What’s in the Biden budget for maritime?

Written by Nick Blenkey
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MARAD budget request includes $315.6 million to complete NSMV program/

The Biden administration has released its FY 2022 budget request. For many in the U.S. maritime industry, among the most significant programs to look at are those administered by the Department of Transportation.

The DOT is requesting $88 billion, but only just under $2 billion of this is requested for the Maritime Administration (MARAD), which is somewhat of the Cinderella of DOT agencies, but manages to punch above its weight in terms of what its programs deliver.

Among things to note in the FY 2022 MARAD budget are a request for $315.6 million to complete the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel school ship replacement program and creation of a new Tanker Security Program. And the fact that anything at all has been requested for the Title XI loan guarantee program could be a hopeful sign.


The actual request for MARAD is $1,171.5 million. Here’s how it breaks down and how it compares with prior years:


$172.2 million is requested to support the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., and MARAD Operations and Programs. Within this amount:

MARAD is requesting $90.5 million for Kings Point. Funding will provide $85 million for academic operating expenses including continued support for health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19, and $5.5 million for facility maintenance and repair needs of the academy’s aging buildings and infrastructure.

$81.7 million is requested for MARAD Operations and Programs to provide the resources to support core agency infrastructure, including professional staff for its operating mission and support program initiatives, and for continued implementation of COVID-19 safety and protection measures on DOT/MARAD-owned assets. Within this request, $10 million will support the Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance (META) program that advances alternative energies and technologies, while also supporting job growth in clean energy and maritime transportation fields.

Marine Highway Grants

Funding also provides $10.8 million for Marine Highway Transportation grants to support the increased use, development, and expansion of America’s navigable waterways and landside infrastructure to enable the movement of freight by water, reducing highway congestion and associated emissions.

State Maritime Academy (SMA) Operations

$358.3 million is requested to provide Federal assistance to support the six SMAs that educate and train mariners who will become future leaders in the U.S. maritime transportation industry, and will be needed to meet future job requirements in the U.S. maritime workforce.

National Security Multi-Mission Vessel

$315.6 million is requested to complete the replacement of aging training school ships on loan to the SMAs. The new NSMVs also provide significant new capabilities to support National humanitarian and disaster relief needs.

School Ship Maintenance and Repair

$30.5 million is requested to maintain the six existing SMA training ships in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping requirements while the NSMVs are constructed, and to enable continued implementation of training ship capacity-sharing measures to ensure uninterrupted availability of mandatory at-sea training time for SMA cadets. MARAD notes that the training ships are the single most important assets provided by the Federal Government to enable the schools to operate as maritime academies, and are essential to each school’s ability to provide a training program that prepares students to pass the U.S. Coast Guard licensing examination.

Direct Support of SMAs

$12.2 million is requested to support the SMAs, which includes $6 million in direct payments to the schools, $2.4 million for student tuition assistance, and $3.8 million for training ship fuel assistance.

Port Infrastructure Development Program

$230 million is requested for the Port Infrastructure Development Program for grants to improve port infrastructure and facilities, and to stimulate economic growth in and around ports, while also addressing climate and equity and strengthening resiliency. Investing in the repair and modernization of ports creates good paying union jobs for American workers, and helps transform our deteriorating infrastructure into a 21st century system that supports efficiency in our freight supply chains, creates more communities of opportunity in disadvantaged areas, accelerates equitable long-term economic growth, and increases global competitiveness.

Assistance to Small Shipyards

$20 million is requested to provide grant funding for infrastructure improvements at qualified small U.S. shipyards to help improve their efficiency and ability to compete for domestic and international commercial ship construction and maintenance opportunities. Small shipyard grants support the acquisition of equipment by small shipyards that reduces climate impacts, including engines with lower emissions, improved climate control technologies for buildings, and technologies that reduce shipyard power consumption. Additionally, investing in shipbuilding supports job creation in a vital domestic industrial base.

Ship Disposal

$10 million is requested for the Ship Disposal Program, with priority emphasis on the removal of the worst conditioned non-retention vessels to mitigate environmental risks. Funding will also help to sustain the unique infrastructure of the U.S. ship recycling industry base, including supporting American jobs in economically depressed areas. This funding also includes $3 million to maintain the Nuclear Ship Savannah (NSS) in protective storage per Nuclear Regulatory Commission license requirements, while decommissioning of the vessel’s defueled nuclear reactor, components, and equipment is in progress.

Maritime Guaranteed Loan (Title XI) Program

$3 million is requested to support administrative costs necessary to manage the current loan guarantee portfolio of the Title XI program, as well as new loan agreements. The Title XI program helps to promote the growth and modernization of the U.S. shipyard industry by providing additional opportunities for vessel construction and modernization, to include repowering, that may otherwise be unavailable to ship owners.

Maritime Security Program

$318 million is requested for the Maritime Security Program (MSP) to maintain a viable commercial fleet of vessels that can support a U.S. presence in foreign commerce, while also meeting the Nation’s need for sustained military sealift capacity. Funding requested in FY 2022 will enable MSP operators and vessels to remain competitive in the global marketplace. MSP provides the United States the ability to transfer critical military equipment and supplies by sea during times of conflict, National emergencies, or other contingency situations.

This funding also provides a global network of critical capabilities, including intermodal facilities to unload and transport the cargo on the ground to final destinations. The MSP supports and contributes to the expansion of the merchant mariner base, providing employment for approximately 2,400 U.S. merchant mariners who crew the U.S. Government-owned surge sealift fleet, as well as up to 5,000 additional shore-side workers. Additionally, vessels operating in the MSP support climate resiliency as they are required to have a recapitalization cycle for replacing vessels participating in the program with newer, more efficient ships, that consume less fuel per ton/mile while emitting fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Tanker Security Program

$60 million is requested for a new Tanker Security Program to address the urgent and critical national security requirements for U.S.-flag product tankers to support our deployed Armed Forces in contingency operations and provide a global network of distribution capabilities. Funding will support militarily useful, commercially viable, product tankers engaged in international trade and provide assured access to these vessels and global networks in times of crisis. The new Tanker Security Program will create and sustain U.S. mariner jobs, and support economic security and global competitiveness by lowering reliance on foreign-flag tankers.

FHWA Ferry Boat Program

Outside of MARAD, tucked away in the $46.3 billion Federal Highways Administration FHWA budget is an $80 request for ferry boat programs that provide vital connections on the network of Federal-aid highways.

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