Military Cargoes

The Maritime Administration initiates and recommends regulations and procedures for the Department of Defense (DOD) to follow in administering cargo preference. Program efforts concentrate on meetings and discussions with DOD component commands, contractors, suppliers, freight forwarders, and shipping companies to focus attention on meeting the needs of all constituents within the context of U.S.-flag carriage requirements.

Cargo shipping for DOD is subject to the Military Cargo Preference Act of 1904 which requires that items procured for, intended for use by, or owned by military departments or defense agencies, must be carried exclusively (100 percent) on U.S.-flag vessels, if available at reasonable rates. Most DOD containerized cargo is booked on U.S.-flag vessels by the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) for the various DOD shipper services as part of the Defense Transportation System (DTS). Shipping via DTS allows DOD shippers access to pre-negotiated ocean shipping contracts providing cost and convenience benefits.

MARAD’s functions with regard to the Military Cargo Preference Act of 1904:
To determine the availability of U.S.-flag service when that availability is questioned by another agency, contractor, or program participant.

To provide guidance concerning the reasonableness of ocean freight rates to Federal agencies and participants in programs sponsored by those agencies.

To monitor the compliance of Government agencies and commercial shippers subject to the preference statutes.

To report to Congress on compliance with the cargo preference laws by Federal agencies.

For contact information regarding the Military Cargoes group, please visit the below link:
Military Cargoes – Contacts


Customer Outreach
Tel: (202) 366-4610
Fax: (202) 366-5522
Contact us at 202-366-4610 if help is needed in locating U.S.-flag service