The proposed 2016 federal budget included funding for the design of new multi-mission vessels that will serve as training ships for the nation’s state maritime academies, including the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College.
President Barack Obama’s $4 trillion proposed budget, released on Monday, included a line item of $5 million for the design of the National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMV) as part of the Department of Transportation budget
“We are delighted that the president has included funds in the 2016 federal budget for the design of the NSMVs that will serve as training vessels for future generations of merchant mariners and be available to support other national missions such as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance,” said SUNY Maritime College president Rear Adm. Michael A. Alfultis. “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of our congressional partners, particularly Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Joseph Crowley of New York, and Congressman Joseph Courtney of Connecticut for their efforts in seeing that design funds were included in the President’s budget.”
According to SUNY Maritime, aging training vessels has become a serious issue facing the nation’s state maritime academies, noting the average age of the ships is 35 years and SUNY Maritime’s Empire State VI is 52 years old. Congress will soon consider a proposal by the Maritime Administration for a programmatic approach to replacing the vessels.
“President Obama has shown tremendous leadership with his support of SUNY Maritime’s fleet, which is essential to the college’s applied learning and STEM programs, and has helped the college become a national leader in maritime job training,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “Congratulations to President Alfultis and to the entire Maritime campus community on securing this long-sought funding for the repair and replacement of its ships, and thank you to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand as well as Congressman Crowley for their support.”
The Unites States’ six state maritime academies. located in California, Michigan, Texas, Massachusetts, Maine and New York, produce more than 70 percent of the new, U.S. licensed officers each year. With an aging maritime industry workforce the Department of Labor expects demand for mariners to grow as the existing workforce reaches retirement. Without a new generation of vessels, the SMAs will not have sufficient means by which to meet this growing demand.
The NSMVs will be designed as multi-mission assets, both for humanitarian and disaster relief, as well as training ships. The vessels would be funded and built over time through the Department of Transportation/ U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) budget. The state maritime academy vessels are essential for federal humanitarian and disaster relief efforts. In 2012, the training ships for Massachusetts Maritime Academy and SUNY Maritime College housed
disaster relief workers for an extended period during the Hurricane Sandy clean-up effort. These vessels also have been used for international humanitarian missions and to support Department of Defense missions.
The building of these ships will provide U.S. shipyards with much-needed work as existing shipyards are faced with fewer government contracts and extremely competitive foreign shipyards. It will help maintain U.S. shipbuilding capacity and the associated skilled workforce critical to national defense and our economy.