U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta and Maritime Administrator Bill Schubert today announced that Industrial Maritime Carriers
will transfer a Challenger Class heavy-lift vessel from the Bahamian flag to the U.S. flag. The 8,000 DWT vessel has two 200 metric ton electro-hydraulic cranes, a service speed of 16 knots and is ideally suited for project and heavy lift cargo.
The M/V INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER is the latest ship to benefit from an agreement between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration
(MARAD) that significantly reduces the time required to reflag certain vessels into the U.S. registry.
"The addition of heavy-lift capacity to the U.S.-flag fleet will be a valuable asset to the U. S. military during war or national emergencies through assured access provided by the VISA program," said Secretary Mineta. "The reflagging of the INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER is a positive development and highlights new considerations American companies are making concerning the viability of the U.S.-flag vessel operations as a result of current domestic and international events."
Vessels, like the M/V INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER, that want to be added to the U.S.-flag fleet are required to obtain a Certificate of Inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard. MARAD has an agreement with the Coast Guard that expedites this certification if the Secretary determines that the vessel is eligible for the Coast Guard’s Alternative Compliance Program. Since the M/V INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER meets Maritime Security Program requirements without participating in the program, it can use this streamlined procedure to expedite its U.S.-flag certification. The vessel is expected to be reflagged in December or early January.
Maritime Administrator Bill Schubert added, "The reflagging of the INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER is exciting news for the U.S.-flag fleet and we encourage other carriers to utilize resources MARAD can provide them. Industrial Maritime Carriers has identified a need for US-flag breakbulk/heavylift service in our expanding trade with South America and the change to the U.S. flag further highlights the importance of the cargo preference laws which reserve a certain volume of cargo for U.S. registered vessels."
The M/V INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGER will maintain the same name under the U.S. flag and will enroll in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) program sponsored by the MARAD and approved by the Department of Defense as its principal sealift readiness program.