Philly Shipyard will build the first national security multi-mission vessels (NSMVs) to serve America’s state maritime academies and provide disaster and humanitarian response.
TOTE Services, the vessel construction manager for the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) NSMV program, awarded the $630 million contract for two lead ships in April. Options for three additional vessels would bring the total contract value to $1.5 billion for Philly Shipyard, which has struggled to find enough work to keep its doors open.
“Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” said Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby. “By the selection of Philly Shipyard as the construction shipyard for the NSMV, this effort is not only bolstering the U.S. merchant marine but the U.S. economy and vital transportation infrastructure as well.”
“Securing this award is a major milestone in our strategy to reposition the yard for government and commercial projects,” said Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard’s president and CEO.
In addition to providing a facility for training maritime cadets, the 524-foot vessels will have broad disaster response and humanitarian assistance capabilities. Before the COVID-19 shutdowns, the first two NSMVs were expected to be delivered in 2023.
The first ship in the class, designed by Herbert Engineering Corp. of Annapolis, Md., will be allocated to the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College to replace the steam turbine-powered Empire State VI. It’s the oldest in the fleet of MarAd-owned training ships assigned to the six maritime academies in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Texas.
The NSMVs are designed to accommodate up to 600 officer cadets and 100 instructors and other personnel with classrooms, auditoriums, simulators, laboratories and additional instructional spaces. Students will use a full training bridge located below the main navigation bridge. Dual engine rooms will support education and provide operational redundancy.
Besides operating as a platform for education, the ships will support the federal government’s response to national and international disasters. Each ship will have a helicopter pad, medical facilities and berthing for up to 1,000 first responders and recovery workers. The design features roll-on/roll-off vehicle garaging and container storage, with refrigerated and dry-goods spaces to store 60 days’ worth of food for 700 people.
The vessels will be propelled by four diesel-electric power plants and two 6,000-horsepower propulsion motors delivering a top speed of 18 knots. Bow and stern thrusters will allow the ships to dock without the assistance of tugs.
Philly Shipyard finished its last vessel construction project in 2019 with the completion of Kaimana Hila, the second of two 3,600-TEU containerships for Matson Navigation. After delivering the Matson vessels, the company laid off hundreds of workers.
To remain viable, the shipyard has transitioned to repair, maintenance and conversion work on U.S. government and Jones Act vessels. At full capacity, the shipyard employs about 1,200 people.