MARCH 5, 2014 — There's nothing much to cheer in the Administration's FY 2015 budget request of $658 million for the U.S. Maritime Administration.
The budget requests $148 million to support the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), the state maritime academies (SMAs), and MARAD operations and programs. Of this, $79.4 million is requested for the USMMA, Kings Point, NY, to "continue to support the highest standards of excellence in education for the Midshipmen and to make critical capital improvements to the Academy's physical campus." Another $17.7 million is requested "to support the SMAs, including $3.6 million for direct support payments to each of the six schools, $2.4 million for student tuition support, $11.3 million for maintenance and repair of the school ships and $350 thousand for Mariner Service Compliance System." For MARAD Operations and Programs, $51.0 million is requested to provide operational support for the agency's programs. This request includes $3.0 million to maintain environmental program activities."
The FY 2015 President's Budget requests $4.8 million to support continued obsolete vessel disposal actions, with priority emphasis on the worst condition non-retention vessels in MARAD's three reserve fleet sites.
Maritime Security Program: The FY 2015 President's Budget requests $186 million for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) to ensure the maintenance of a commercial fleet capable of supporting a U.S. presence in foreign commerce, while also ensuring the military's ability to obtain assured access to these commercial vessels, intermodal facilities and mariners. The $186 million authorized level will fund $3.1 million for each of the 60 ships enrolled in the program.
Food Aid Reform: $25 million is also included as a component of reforms proposed for P.L. 480 Title II Food Assistance to mitigate the impact these reforms could have on sealift capacity and mariner jobs. If enacted, this new initiative would provide funds to preserve mariner employment on U.S.-flag vessels and identify other innovative means to encourage retention of U.S. mariners and vessels, separate from the Maritime Security Program.
Maritime Guaranteed Loan Program (Title XI): The FY 2015 President's Budget requests $3 million to maintain staff salaries and benefits for administration of the Title XI loan portfolio. That's down from the $38.5 million actually enacted in 2014.
Ready Reserve Force Transfer: The FY 2015 President's Budget reflects a direct transfer of $291 million from the Department of Defense to support the Ready Reserve Force government owned merchant ships that provide surge sealift capacity and transport Department of Defense cargo in the event of war or national emergency For 2014, $299.0 was actually enacted.
This year, again, nothing is requested for the Assistance to Small Shipyards program.