MarAd awards Maritime Heritage grants for projects in 19 states

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The following is the text of a Web post by U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen:

(WASHINGTON) — If you stand on the deck of the USS Constellation in Baltimore, you can look up and see an intricate web-work of running rigging, sails, wooden “spars” and even the elevated “fighting tops,” from which turn-of-the-century gunners fired down on the enemies of the United States. For more than 200 years, America’s ships, ports, lighthouses and waterways have been used by generations of mariners to build, defend and sustain our way of life in the United States. Separately and together, each vessel, pier and aging towpath tells a story about our history that needs to be heard.

That’s why the Maritime Administration, in partnership with the National Park Service, recently provided approximately $2.6 million in Maritime Heritage Program grants for projects in 19 states. These funds will be used to repair and restore a vast array of sites integral to our nation’s maritime history, as well as help to launch a variety of historic exhibits, education programs and online resources. Since 2014, more than $5 million has been provided in two rounds of heritage grants to keep our maritime heritage alive.

It took two federal agencies working together and committed to maritime heritage preservation and education to make these grants possible. Authorized under the National Maritime Heritage Act of 1994, the funding for this program is obtained through the scrapping and recycling of older vessels from MarAd’s National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF). It is a uniquely cost-effective in that not a single tax dollar was expended to support the program since the funds were generated solely through MarAd’s sale of non-retention vessels from the NDRF to recycle the metal and other valuable materials. A portion of those sale proceeds are then directed toward the Maritime Heritage Grant program. 

Projects supported by this year’s Maritime Heritage Grants include: an educational program providing California history students an overnight stay aboard the historic tall ship, Spirit of Dana Point; refurbishment of four lighthouses in Michigan; and the refurbishment of the steel superstructure of the Liberty Ship John W. Brown in Maryland to prevent corrosion and breakdown due to constant exposure to the elements.

The Maritime Heritage grants are available to state, tribal, and local governments, as well as private nonprofit organizations for education and preservation projects. Education grants are used to fund programs such as school curriculums, interpretive exhibits, and online resources; the preservation grant projects can include the rehabilitation or restoration of ships, lighthouses, vintage maritime artifacts, and even turn-of-the century “lifesaving stations,” which were precursors to the U.S. Coast Guard.

These iconic maritime treasures that served and protected our nation at critical times in our history must be preserved for future generations. The Maritime Administration is committed to protecting and refurbishing these prized artifacts from our past, so that future generations can fully appreciate, and be inspired by our nation’s maritime legacy.

By Professional Mariner Staff