Military Sealift Command (MSC) is a two-star Navy command and the largest employer of merchant mariners in the U.S.

MSC controls the replenishment and military transport of Navy ships and has the responsibility for providing sealift and ocean transportation for all U.S. military services as well as for other government agencies.

MSC depends on the maritime industry to supply its needs as far as boats and ships — both new and repair — mariners and equipment are concerned.

The agency spent $1.2 billion in fiscal 2023 on small businesses. “And I would say there’s more opportunity for small businesses in subcontracting,” Leah Baker, MSC’s director, Office of Small Business Command, told the audience during the conference session “U.S. Navy: Military Sealift Command — Ship Inventory Overview, Shipyard Repair Needs, Challenges & Opportunities” at the International WorkBoat Show on Friday. “My number one piece of advice would be to do your homework” before applying for MSC contracts.

Marcin Krauze, MSC contract specialist, said that following each contract’s completion, MSC sits down with officials from the shipyard that did the work and does a hotwash. “We talk about what was good, what was bad,” he said, “and they tell us what worked for them and what didn’t.”

He said the whole process is a real team effort. “You are the industry and definitely have more knowledge,” he said. “We value the insight you give us. We need you guys, and you need us.”

Baker and Krauze have more information available for those who want to do business with MSC. You can contact Leah Baker at [email protected] 

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.