News Release #: MARAD 03-18
Date: Aug 08, 2018
Contact: MARAD Public Affairs
Contact Phone: 202-366-5807

Maritime Administration Awards $4.8 Million in Grants

for Marine Highway Projects Throughout the U.S.

WASHINGTON- Today, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced $4,872,000 in grants to six Marine Highway projects. The funding, provided by the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Marine Highway program, will help enhance existing marine highways serving ports in Louisiana, Virginia, New York, and Connecticut, and support the development of new container-on-barge services in Kentucky and Rhode Island.

“Strengthening the country’s waterways and domestic seaports stimulates economic growth, reduces congestion and increases the efficiency of our national freight transportation system,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

The Marine Highway Program supports the expanded use of navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, provide new transportation options, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system. The program works with public and private stakeholders to achieve these goals.

“These marine highway grants will help expand freight movement on the water and modernize our inland ports and waterways,” said Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby.

Marine Highways provide new modal choices to cargo shippers, which reduces transportation costs while providing the public benefits of reduced road maintenance costs and improved safety. Expanding the use of our waterways supports jobs at U.S. ports and shipyards, and marine highway services also benefit national security by providing an alternate mode of transportation and adding to our strategic sealift resources.

Projects receiving grant funding are:

Port of Baton Rouge and Port of New Orleans Container-on-Barge (awarded $2,507,200)

The grant will be used to purchase marine terminal and handling equipment for efficient loading and unloading of container-on-barge operations in New Orleans. The existing service, which operates on a regular, reliable schedule, is designed to relocate empty containers in Memphis to meet export customer demand in Baton Rouge. This grant will allow the service to expand to the New Orleans France Road terminal and will allow northbound containers to be offloaded as far north as Memphis, TN.

Davisville/Brooklyn/Newark Container-on-Barge Service (awarded $855,200)

Sponsored by the Quonset Development Corporation, this service will run between Brooklyn, NY, Newark, NJ and the Port of Davisville in Rhode Island. The service will include a dedicated run twice a week utilizing one 800-TEU capacity deck barge and will remove approximately 83,200 containers and 14,976,000 vehicular miles annually from the road. It will also relieve landside congestion and lower transportation costs for shippers while providing additional economic opportunities regionally.

James River Expansion Project on the M-64 (awarded $456,000)

Sponsored by the Port of Virginia, this regularly scheduled service operates three times a week between terminals in Hampton Roads, and the Richmond Marine Terminal.  The grant will allow the service to continue expanding by increasing freight handling capacity at the Richmond Marine Terminal, enabling it to provide a more efficient level of service.

New York Harbor Container and Trailer-on-Barge Service (awarded $298,423)

Sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the grant will assist with funding a planning study to look at how marine highway services can be expanded throughout the Northeast region from New York Harbor to other points. Since many of the terminals at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are reaching capacity; the study will provide the data necessary to establish the business case to support shipping container movement by barge between terminals and beyond. Services derived from this study could reduce landside congestion, provide greater market access and improve terminal capacity and efficiency. 

Cross Sound Enhancement Project (awarded $503,250)

Sponsored by the Connecticut Port Authority, this grant will support the improvement of the Cross-Sound Ferry by expanding the dock and supporting infrastructure. The project will focus on maintaining and improving operational safety and efficiency. The grants funding will be utilized for shoreside infrastructure improvements and more efficient direction of vehicular traffic.

Paducah-McCracken Riverport Container-on-Barge Service (awarded $251,927)

Sponsored by the Paducah-McCracken County Riverport Authority, the grant funding will be applied to an 18-month demonstration of container-on-barge services that would stretch across three states and three marine highways. Specifically, the funds would be utilized for leasing and/or purchase of shoreside container handling equipment.




American Marine Highways (AMH) Vessel Designs

Click Here For AMH Design Project Final Report
Click Here To Download The Full Portfolio Of Design Drawings. For Best Hardcopy Results, Use 2-Sided Print Option.

Six (6) Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO/ROs)

Three (3) Roll-On/Container (RO/CONs)



America’s Marine Highway Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are America’s Marine Highways?

America’s Marine Highways are navigable waterways that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation and have demonstrated the ability to provide additional capacity to relieve congested landside routes serving freight and passenger movement. Each marine highway has a corridor designation that reflects the congested landside route it parallels. For example, M-95 stretches from Maine to Florida and is the designation for the shipping lane along the Atlantic Coast paralleling interstate highway I-95.

Who should I contact in my region to talk about America’s Marine Highway Program?

Please contact your local Maritime Administration (MARAD) Gateway Office for more information.

What is the difference between marine highways and short sea shipping?

Short sea shipping commonly refers to coast-wise waterborne transportation of freight and or passengers by navigable waterways without crossing an ocean. Marine Highways are short sea routes and inland water routes within the US that have been designated by the Secretary of Transportation. America’s Marine Highway Program, administered by the Maritime Administration, was formed to help develop new and expand existing U.S. flag services that transport passengers and/or containerized or trailerized freight along Marine Highways.

What’s the difference between a Corridor, Connector and crossing?

Corridors, Connectors, and Crossings identify routes where water transportation presents an opportunity to offer relief to landside corridors that suffer from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental concerns and other challenges. Corridors are generally longer, multi-state routes whereas Connectors represent shorter routes that serve as feeders to the larger Corridors. Crossings are short routes that transit harbors or waterways and offer alternatives to much longer or less convenient land routes between points.

How do I apply for designation as a corridor, connector or crossing?

Corridor, connector, and crossing applications from public entities are always welcome. Contents of the application include a narrative portion that should not exceed 20 pages in length. Applications may be submitted electronically via the Marine Highway e-mail address. Please mail a hard copy to the Administrator of the Maritime Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590-0001 Room W22-318, MAR-100. Instructions regarding applications are included in the Final Rule for America’s Marine Highway program published April 9, 2010. For more info, contact a Gateway Office Director in your region.

What is the difference between a designated project and a designated initiative?

Designated projects have been recognized by the Secretary of Transportation as having the ability to create new marine highway services or expand existing services. Project designations are obtained through an application process. The first “Call for Projects” applications were held in 2010. Calls for projects are published by the Federal Register approximately every 2 years. Designated initiatives are recognized by the Secretary as being potential projects that have not yet been developed to the point of proposing specific services and routes required of project designation. For more information, contact your local Maritime Administration Gateway Office.

What are the benefits of being designated a Marine Highway Project?

Designated projects receive preferential treatment from the Department and MARAD. In addition to possible funding assistance, the Office of Marine Highways supported by the Gateway Offices may provide other support services. Once project designation has been received, you do not need to apply in future calls for projects. However, a letter updating the status of your project is required to be submitted every two (2) years. Project designation will remain with the public sponsor of the project unless the project has substantially changed.

I have been designated an initiative; may I apply for project designation in the future?

Absolutely! You would be eligible during the next “Call for Projects” and a complete updated application meeting all criteria would be required for consideration. Contact your local Gateway Office for more information.



Marine Highway News

On August 11, 2010, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood identified 18 marine corridors, 8 projects, and 6 initiatives for further development as part of “America’s Marine Highway Program.” In addition, the Maritime Administration made available $7 million for which these projects will be able to compete through a Notice of Funding Availability. Please see the entire press release at the Newsroom.

The Marine Highway Program was fully implemented in April 2010 through publication of a Final Rule in the Federal Register ( The Secretary’s designations were made pursuant to the Final Rule, as required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The Final Rule (MARAD-2010-0035) for America’s Marine Highway Program was published April 9, 2010.

If you would like to receive a notification when the next Call for Projects is published, please send us an e-mail at


Waterways Planning

America’s Marine Highway Program

What We Do

The America’s Marine Highway System consists of our Nation’s navigable waterways including rivers, bays, channels, the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence Seaway System, coastal, and open-ocean routes. The Marine Highway Program works to further incorporate these waterways into the greater U.S. transportation system, especially where marine transportation services are the most efficient, effective, and sustainable transportation option.


To lead the development and expansion of Marine Highway services and to facilitate their integration into the U.S. surface transportation system.


The full integration of reliable, regularly scheduled, competitive, and sustainable Marine Highway services into the surface transportation system that are a routine choice for shippers.

Governing Legislation

The America’s Marine Highway Program was established by Section 1121 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to reduce landside congestion through the designation of Marine Highway Routes. Section 405 of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 further expanded the scope of the program beyond reducing landside congestion to efforts that generate public benefits by increasing the utilization or efficiency of domestic freight or passenger transportation on Marine Highway Routes between U.S. ports. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 added to the definition of short sea shipping to include cargo shipped in discrete units or packages that are handled individually, palletized or unitized for purposes of transportation; or freight vehicles carried aboard commuter ferry boats.

Program Description

The America’s Marine Highway Program is a Department of Transportation-led program to expand the use of our Nation’s navigable waterways to relieve landside congestion, reduce air emissions, provide new transportation options, and generate other public benefits by increasing the efficiency of the surface transportation system. The program works with public and private stakeholders to achieve these goals.

The Marine Highway Program does not directly operate Marine Highway services.

Overall Benefits

The efficiency, flexibility, and system resiliency provided by our navigable waterways can benefit the United States public as a whole, however they are currently underutilized within the U.S. surface transportation system. One reason for that underutilization is that many of the benefits generated by Marine Highway services cannot be captured by individuals, such as reducing landside congestion or reduced system wear and tear. By acting to increase the use of the United States’ underutilized marine transportation assets, the America’s Marine Highways Program helps to generate these “public benefits” that are not normally considered by shippers. These public benefits include:

  • Creating and sustaining jobs in U.S. vessels and in U.S. ports and shipyards;
  • Increasing the state of good repair of the U.S. transportation system by reducing maintenance costs from wear and tear on roads and bridges;
  • Increasing our nation’s economic competitiveness by adding new, cost-effective freight and passenger transportation capacity;
  • Increasing the environmental sustainability of the U.S. transportation system by using less energy and reducing air emissions (such as greenhouse gases) per passenger or ton-mile of freight moved. Further environmental sustainability benefits come from the mandatory use of modern engine technology on designated projects;
  • Increasing public safety and security by providing alternatives for the movement of hazardous materials outside heavily populated areas;
  • Increasing transportation system resiliency and redundancy by providing transportation alternatives during times of disaster or national emergency;
  • Increasing national security by adding to the nation’s strategic sealift resources.

For a full list and explanation of the public benefits generated by increasing the use of the Marine Highway system, see pages 11-37 of the America’s Marine Highway Report to Congress (April 2011).

Marine Highway Routes

The Marine Highway system currently includes 25 all-water Marine Highway Routes that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system. These Routes are designated by the Secretary because they can offer relief to landside corridors that suffer from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental concerns and challenges or provide new transportation options. Marine Highway Routes can be made to the Department of Transportation at any time and they are designated by the Secretary after a review. Route recommendation information can be in found the Final Rule in the Federal Register. Designation of these Marine Highway Routes is the first step towards reducing landside congestion by focusing public and private efforts on increasing the amount of cargoes and passengers transported on commercially navigable waterways. Please click on this link to view information on the individual Marine Highway Route: Marine Highway Route Descriptions

Marine Highway Projects

The Marine Highway Open Season “Call for Projects” was published in April 2016 and is currently open. The Office of Marine Highways will review applications on a rolling basis every 6 months until December 31, 2018.

The projects represent concepts for new services or expansion of existing Marine Highway services that have the potential to offer public benefits and long-term sustainability without long-term Federal support. These projects receive preferential treatment for any future federal assistance from the Department of Transportation and MARAD. The projects will help start new businesses or expand existing ones to move more freight or passengers along America’s coastlines and waterways.

Click Here for Marine Highway Project Description Pages

AMH Factors of Success Project Designation Webinar Presentation (2018)

Marine Highway Grants

The first round of Marine Highway Grants totaling $7M were awarded in September 2010. In 2016 and 2017, the Program received an additional $5M per year. The Consolidated Budget Act of 2018 provided a further $7M. As the Program grows, additional notices of funding opportunities will be published in the Federal Register as funds become available. Click Here for Notice of Funding Opportunity for America’s Marine Highway Projects

The Office of Ports & Waterways Planning encourages sponsors and partners that have previously had their marine highway project designated to respond to AMHP solicitations. When applying, all project applicants should include the information requested in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. Applications are generally submitted electronically via (


Additional Resources

America’s Marine Highways are supported in several ways, including through reports and publications from government and academia. Refer to the Program’s Reference Library for more information.

List of non funding related assistance offered by the Office of Marine Highways and Passenger Services.


Date of Speech: Jul 19, 2018






JULY 19, 2018



Thank you __________________ and good afternoon everyone. It’s a great to be in Kentucky and not in Washington!

I really appreciate the invitation to join you for the second of these very important gatherings of legislators and leaders in the economy of western Kentucky as you rightfully talk about the future of this region.    I think that you can correctly read the importance that we at the maritime administration place on this conference, since my predecessor Chip Jaenichen attended your first WAVE, and now here I am at this year’s installment.

We are paying attention – and getting the attention of Washington is a victory all in itself, so well done.

Speaking of Washington, secretary of transportation, Elaine L. Chao asked me to share her personal greetings with you all.  When I reminded her at our morning meeting yesterday that I was headed here today, she immediately smiled and said to please say hi to all of you.
It is a pleasure to serve as her Maritime Administrator because she is a true champion of the maritime industry.

She is very well acquainted with the dominant role of rivers and waterways to the commonwealth of Kentucky, and its proximity at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
So therefore, what interests my boss, truely fascinates me!

Hearing what’s taking place in your economic development partnership, i am greatly encouraged by the maritime leadership, expertise and assets you are cultivating and leveraging for the good of the commonwealth of Kentucky, and the states of Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee.

with the state’s more than 1900 miles of designated navigable waterways, Kentucky is genuinely a national maritime ‘center of gravity’ embodying the unrealized potential of our inland rivers and waterways.

What you are doing here in Kentucky is a great model for other states to emulate of the maritime industry’s importance to our nation as a freight and transportation resource.

We’ve all seen the statistics: coming decades will see a dramatic increase in the need for maritime transportation in the U.S.– and the region represented by “WAVE” is poised to play a major role.
I am talking about U.S. domestic and international freight flows expected to rise 45 percent in the next 30 years… and a population projected to grow by nearly 70[i] million over that same period of time.  That means we are going to be moving a lot more stuff!

This alliance is perfectly situated to take advantage of a host of natural and man-made assets and infrastructure.

I see the region’s close proximity to major U.S. population centers — St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville and Evansville, among others –and the fact that 67% of the nation’s population lives within eight hours of this four-county area of southwestern Kentucky.[ii]

Location, location, location – you’ve got it!
Nationally, we have no alternative but to develop, grow, and modernize our ports and inland waterways for our economic health and security.   With land traffic choking our roads and highways, we must find better ways of transporting cargo cheaper and more efficiently.

It seems obvious to me that the natural place to expand, to take advantage of the additional untapped capacity is – maritime.

As an industry we need to follow “WAVE’s” example – assembling leadership and expertise from a multi-state region to work creatively and collaboratively to get us ready.   As you know, we have a big job before us.

We will need to grow revenues and reinvest back into our maritime infrastructure, and then recruit, train and retain talent both shore side and on the water.

Let’s put it in perspective. By 2022, four years from now, the transportation employment sector is projected to add 417,000 jobs simply through industry growth. And another 4.2 million vacancies will need to be filled due to retirement, occupational transfers, and exits of various sorts. [iii]
these statistics get my attention in a big way because part of my statutory mission is to ensure the proper manning and training of a maritime workforce for our us flag merchant marine.

Our piece of the manning shortfall is already being felt:  I’ve already reported to congress that I am 1800 mariners short to sustain a prolonged sealift effort.  Everyone I talk to in the industry tells me the same thing: they are looking for people.

So when I look at “WAVE’s” efforts to provide workforce opportunities for their communities, i see a need and opportunity born from some real pain.

With the disappearance of the manufacturing economy in the last half of the 20th century, this region has taken some big hits – I know you know that all too well.

The recent closing of the West Vaco/Verso paper mill, i understand, cost western Kentucky 390 jobs alone.[iv] what do you replace those with?

Legitimate 21st century economic opportunities for younger workers across the region are at a premium. But look at your incredible assets!   Maritime, in my estimation, has by far the most promise.

Of the top 20 maritime occupations, 87% of future job openings will be in operations, including vessel pilots, material moving workers, crane operators, first-line supervisors.[v]

these high-demand occupations pay well, and have relatively low thresholds for workers entering those sectors. Those opportunities will be well-served by a region that boasts a highly-ranked public school system,[vi] along with excellent educational opportunities at nearby Murray State university and the Western Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Combined with some excellent vocational and technical programs supported by the local community, what you have is a fertile training ground for river-related industries.
I think “WAVE” could lead the charge with thoughtful region-wide coordination and planning– helping to develop a skilled workforce that could mesh beautifully with new maritime opportunities.

The ingredients for a significant maritime resurgence in southwestern Kentucky are apparent, so keep up the good work!

In ten years who knows what can be accomplished for your communities, for future generations, working together, developing your workforce, building upon the region’s abundant maritime assets.

As for me, my life has almost always been about the sea, rivers and waterways, ships and the mariners who sail them.

And if my life has taught me anything – it’s that this nation’s maritime power and prowess is fundamental to our greatness as a nation.

A greatness that has always been grounded in innovation, education, a highly skilled workforce, and visionary, intelligent leadership like I think you have assembled here today.

The progress that made us the most powerful nation on earth depends on staying ahead of the curve in research, development, technology and innovation in the industries native to our local, regional and national economies.

At MARAD we’re focused on supporting your efforts. We recently signed on to a special charter to create what we’re calling a “Highly Automated and Autonomous Vessel Coordination and Action Team (A/VCAT).”

It’s based on the fact that maritime companies in both Europe and Asia are rapidly developing autonomous vessel technologies that could cut deeply into our commercial shipping market.
Our “A/VCAT” team will monitor and collect data and information on both foreign and domestic development and implementation of autonomous technologies.

It will also act as a clearing house for that information and promote inclusion of autonomous technology curricula in U.S. engineering, educational, and maritime institutions.

These are advances that will provide new job opportunities, but will also require new education and training protocols.

MARAD has also entered into a U.S. autonomous vessels consortium agreement with the American Bureau of Shipping (“ABS”) to promote the design, construction, operation and maintenance of autonomous vessels.

Both initiatives will be comprised of key stakeholder groups, including vessel owners/operators, shipyards, OEM’s, ports, regulatory authorities and industry trade associations, to name but a few.  Many in this room today may have an opportunity to participate in how this new frontier manifests in our industry.

We strongly believe that our nation needs the right kind of ports, of the right size, in the right places – with the appropriate advanced technology and infrastructure to compete in domestic and global markets.

To assist, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released notice of funding opportunity for the FY 2018 Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development, or “BUILD transportation discretionary grants,” program.  Formerly, this was known as the Tiger Grant Program.

Funds are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. For this round of BUILD grants, the maximum award amount is $25 million, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single state.

The $1.5 billion in available funds is three (3) times the historical average.

As the application window closes today, we hope and expect to see an increase in significant project submissions from our stakeholders.

Our marine highway program is another resource.   Right here in Kentucky, with the recent designation of a container on barge project sponsored by Paducah, we are seeing tremendous interest in, and growth of, container movement on the inland waterway system.  This needs to happen.

Our portfolio of resources is abundant. I encourage you to collaborate with our director of inland waterways, Branden Criman, to maximize every opportunity.

She, and the supporting cast back at MARAD HQ are there to help you take full advantage of our funding and assistance programs, and we look forward to working with you all.

So keep up the great work you are doing, it is so necessary to the future of our nation.

Thank you, and if we have time, I’m available to answer a few questions.


1;Beyond Traffic 2045 Report; pg. 4

2;WAVE Phase One Strategic Plan; pg 12; Nov. 7 2016

3;Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry – August 2015 – US Departments of Transportation, Labor and Education – P. 17
4;Released in a statement from the office of Gov. Matt Bevin – 5 April 2016
5;Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways Across the Transportation Industry – August 2015 – US Departments of Transportation, Labor and Education – P. 76
6;WAVE: Phase One Strategic Plan – Page 12 – 7 November 2016





Date of Speech: MAY 17, 2018






MAY 17, 2018

11:00AM – 12:00 PM


Thank you for having me for today’s celebration of National Maritime Day here in San Diego.  Always nice to be back in this seafaring town.

I’m honored to be joining so many maritime leaders and friends from our industry – my old shipmate Dave Thomas, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair, and his team.

Commander Don Montoro of the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego; Kevin Graney, President of NASSCO, and your team;  Rafael Castellanos, chairman of the Port of San Diego; San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and councilmember David Alvarez; and all of the other maritime business leaders and friends in attendance.

I had a great tour of the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal earlier this morning, and after lunch I’ll be kicking steel over at bae and at NASSCO. I look forward to that.

MARAD has partnered and collaborated with San Diego for many years, and part of the reason I wanted to visit the 10th Ave Terminal was to see how the $10 million Tiger Grant was going to be applied to rehabilitate the terminal.

By the way, Tiger is now called “BUILD” which stands for “Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development.”  I can report that another $1.5 billion is being awarded this year, a portion of which will be committed to port upgrades and expansions.

This region is a model for the modern maritime industry, and I’m proud to be joining you to celebrate national maritime day — a day when we have the privilege to honor America mariners who have served the U.S. admirably in times of peace and war. Many of those have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Today…  it’s my privilege to recognize the many dedicated seafaring men and women of the U.S. merchant marine who have fueled the economy of the united states of America . . . And supported our growth as a nation for more than 240 years.

By delivering supplies and equipment to our military forces overseas, and commercial cargoes here at home and to other nations, these mariners have helped to sustain the American way of life.
In ways I can’t possibly recount, they have contributed to our society’s security and prosperity. So we owe a great debt to our American mariners – and that includes the many thousands presently employed in oceangoing, great lakes, inland river, and marine-related shore side jobs here stateside and around the world.

You know, we often forget that our nation began with a voyage:  a native American paddling his canoe – the very first Jones Act vessel!  An international ocean voyage intended to grow maritime trade occurred years later… and it was financed by maritime trade.

That early seagoing enterprise transformed an unexplored continent into the most powerful nation on earth.

Through shipping… our country grew in power and influence, gained its independence and ushered in a new, democratic way of life for humankind.

Our founders recognized our enormous waterborne resources – three ocean coastlines, the world’s largest freshwater lakes to our north, and thousands of miles of inland rivers and waterways traversing the heartland – and they wisely linked our nation’s future to growing our maritime strength.

Everything that the maritime industry meant 200 years ago… it still means today.

Through the years the industry has undergone many changes, but one thing hasn’t changed.

During times of domestic or international emergency, America’s merchant mariners are among the first to be called to action to help those in need, both at home and abroad.

We saw that play out vividly during last summer’s hurricane season when America mariners in U.S.-built ships provided the vast majority of the cargo lift – 24 ships – to service the hard-hit island of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Hats off to Jones Act carriers Crowley, Tote, Trailerbridge and North America for their tremendous response.  And they are still there today. And special shout out to pasha for sending the “horizon spirit” around from this coast to assist in the relief effort.

Our mariner’s efforts have been absolutely essential to our national defense, from the revolutionary war on to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan… and every conflict in between.

Today, as we honor maritime’s proud past… We look expectantly to the future– like always, a future “full and down” with challenges.

Many of you may have read my recent testimony before Congress where I expressed my grave concerns about our ability today to meet the nation’s sealift requirements for a prolonged major overseas engagement.

Shrinking numbers of vessels in the U.S. merchant marine, and the resulting decline in our pool of qualified mariners, puts us on the edge of not having enough people to support the world’s most powerful military that we’re preparing to recapitalize.
The simple formula is this: to have enough U.S. ships and mariners to serve our nation’s sealift and sustainment requirements in times of crisis, we need a healthy peacetime maritime industry with enough ships and mariners to meet the crisis demand.   And the key element that determines ship numbers and mariner numbers is cargo.

Today the U.S.-flag fleet in international trade currently carries less than 2 percent of our annual foreign trade.

The U.S.-flag presence in international commercial trade is at an historic low with only 81 ships, which means the pool of qualified mariners needed to crew a prolonged sealift mobilization is also at an historic low. MARAD recently estimated a shortfall of 1,800 mariners for a long term sealift effort.
My team and i have been working closely with us transportation command, military sealift command, the coast guard, and our commercial partners to address these issues.

There are no silver bullets or easy answers, but to meet our national security objectives, i have three tools at my disposal — the Maritime Security Program, or MSP, Cargo Preference, and the Jones Act.

The MSP has been fully authorized for the remainder of fiscal year 2018, which is great news.  The program pays a stipend to 60 of the 81 internationally trading ships that I mentioned earlier.  Absolutely critical program.
And we continue to advocate for robust Cargo Preference levels to help U.S.-flag commercial shipping companies compete and employ an adequate pool of qualified mariners.

We are up on Capitol Hill regularly advocating for the strongest possible Cargo Preference quotas.

I alluded to the Jones Act earlier when talking about hurricane relief.  Here is another program essential to the health of the U.S. maritime industry.   Remember I just spoke about the 81 internationally trading vessels under the U.S. flag?  Well, of the 38,000 or so Jones Act vessels, 100 of them are large oceangoing ships.  That means that those ships provide the majority of the employment pool for unlimited license mariners.

Take away the Jones Act and you have just about cut the active mariner pool in half.   It would also have a devastating effect on domestic shipyards, the supply chains that support them, and vessel operators.   It would be an immediate threat to national defense.

It all comes back to cargo, and finding more opportunities for our ships to carry it.  More ships to carry more cargo equates to more jobs…and more resilience in our sealift capability.

Things aren’t all doom and gloom though!

Between hurricanes Harvey and Maria, MARAD dispatched four of our school ships to locations in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, providing over 35,000 berthing nights and 52,000 meals to first responders.  They demonstrated the importance of having ships ready to respond on short notice for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
A few months later, we saw Congress add $300 million to the MARAD budget, full funding for this country’s first purpose-built training vessel: which we call the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel. And it’s going to be built in a U.S. shipyard, and there will very likely be more than one.
That plus up was part of the largest budget in MARAD’s history. At $979.6 million for fiscal year 2018, it’s nearly a half-a-billion-dollar increase over our 2017 budget.

Congress also provided $45 million in funding for capital improvements at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – an increase of $34 million over FY 2017. That will allow us to accelerate many needed repairs and building replacements.  The six state maritime academies received a total of $32 million for a range of important programs — an increase of $3 million over FY 2017.

These funds will go toward training the young mariners who will serve our military, strengthen our national security, crew our commercial shipping industry and serve the U.S. merchant marine in the years ahead.

Another $289.3 million came to MARAD from the Department of Defense in FY 2018 to maintain the 46 vessels in our ready reserve force, and begin service-life extensions for some.

The average age of this fleet is 43 years old, and 23 of the 46 are steam driven.  Its time to recapitalize this capability.

And in addition to the newly-named “BUILD” grants I mentioned earlier, another $20 million is available in Small Shipyard Grants this year, and we received $7 million for the marine highway grant programs. The notice of funding opportunity should be out before summer on that one.
Major opportunities for innovation and a healthier, more competitive U.S. maritime industry, will probably come through technology.
MARAD has some important developments underway in this area. I have put my deputy administrator – Dick Balzano (Maine Maritime grad) in charge of MARAD’s new research and development program.

His group will be studying and assessing new technologies such as autonomous vessels and cyber-security related innovations, among others.

So things are happening, and MARAD is working with industry and our federal partners to ensure that this new frontier compliments and enhances our industry.

Work is also continuing on our National Maritime Transportation Strategy – which provides a strategic platform for our industry’s resurgence. We view it as our blueprint for the future. It was drafted under previous Administrator Chip Jaenichen’s watch, but I support it and intend to push it forward.

It will help our nation’s maritime leaders prepare for the predicted increased freight flows driven by an increasing population… and guide us in stimulating the modernization, and expansion, of our merchant marine. I want to see it adopted because i believe it can be a steering star for our way ahead. So stay tuned on that.

So, yes, we are working through an extended season of significant challenges in the maritime industry but I think there is also lot to be upbeat on Maritime Day this year.

When it’s all said and done – when we’ve concluded all of our discussions about ships and ports and cargo and intermodal connectivity — the real story is that there are “people” behind those great ships. There are dedicated, highly skilled mariners making the merchant marine work for this nation… keeping the industry afloat, and… on occasion, paying the ultimate price.

In celebrating and saluting these fine men and women – past, present, and future – i commend them for consistently going far beyond the call of duty.


Just last week, I awarded merchant marine Meritorious Service medals to two Maryland pilots, and three launch operators who set out in hurricane force conditions off the Virginia capes to bring a carnival cruise lines ship into the bay that was trying to evade the heavy weather.  20-foot seas and 80 knots of wind – pretty sporty.

But they got the job done safely.

This National Maritime Day observance is fitting tribute to those who have served our nation honorably for more than 200 years. To all of you I say congratulations… and thank you!


Date of Speech: APRIL 19, 2018





APRIL 19, 2018

Good morning and greetings from the Maritime Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s great to be here with the membership of the American Waterways Operators.

I’ve attended a number of inland waterways events since I came to MARAD in August, and have been getting up to speed about some of the critical issues tied to our nation’s inland maritime assets.

After a 34-year career in the Navy, most of them spent commanding big ships at sea, I am reminded almost daily of how strategic these natural inland waterborne highways are to our national security and economic prosperity.

America’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry is, in turn, an essential part of our nation’s maritime and freight transportation system – one of the safest and economical modes of freight transportation.

MARAD values its long-standing partnership with the AWO, and I look forward to getting to know this important group of stakeholders.
A recent milestone in our partnership was commissioning a study on the economic impact of the tugboat, towboat and barge industry. That Price-Waterhouse-Coopers study confirmed the importance of your industry to our economy and to American jobs.

It detailed how water transport uses 75 percent less energy than trucks and 31 percent less than rail to haul a ton of freight. And it confirmed that the tugboat, towboat and barge industry is directly responsible for more than 50,000 jobs.

And it supports these jobs while transporting 69 percent of the lumber, stone and ore — nearly 83 percent of petroleum and petroleum products — and 90 percent of coal moved by water on a nationwide basis.

I was impressed to learn that your industry, both directly and indirectly, supported more than 300,000 jobs and $33.8 billion in GDP in 2014.

That’s great news for our industry at a time when we’re facing more than our share of challenges.

Today we have the lowest number of U.S.-flag ships sailing internationally than we’ve ever had in modern times – a tiny fraction of the total number of ships moving freight on the seas.

That rapid decline has created an even more troubling chain reaction. With the resulting loss of jobs, we’re now facing a severe shortage of qualified mariners needed to pilot these big oceangoing ships in a military crisis. In fact, we may not have enough at this very moment to support an extended conflict overseas.

That keeps me up at night. So it’s with a lot of optimism that I commend your industry, and the American Waterways Operators, for its outstanding work, planning and collaboration to maintain its strength and viability in a challenging time.

The towboat and barge sector could rightfully be called the backbone of the maritime industry. As that study showed, it boosts our nation’s economy and the commercial health of many, many communities around this country.

What many people don’t realize is that your members have also historically led the charge in marine safety and environmental stewardship.

I’m talking about Subchapter M, published two summers ago by the United States Coast Guard. It was completed in tandem with the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), the American Waterways Operators (AWO), and hundreds of maritime leaders and experts across this country.

It’s ready to be implemented in July and may be the most important rulemaking tool ever for the tug and towboat industry. It will take marine safety and environmental stewardship in the towing industry to the next level.

That 820-page document took 12-years to complete but was well worth the time and effort. What impressed me most is that you initiated it on your own.
You didn’t wait until there was a major accident or disaster– or until some act of Congress forced it on you. You took a pretty safe, if largely unregulated industry, and in 12 years produced a systematic body of rules to make it even safer.
This is the formula for success if the greater maritime sector is going to survive – much less thrive – in the 21st century.

So to all of you throughout the industry who participated and brought Subchapter M to fruition. . . Congratulations and job well done.

Now the hard work begins of implementing the new standards and making them work in practice. If the past is any indicator, you will not only succeed, but your industry will continue to benefit the American people with safer waterways, quality jobs and commercial vitality. Good work!

Now I’d like to share some other recent good news with you all. Three weeks ago MARAD received its largest budget in history. At $979.6 million for fiscal year 2018, it’s nearly a half-a-billion-dollar increase over our 2017 budget.

Within that, Congress provided $300 million dollars this year to build a new training ship for SUNY Maritime College.

This will be a new class of National Security Multi-Mission Vessel to bring our training operations up-to-date and prepare our young mariners for the 21st century. And it’s going to be built in a U.S. shipyard.

Congress also provided $45 million in funding for capital improvements at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy – an increase of $34 million over FY 2017. And our state maritime academies received $32 million for a range of important programs. That’s an increase of $3 million over FY 2017.

These funds will go toward training the young mariners who will serve our military, strengthen our national security, and crew our commercial shipping industry and U.S. Merchant Marine in the years ahead.

And as you’ve probably heard, most of the 46 vessels currently in the Ready Reserve Force, or RRF, have reached the end of their service life.

That fleet provides the bulk of our government-owned surge sealift capacity and needs to be recapitalized.  $289.3 million in funding to MARAD from the Department of Defense in FY 2018 will allow for service- life extensions.

The numbers are encouraging, but we all know the maritime industry, at its best, is a diverse, interconnected, multi-modal enterprise closely integrated with landside transportation modes. The waterways part of the equation also faces the challenges of an aging and often outmoded maritime infrastructure.
The President’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure package – which includes the nation’s ports and waterways – intends to unleash private investment by incentivizing public-private partnerships. It will also streamline processes to reduce the amount of time and money required to complete major infrastructure projects.

While this plan is still being unpacked, I can report that $1.5 billion in Tiger Grants are being awarded this year, some of which will be translated into port upgrades and expansions.

There’s also another $20 million available in small shipyard grants, a portion of which will impact waterways operators and facilitate maritime infrastructure projects. The notice of funding opportunity just went out, so stay tuned on that.

And I’m sure you have heard we received $7 million for the Marine Highway Grant Programs.  The notice of funding opportunity should be out before summer.

I know you’re waiting to hear my take on the future of the Jones Act. I don’t have to tell anyone here that the Jones Act– along with the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Cargo Preference— is a critical part of the equation for a healthy domestic and international U.S. maritime industry moving forward.

They’re the Three Pillars that keep our U.S.-flag fleet and merchant marine economically viable, adequately crewed by qualified American mariners, and ready to respond in an emergency.

The Jones Act has a direct economic bearing on what everyone gathered in this room does for a living.  Its U.S.-build, ownership, and crew requirements support mariner jobs and give us access to domestic maritime assets needed in times of war or national emergency.

It also serves national security priorities by supporting U.S. shipyards and repair facilities that produce and repair American-built ships.

Since I came on board at MARAD in August, just a little over seven months ago, the Jones Act has come under assault like I’ve never seen before. It began when three powerful hurricanes hammered our southern coasts and the Caribbean and it continues today.

Hurricane Harvey had barely approached Houston when calls for Jones Act waivers began. Yet we never saw a lack of U.S. flag capacity.

In fact, just two days after Maria hit Puerto Rico, U.S.-flag Jones brought cargo into Puerto Rican terminals faster than it could be distributed, as well as supplies that had already been brought in prior to the storm’s arrival.

Yet the Jones Act was blamed in the press for delaying the flow of relief supplies.

For example, you had one reporter on the shoreline in San Juan saying: “but since the president waived the Jones Act, look at all the ships that are arriving now!”
The problem was, this reporter was actually pointing at one of Tote’s new Marlin Class container ships on its way in, with a triple-deck Crowley barge in the background.

Yet in spite of all of the false narratives, the Jones Act and the U.S. Merchant Marine stood tall in the crisis and did its job – and continues to do so.

Losing the Jones Act would mean the loss of American jobs and pose grave risks to our economic security. It would also be devastating to U.S. domestic shipyards and vessel operators.

That’s why my colleagues and I at the Maritime Administration continue to educate both our stakeholders and the public on this issue. The stakes for our nation are incredibly high.

Just as the stakes for preserving a vibrant, profitable tugboat, towboat and barge industry are equally high.

Which is why all of us at the Maritime Administration and at the U.S. department of Transportation continue to work on your behalf, to do everything in our power to help you continue this growth and success.

We’re in this together, and we need your industry to stay strong. We need you to continue to support our economy, especially with the increased volumes of domestic freight coming our way over the next 30 years. This industry is a strategic asset to the nation.

It has been an honor to talk with you today. The AWO is an important partner to the Maritime Administration, and to our nation. Thank you again for your service and your contributions.



News Release #: 01-18
Date: Mar 28, 2018
Contact: Kim Strong
Contact Phone: 202-366-5807

Maritime Administrator Attends Groundbreaking for Port of Savannah’s Mason Mega Rail Project

Rail Expansion Will Increase Productivity and Efficiency of One of Nation’s Busiest Ports


SAVANNAH, Ga. –The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby, attended the groundbreaking of the Port of Savannah’s Mason Mega Rail project. The Mason Mega Rail project will support improved freight mobility throughout the area by increasing intermodal container transportation from ship to rail lines servicing the port and significantly reduce landside congestions in and out of the port.

“The maritime industry is a crucial component in the overall economic success of the country,” said Administrator Buzby. “Investments in our intermodal infrastructure improve the efficiency and intermodal capabilities of our nation’s ports and ensures the U.S. is competitive in the global market.”

Funded by a $44 million FASTLANE grant, the project will increase the efficiency of the port while reducing highway congestion. In addition to improving the movement of freight, the project will also improve safety by removing six railroad crossings and relocating the lead train track onto the port’s property.

Generating more than $1.5 trillion in U.S. foreign trade each year, U.S. ports and inland waterways support good jobs for working class families and are vital to our transportation and supply network. Projects like this port expansion are a priority for the Department and this Administration because of the economic benefits they generate for years to come.

The Trump Administration’s INFRA grant program advances the pre-existing FASTLANE grant program that was established as part of the FAST Act of 2015. For the current round of competition, the INFRA Grant program will make approximately $1.5 billion available to projects that are in line with the Administration’s principles to help rebuild, repair and revitalize America’s crumbling infrastructure.



Date of Speech: MARCH 27, 2018





MARCH 27, 2018


Good morning and thank you for that kind introduction Griff (Lynch, Executive Director of GPA). MARAD has had a long and productive relationship with the Georgia Ports Authority, and it’s an honor to be here to celebrate this important groundbreaking.

The United States has always been a great maritime nation, but we know that if we are to continue as the number one economy in the world – with the world’s strongest military – we must continue to invest in our maritime industry.

Because in today’s fiercely competitive global shipping market, a profitable and resilient marine transportation industry is vital to our national security, and to a growing, prospering economy.

At its best, the maritime industry is a diverse, interconnected, multi-modal enterprise seamlessly integrated with landside transportation modes.

We’re not there yet, as a nation, but the Port of Savannah International Multi-Modal Connector is a significant step toward that ideal. Not only for this region but nationally.
In truth, projects like these are a model for the rest of the nation – something we continually promote. It’s the result of smart, collaborative planning, hard work, and strategic investment.

By expanding your multi-modal capacity and interconnectivity, the movement of containers through this port to and from major population centers across the nation will be drastically improved.

As a nation, we do not have the luxury of allowing our ports to become obsolete… or for our rivers and waterways, locks and dams that support inland waterborne commerce to slowly decay. We must respond, or as an industry suffer a slow death.

We must stop conceding new technologies and market share to our international competitors. The goal is to make maritime commercial transportation a fast and routine option for your customers to get their goods to market.

Fortunately, our industry has a proven track record of long-lasting economic benefits from these types of major infrastructure investments.

Smart intermodal investments create jobs, ease congestion, reduce pollution and fuel consumption while decreasing wear and tear on highways.

Ports are powerful economic engines in their own right. But those that have quick, efficient connections to roads, rail, pipelines, inland waterways, and can move regional products to international markets, are especially potent.
That’s your future here at the Port of Savannah, once this project is complete.

Its impact on cargo fluidity in this region, eliminating time and money-wasting delays now choking freight movement out of the port, will translate into economic benefits nationwide.

These are the kinds of “transformative” projects highlighted in the president’s new infrastructure plan. In addition to encouraging greater state, local and private investment in major infrastructure projects, the infrastructure plan will dramatically accelerate and simplify complex review processes that stall, and sometimes kill, important projects.

Its provisions will incentivize new technologies and alternative methods that transform the way projects are completed. We’re really hoping that it serves as a fresh opportunity — and a catalyst — to re-energize our industry and stimulate long overdue investments in maritime infrastructure.

As an industry we face many challenges, of that we can all agree. But if managed properly — and creatively — like you are doing here in Savannah, hard challenges will only push us to greater heights and usher in an exciting future for the U.S. maritime industry.

On behalf of my colleagues at the maritime administration and transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, I congratulate you. Thank you and good luck.