U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the $1.5 billion Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) omnibus appropriations package that includes a funding provision the California State University Maritime Academy’s new state-of-the-art training ship.

The newly funded ship is the fifth in a series of National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMV) designed specifically for America’s state maritime academies. It will replace Cal Maritime’s aging training ship Golden Bear and is expected to be delivered within the next three to five years.

“We are grateful for the funding of this new ship,” said Cal Maritime president Tom Cropper. “This moment is remarkable – it culminates eight years of work by the Consortium of State Maritime Academies and for the first time, provides brand new training vessels for our cadets.”

The new highly capable, modern and versatile NSMVs will be a major upgrade from the retired and retrofitted naval vessels currently used to train state maritime academy cadets. Each NSMV will feature numerous instructional spaces, a full training bridge, and accommodations for up to 600 cadets to train in a first-rate maritime academic environment at sea. The ships are also designed to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need.

The funding and ultimate delivery of the vessels comes after a longtime partnership that includes U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) administrators, state maritime academy presidents and legislators—all recognizing the critical need for excellence in maritime education as well as the increasing needs for disaster and humanitarian assistance at sea.

“On behalf of the Maritime Administration, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Biden-Harris Administration, we are extremely pleased to receive funding for the fifth National Security Multi-Mission Vessel,” said Acting MARAD Administrator Lucinda Lessley. “This investment represents a steadfast commitment to our maritime workforce development and our national security. The construction and delivery of these vessels also demonstrates a highly innovative and cost-effective shipbuilding program that has enabled government to draw on industry best practices.”

In May 2019, MARAD selected TOTE Services to be the vessel construction manager (VCM) for the NSMV program, and in April 2020, TOTE Services awarded Philly Shipyard a contract to construct up to five NSMVs.

The first vessel is currently under construction and scheduled to be delivered to SUNY Maritime College in 2023. The next three ships are designated for Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy and Texas A&M Maritime Academy, respectively.

The current training ships and the new NSMVs are owned by the federal government and part of MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, on custodial loan to the state maritime academies.


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