, offer constructive criticism and, by all means, bring us the full range of your open, honest, diversified experience and opinion.

Today is a significant beginning for a very important and historic process, so thank you again for your willingness to be a part of it.

By the time we finish building out the training fleet – however many ships that ends up being – we will have made a strong investment in the future of our industry.

Let’s get started bending steel.

Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018