Ships & Shipping

The Maritime Administration has a wide range of activities dealing with ships and shipping.

The agency owns and maintains a fleet of cargo ships, the Ready Reserve Force, which stand ready to provide surge sea-lift to the Department of Defense in the event of armed conflict or other emergency.
Those ships are a component of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) which serves as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergencies.

The Maritime Administration manages the Maritime Security Program and the Voluntary Inter-modal Sea-lift Agreement program, which leverage commercial ships and inter-modal assets to provide sea-lift for the U.S. Armed Forces.

The agency’s Marine Highway Initiative and the Ferry Initiative promote the greater use of America’s waterways.

The Cargo Preference program provides the technical expertise so that most U.S. government-impelled cargo travels on U.S. registered ships. We provide technical expertise and loan guarantees for shipyards and shipbuilding.

The Maritime Administration provides assistance and expertise for shippers, and expertise in transportation financing and fair and reasonable rate determinations; this agency must approve the transfer of a commercial ship from U.S. to foreign registry if it is to take place; and the agency’s also administers certain aspects of the Jones Act, which is the federal law that ensures vessels going from one U.S. port to another are of U.S. registry.

The Maritime Administration owns and maintains the only nuclear-powered commercial cargo ship ever built in the United States, the NS Savannah.

The agency is also the designated disposal agent for non-combatant government vessels that weigh more than 1,500 tons.