Philly cuts steel for new Maine Maritime training ship

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(PHILADELPHIA) – TOTE Services and Philly Shipyard on Monday celebrated the cutting of steel for the third national security multi-mission vessel (NSMV) destined for Maine Maritime Academy.

The event marked another major construction milestone for the U.S. Maritime Administration’s (MarAd) NSMV program, designed to provide a purpose-built, state-of-the-art training platform for state maritime academies in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Texas and California, respectively. In addition to providing world-class training for America’s future mariners, these five NSMVs will be available to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.

The third NSMV in the series is contracted for delivery to the academy in Castine, Maine, by the end of 2024.

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U.S. Maritime Administration photo

“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 innovative 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.

Construction of the NSMVs will recapitalize the nation’s maritime training fleet, strengthen America’s industrial base, and directly support more than 1,300 shipyard jobs in Philadelphia.

In April 2022, TOTE Services awarded Philly Shipyard, a leading U.S. shipbuilder that is presently pursuing a mix of commercial and government work, a contract to construct the fifth NSMV, fulfilling MarAd’s vision of recapitalizing the fleet of maritime training academies throughout the country.

“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, Philly Shipyard. “(We now) 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.

About the NSMV Program

This next-generation training fleet will address a critical shortage of qualified officers necessary to crew government- and commercial-owned sealift ships. In addition to providing world-class training for America’s future mariners, the NSMVs will be available to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.

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. State maritime academies graduate more than half of all new officers each year — the merchant mariners who help keep cargoes and the economy moving. Many also support U.S. national security by crewing military sealift vessels.

In addition to being an advanced training and educational platform, each ship will feature modern hospital facilities, a helicopter pad, and the ability to accommodate up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. Adding to the NSMV’s capability, it will provide needed roll-on/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.

– Philly Shipyard

By Rich Miller