Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA)

Providing commercial sealift for a seamless, time-phased transition from peacetime to wartime operations.

The Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) program is a partnership between the U.S. Government and the maritime industry to provide the Department of Defense (DOD) with “assured access” to commercial sealift and intermodal capacity to support the emergency deployment and sustainment of U.S. military forces. Intermodal capacity includes dry cargo ships, equipment, terminal facilities and intermodal management services.

The VISA program is authorized under the Maritime Administration’s authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950, and the Maritime Security Act of 2003, and was approved as a DOD commercial sealift readiness program on January 30, 1997. The VISA document is available in Federal Register/Vol. 79, No. 209, 64462-64470, dated October 29, 2014.

The VISA program provides for a time-phased activation of state-of-the-art commercial intermodal equipment to coincide with DOD requirements while minimizing disruption to U.S. commercial operations. The VISA program can be activated in three stages as determined by DOD with each stage representing a higher level of capacity commitment. In Stage III participants must commit at least 50 percent of their capacity. Dry cargo vessels enrolled in the Maritime Security Program must commit 100 percent during Stage III.

U.S.-flag vessel operators that are not currently in the program can apply to the VISA program at any time throughout the year.

For specific VISA information please click the preferred item below:


Office of Sealift Support
202-493-2180 (fax)