TOTE Services LLC, an affiliate of TOTE LLC and Philly Shipyard Inc., the sole operating subsidiary of Philly Shipyard ASA today marked a significant construction milestone at a keel laying ceremony for the second of five new purpose built, state-of-the-art training vessels for America’s state maritime academies. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (Marad) new vessel program — known as National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMVs) — was designed to provide world-class training for the U.S.’s future mariners and to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.
The keel laying is a ceremonial recognition in which the first grand block of the vessel is loaded into the building dock. Keel laying traditions are said to bring good luck to the ship during construction and to the captain and crew that will sail on the vessel throughout her operating life. The second NSMV is scheduled to be delivered to Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2024.
“We are proud to host Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the Patriot State’s keel laying ceremony, which continues a long-standing shipbuilding tradition where the first prefabricated block — known as the keel — is lowered into the building dock and coins are placed as a gesture of good luck in the construction and life of a ship,” Steinar Nerbovik, president and CEO of Philly Shipyard, said in a statement announcing the keel laying. “This milestone event gives us the chance to reflect on the continued success of the NSMV program as well as the future of maritime education in Buzzards Bay.”
The NSMV is an important investment in America’s shipbuilding industry, which supports nearly 400,000 U.S. jobs. Each NSMV will feature numerous instructional spaces, a full training bridge, and accommodations for up to 600 cadets to train in a first-rate maritime academic environment at sea. State maritime academies graduate more than half of all new officers each year — the merchant mariners who help keep cargoes and our economy moving. Many also support U.S. national security by crewing military sealift vessels.
“TOTE Services is proud to join leaders of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and its cadets to celebrate this incredible milestone that is the keel laying of NSMV-II,” said TOTE Services President Jeff Dixon. “Once delivered, this vessel will provide a best-in-class platform to ensure our nation’s future maritime
officers get the instructional training they need to continue leading our nation’s merchant marine, keep cargoes moving, and support our national security by crewing military sealift vessels.”
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 is overseeing development of these new vessels, which will provide a strong U.S. maritime fleet, crewed by the world’s best trained merchant mariners. In April 2020, TOTE Services awarded Philly Shipyard a contract to construct up to five NSMVs. These ships will be owned and operated by Marad.
“The keel laying ceremony is an event that never gets old, and this one was especially meaningful, given the future intended use of the Patriot State,” said Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “The NSMVs are historic for all of the state maritime academies and will offer needed training platforms for the next generation of mariners, as well as serve as essential support vessels in times of disaster or distress. We are honored that the Massachusetts Maritime Academy has been designated as the recipient of this vessel and are incredibly grateful for the commitment it shows to our future mariners.”
Congress has appropriated funding to replace aging training vessels at SUNY Maritime College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Texas A&M Maritime Academy and California State University Maritime, respectively.
Last week, NSMV 1 — Empire State — was launched giving way in the building drydock for NSMV 2 — Patriot State. The launch marks the first time the vessel was floated as it moved to the outfitting drydock for the remainder of the construction process. Empire State will be completed and delivered to SUNY Maritime College in 2023.