Tote Services Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., has been selected by the U.S. Maritime Administration to serve as vessel construction manager for the new class of maritime training ships.

“The U.S. shipbuilding industry is vital to America’s economic strength and security,” said Marad Administrator Mark Buzby in announcing the decision Tuesday. “The selection of Tote Services to work with a U.S. shipyard to deliver this class of vessels is an investment in our nation’s vital maritime infrastructure and underscores our mission to foster and promote the U.S. Merchant Marine.”

The first of the new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) class is planned to replace the Empire State VI, the training vessel at the State University of New York Maritime College – and the nation’s oldest – when it is delivered in fall 2022. Follow-on examples will replace aging training ships at the other state maritime academies.

With the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed Marad to “provide for an entity other than the Maritime Administration to contract for the construction of the NSMV.”  The agency and maritime industry advocates proposed that procurement process to leverage existing marketplace expertise, and attract companies experienced in the production of innovative U.S.-built ships.

“The construction of this new NSMV will continue to showcase our nation’s shipbuilding standard of excellence,” said Buzby.  “Ultimately, it will provide an excellent training platform for future generations of mariners.”

The NSMV diesel-electric drive design will accommodate up to 600 cadets, or 1,000 persons when employed by Marad in emergency response efforts – as the older Marad-owned state training ships did after the 2017 hurricane season hit the Texas Gulf Coast, Florida and Puerto Rico. The new ships will have helicopter landing pads, cranes and roll-on, roll-off cargo capability to bring critical supplies to damaged ports.

Congress provided $300 million to start the program with the 2018 federal budget. Tote will oversee and manage the detailed design, construction, testing, and delivery of the ship.

Once the contract is formally awarded by Marad, Tote is expected to select a shipyard within six months and begin the management oversight of the final vessel design and construction.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.