FEBRUARY 5, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Transportation's 2016 budget request includes $70 million for ferry and ferry terminal construction in the Federal Highway Administration request, up modestly from the $67 million actually funded in 2015. Another $30 million for ferry boat construction also looks to be buried as a line item in the Federal Transit Authority's request for Urbanized Area Formula Grants.
The DOT's largest maritime funding request is, though, the $406.8 million sought for the U.S. Maritime Administration.
A new item on the MarAd wish list: $5 million of the $34.6 million requested for support of State Maritime Academy (SMA) training ships is for planning and design of a National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) to support training at State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College.
The average age of all training ships is 37 years old and the ships will require extensive renovations to remain seaworthy. The initial focus is on replacement of the 53-year-old TS Empire State operated by SUNY Maritime, which will reach the end of its service life in 2019.
Once constructed and operational, the new NSMV ship will be readily available for deployment to support requirements for national security, as well as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) emergency and humanitarian missions.
The NSMV request is part of an overall Operations and Training (O&T) request of $184.6 million ($36.6 million above FY 2015) that includes $96.0 million for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), $34.6 million for the SMAs, and $54.1 million for MARAD Operations and Programs.
For the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY, the request is $96.0 million ($16.9 million above FY 2015). Of this, $71.3 million is requested for Academy Operations,( $7.2 million above FY 2015 and includes an increase of $3.5 million for necessary upgrades to the Academy's simulator program and such things as funding to support Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) initiatives to continue sexual assault prevention.
The FY 2016 Budget requests $24.7 million for priority USMMA capital improvement projects (CIP) and necessary facilities maintenance, repairs and equipment (FMRE) requirements. CIP priorities include Gibbs and Melville Hall Architecture and Engineering Designs, Gibbs Hall renovation, and Fulton Hall Architecture and Engineering Design.
OPERATIONS AND PROGRAMS
For FY 2016, a total of $54.1 million is requested for MARAD Operations and Programs, an increase of $3.7 million above the FY 2015.
The request includes $50.1 million for Headquarters Operations program support requirements and $4 million for energy and environmental technology initiatives supporting the Maritime Environment and Technology Assistance Program, designed to enhance maritime sustainability and affordability.
The FY 2016 program will build upon ongoing FY 2015 initiatives, focusing on areas such as reducing air pollution from vessel and port operations, invasive species control through ballast water and underwater hull husbandry, improved and diversified marine propulsion systems and increased energy efficiency at sea.
For FY 2016, $8 million is requested for the Ship Disposal program, a $4.0 million increase over FY 2015. This request includes $5 million to support continuing obsolete vessel disposal actions with priority emphasis on disposing of the worst condition non-retention National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) vessels in MARAD's three reserve fleet sites. This budget request reflects the current projection that the Ship Disposal account will not have a carryover of funding from previous appropriations. This request also includes $3.0 million to maintain the Nuclear Ship SAVANNAH in protective storage.
MARITIME SECURITY PROGRAM
The FY 2016 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 within the MSP account for a new initiative aimed at mitigating the impact on mariner jobs and certain vessels resulting from proposed program reform to P.L. 480 Title II food aid. This new initiative will provide direct support to vessel operators to preserve mariner employment on U.S. flag vessels and identify other measures to encourage retention of U.S. mariners and vessels, separate from the Maritime Security Program.
MARITIME GUARANTEED LOAN PROGRAM (TITLE XI)
The FY 2016 Budget requests $3.1 million to support salaries and expenses related to Title XI loan portfolio administration.
MARAD currently has $42.8 million in available loan subsidy funds sufficient to support approximately $428 million in Title XI loan guarantees. MARAD anticipates approving three additional loan guarantee applications with the remaining available subsidy during FY 2015. One application is already approved and anticipated to require approximately $550,000 of subsidy. Additionally, two pending Title XI applications are under review to build two vessels, and reconstruct two other vessels to allow them to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).
SMALL SHIPYARD GRANTS
There is no request for funding for grants to small shipyards. However, the request for MARAD Headquarters operations includes $210,000 "to conduct an objective and rigorous net impact evaluation in FY 2016 of the Assistance to Small Shipyards grants program."