Yesterday, TOTE Services LLC and Philly Shipyard Inc. celebrated the cutting of steel for the third national security multimission vessel (NSMV) destined for the Maine Maritime Academy.

The 524'x88.6' NSMCs will have drafts of 24.6', speeds of 18 knots, and berths for 760 people. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s (Marad) NSMV program will provide purpose-built, state-of-the-art training platforms for state maritime academies in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas and California. In addition to providing world-class training for future U.S. mariners, these five NSMVs will be available to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.

The third NSMV is contracted for delivery to the Maine Maritime, Castine, Maine, by the end of 2024. “We’ve reached a historic milestone with the cutting of steel for this ship that will be used to train future cadets at the Maine Maritime Academy,” said TOTE Services President Jeff Dixon. “We’re grateful for the widespread, bipartisan support the NSMV program has received to help make this significant investment in the U.S. maritime industry possible.”

In May 2019, Marad awarded TOTE Services a contract to be the vessel construction manager (VCM) for the NSMV program. Since then, the VCM contract structure has proven to be an effective model in which the government benefits from commercial best practices to design and construct vessels that are built by union labor in a U.S. shipyard with U.S.-made steel and U.S.-made engines. The VCM model has allowed TOTE Services and Philly Shipyard to coordinate closely to meet critical construction milestones for Marad’s NSMV program throughout the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, economic pressures, and other challenges, the two companies said.

Construction of the NSMVs will recapitalize our the U.S. maritime training fleet and directly support more than 1,300 shipyard jobs in Philadelphia, the companies said.

In April 2022, TOTE awarded Philly Shipyard a contract to construct the fifth NSMV, fulfilling Marad’s vision of recapitalizing U.S. maritime training academies.

“Just over two years ago, we received the initial order from TOTE Services for two NSMVs which officially ended our production gap and breathed new life into our shipyard,” said Steinar Nerbovik, president and CEO at Philly Shipyard. “Today, we proudly cut steel on a vessel destined for the docks of Maine Maritime and add a third ship to the active production lines within our yard. I want to thank everyone involved with this project to date and look forward seeing the cadets welcome their new training vessel in 2024.”

“This historic day has been years in the making and – thanks to the efforts of the Maine Congressional delegation – we’re proud to now celebrate the start of construction of the State of Maine training vessel – which will help elevate our nation’s maritime interests and readiness for global humanitarian assistance,” said Maine Maritime Academy President Jerry Paul. “We look forward to welcoming this world class, state-of-the-art vessel to its future home in Castine, Maine, and its place in U.S. maritime history.”

Construction of the first two vessels is well underway with contracted delivery of NSMV I to SUNY Maritime College in 2023 and NSMV II to Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 2024.

This next-generation training vessel fleet is designed to address a critical shortage of qualified officers necessary to crew government and commercial sealift ships.

The NSMV will feature numerous instructional spaces, a full training bridge, and have space for up to 600 cadets to train in a first-rate maritime academic environment at sea. Adding to the NSMV’s capability, it will provide needed rollon/roll-off and container storage capacity for use during disaster relief missions. Ship specifications will be compatible with the pier length, draft restrictions, and mooring limitations at each of the maritime training academies.