WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, yesterday introduced S. 3930, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act. The legislation would authorize funding for programs associated with the United States Merchant Marine, ensure military sealift capacity for national security, improve port infrastructure, and promote the use of marine transportation infrastructure. The bill would also reauthorize the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act of 1998.
“Our nation’s maritime assets expand commerce and protect our country,” said Wicker. “This bill would support and strengthen programs vital to MARAD’s mission and would help maintain the viability of America’s maritime industry, which is critical to our national security. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this important legislation across the finish line.”
The Maritime Administration Reauthorization Act would:
- Provide COVID-19-related relief for ships participating in the Maritime Security Program (MSP), so that they can continue to support military sealift.
- Authorize the Tanker Security Program – based on the successful MSP framework – to support U.S. maritime sealift capacity for military refueling operations.
- Improve MARAD’s Marine Highways program by streamlining eligibility and application requirements. These reforms would increase eligibility for the program and obligate the Executive Branch to be more timely in their review of applications.
- Authorize funding for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through ports and intermodal connections. The bill would also make small ports more competitive under the grant program.
- Reauthorize the National Ocean Partnership Program to increase federal coordination of ocean research across the federal government.
- Authorize a Community College Maritime Career Training Grants Program to provide funding for community and technical colleges to develop, offer, or improve educational or career training programs for maritime workers along the nation’s coasts, the Great Lakes, Mississippi River System, and other inland waterways.
- Authorize increased funding for the Small Shipyard Grant program and full funding for the Title XI maritime guaranteed loan program to support the maritime industrial base.
- Reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Commissioned Officer Corps. The NOAA Corps supports the collection of ocean and atmospheric data vital for predicting weather and managing ocean resources.
- Enact a number of reforms to support the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
Click here to read the bill.