VIDEO: Keel laid for first in new training ship series

Written by Nick Blenkey
Steinar Nerbovik

“Welcome to the world’s best shipyard, where we will build the best school ships in the world,” Steinar Nerbovik, President and CEO of Philly Shipyard told guests at keel laying ceremony.

A keel laying ceremony held at Philly Shipyard today marked a significant construction milestone ceremony for the first of up to five new purpose built, state-of-the-art training vessels for America’s state maritime academies.

The new vessels—known as National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMVs)—are designed to provide world-class training for America’s future mariners and to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.

The first NSMV is scheduled to be delivered to SUNY Maritime College in 2023.

“Today’s first NSMV keel laying is a critical milestone in an innovative effort that is producing state-of-the-art vessels in an American shipyard that will both train the next generation of American mariners and provide a new disaster response capability for the nation,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “We commend everyone who is working hard to keep this effort on schedule and on budget, and we look forward to the final delivery of the first ship.”

“As part of shipbuilding tradition, the keel laying ceremony invites good luck in the construction and life of a ship as the first prefabricated block is lowered into the building dock,” said Steinar Nerbovik, president and CEO of Philly Shipyard. “Today, represents a momentous achievement in U.S. maritime education and a significant investment in the local economy and job creation.”

The NSMV is an important investment in America’s shipbuilding industry. Each NSMV will be built using 7,000 metric tons of steel produced by U.S. mills and fabricated by skilled labor. The first of four main generator engines, manufactured by Wabtec Corp. in Grove City, Pa., recently arrived at the shipyard and will be lowered into the hull in the first quarter of 2022.


The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) selected TOTE Services to be the vessel construction manager (VCM) for the NSMV program in May 2019 to ensure the utilization of best practices in commercial ship construction. TOTE Services, which will oversee development of these new vessels, awarded Philly Shipyard a contract to construct up to five NSMVs. These ships will be owned and operated by MARAD.

“TOTE Services’ contract with MARAD demonstrates a new acquisition process to federal shipbuilding, where the government benefits from commercial best practices to design and construct vessels that are built by union labor in a U.S. shipyard with U.S.-made steel and U.S.- made engines,” said TOTE Services President Jeff Dixon. “Our aim is straight – we’re committed to the success of this program and to delivering these vessels for MARAD, so that our future cadets have the modern training platforms they deserve.”

Congress has appropriated funding to replace aging training vessels at SUNY Maritime College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy and Texas A&M Maritime Academy, respectively. TOTE Services retains an option for a fifth NSMV for the California State University Maritime Academy, if additional funding is appropriated by Congress.

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