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Maritime Administration [MARAD]

The Maritime Administration [MARAD] is an agency within the Department of Transportation (DOT), responsible for promoting the development of a merchant marine sufficient to meet the needs of national defense and the domestic and foreign commerce of the United States. MARAD functions include maintenance of ships in MARAD custody; administration of subsidy programs and other financial aids to shipping; maritime research and development; and training of merchant marine officers.

The Maritime Administration is responsible for promoting, developing, and maintaining a U.S. Merchant Marine capable of meeting the nation's shipping needs for both domestic and foreign commerce and the national security. MARAD assists the maritime community in the areas of ship design and construction, development of advanced transportation systems and promotion of the use of U.S. flag vessels.

In administering provisions of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970, MARAD actively engages in such key maritime areas as financial assistance, operations, commercial development, and manpower development. MARAD also operates the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. In addition, MARAD maintains a National Defense Reserve Fleet of merchant ships in three anchorages in the U.S.: James River, Virginia; Beaumont, Texas; Suisun Bay, California; and at various outport locations throughout the continental United States.

MARAD also functions as the National Shipping Authority (NSA) of the United States, the emergency shipping operations agency tasked to acquire and manage merchant shipping for government service in time of war or in defense-related emergencies. In peacetime, MARAD provides ship inventory and characteristics information as well as estimates of ship forecasts for use in DOD planning. In turn, the Department of Defense provides MARAD with information on defense shipping requirements. In a contingency, the Department of Defense advises MARAD of time-phased requirements for ships by type. MARAD provides the Department of Defense with the required ships by activation of reserve vessels and through various government programs, including the Voluntary Tanker Agreement (VTA) and requisitioning. In a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) crisis, MARAD would be responsible for obtaining the NATO ships committed under the NATO Reinforcement Shipping Agreement.

The US Merchant Marine is an essential component of national defense. It augments the basic sealift capacity necessary to meet defense requirements. Experience gained during previous conflicts has emphasized the importance of Navy coordination with all segments of the maritime industry.

The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration is charged with ensuring a viable US Merchant Marine and maritime industry to meet national security needs. The Maritime Administration, in cooperation with the Navy, supports programs directed towards sustaining the maritime infrastructure, including maritime education and training; National Defense Features and Title XI loans; operational differential subsidies and maritime security agreements; and the development of technologies and industrial processes. Inactive strategic sealift ships are positioned throughout the United States and overseas and are capable of being activated within 4 to 20 days. All of the vessels in 4 or 5 day readiness have a cadre crew of civilian mariners. These vessels have already proven their value in supporting defense deployments in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia.



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