The Maritime Administration (Marad) announced this week that TOTE Services LLC has awarded a contract to  Philly Shipyard Inc. to build the newest class of training ship — the 524'5"x88'7"x55' national security multimission vessel (NSMV).

The Philadelphia-based shipyard will build up to five new ships, with 21'4" drafts, to provide world-class maritime training for the U.S.’s future mariners and to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in times of need.

In May 2019, TOTE Services contracted with Marad as the vessel construction manager to deliver up to five NSMVs. This occurred after Congress required that the NSMVs would be procured using commercial design and build practices. Following construction and delivery of the ships to TOTE, the vessels will be transferred to Marad to further their mission of training future licensed mariners at state maritime academies and responding to humanitarian and natural disasters for the U.S.

Along with serving as an educational and training platform, the diesel-electric powered (four main engines in two engine rooms with a total installed power of about 19,260 hp) NSMV will also be available to support federal government efforts in response to national and international disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. In this role as a National Defense Reserve Fleet ((NDRF) vessel, the NSMV will incorporate medical capabilities, a command and control platform, and berthing for up to 1,000 first responders and recovery workers. The vessel’s roll-on/roll-off ramp and crane to facilitate container storage capabilities will enable it to provide critical support equipment and supplies to those in need.

“This new world class vessel, constructed at an American shipyard, is part of our much-needed program to replace the aging training vessels currently operated by state maritime academies,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, said in a statement announcing the contract.

Maneuverability will be enhanced by flap rudders, a sternthruster and bowthruster with “take home” power. Each ship will have a range of 11,000 miles at 18 knots. (As with the main engines, equipment manufacturers have yet to be announced.)

The NSMV will help to sustain world-class, U.S. maritime training operations at the state maritime academies by equipping young U.S. mariners with the most modern and adaptable training platform. The NSMV will feature numerous instructional spaces and a full training bridge and have space for up to 600 cadets to train in a first-rate maritime academic environment at sea.

“Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby. “By the selection of Philly Shipyard, as the construction shipyard for the NSMV, this effort is not only bolstering the U.S. Merchant Marine, but the U.S. economy and vital transportation infrastructure as well.”

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.