Full Federal Funding for State Maritime Academies

GOAL: Sufficient long term federal funding for State Maritime Academies to support their role in the education of the next generation of licensed mariners.

BACKGROUND: The maritime industry is facing an increasing shortage of licensed merchant mariners with profound commercial and national security implications.  Since 1874, America’s State Maritime Academies have been educating and training cadets for licensed officer positions in the United States Merchant Marine.  State Maritime Academies, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan, produce 70 percent of all new licensed officers in the United States and are the largest source of newly licensed officers in the country.

Cadets are trained to contribute to the nation’s maritime transportation needs for licensed merchant marine officers, homeland security efforts, and military readiness.  Graduates of these 4-year universities help meet the crewing requirements of the commercial sealift industry and the Department of Defense’s Military Sealift Command.  They keep our commerce moving, our ports safe, and goods delivered to our armed forces abroad.

Meanwhile, State Maritime Academies are being subjected to increased federal mandates such as Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping but are receiving inadequate federal funding to support such mandates.

As a part of cadet training and merchant mariner readiness, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has identified the need to recapitalize the federally-owned training ships used at State Maritime Academies.  MARAD has concluded that a fleet of common hull multi-mission vessels would be the best long-term solution and has embarked on a $1 billion-plus program to recapitalize the national training ship fleet.  These vessels will be used both as State Maritime Academy training ships and as federal emergency, humanitarian, and disaster relief vessels.

ACTION: Congress should appropriate State Maritime Academies, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, with sufficient federal funding to continue their role in educating and training cadets to become licensed officers and for the construction of National Security Multi-Mission Vessels that will be used both as State Maritime Academy training ships and as federal emergency, humanitarian, and disaster relief vessels.