U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today introduced the bipartisan U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act. The $1.6 billion bill would invest in the maritime workforce, strengthen maritime infrastructure, and expand research and development into new technologies to advance fleet sustainability and innovation. The bill would also strengthen protections against sexual assault and sexual harassment at sea.
“This bill makes critical investments in America’s maritime workforce, shipyards and port infrastructure that are key to keeping our supply chains moving,” said Sen. Cantwell. “It will create a new innovation center to explore cleaner fuels and new technologies to boost resilience of our maritime fleet and ensure the U.S. maritime industry remains competitive well into the future.”
“A strong Maritime Administration is essential for our national and economic security. I am glad to support this bill, which would improve our marine highway system, help protect against sexual assault and harassment within our merchant fleet and at the Merchant Marine Academy, support maritime education, and reauthorize the port infrastructure development program,” Sen. Wicker said.
MARAD is the principle federal agency responsible for supporting the American maritime industry through financing, shipbuilding, workforce development and port infrastructure grant programs. The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 would authorize $1.6 billion to fund key programs including:
- $750 million -- Port Infrastructure Development Program
- $15 million -- Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program
- $318 million -- Maritime Security Program
- $120 million -- Tanker Security Program
- $40 million -- Small Shipyard Grant Program
- $112.8 million -- U.S. Merchant Marine Academy
- $80.7 million -- State maritime academies
- Requires a new National Maritime Strategy to help grow the maritime economy through shipbuilding, maritime trade, training and infrastructure.
- Establishes a Maritime Innovation Center to spur new developments including green maritime fuels and ship quieting technology, important for the recovery of marine mammals.
- Requires the Secretary of Transportation to develop a strategy to increase diversity at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
- Increases oversight and authorization for facility construction and modernization of the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
- Improves protections for midshipmen against sexual assault and sexual harassment including the Improving Protections for Midshipmen Act, and other provisions to increase enforcement of sexual assault offenses at sea, improve resources and communications for midshipmen to improve safety and oversight, as well as establishing an advisory body at the United States Merchant Marine Academy to ensure that addressing sexual assault and harassment remains a priority.
- Expands existing grant programs to increase the number of U.S. maritime workers, which will help meet the demand of the growing offshore wind industry.
- Requires new efforts to improve port infrastructure resiliency and disaster preparedness.
- The bill also includes provisions to identify, develop, and evaluate ship quieting technology to help reduce the impact of vessel noise on the environment, including orcas.
- The bill also includes a study to evaluate the impact of tire runoff at ports on salmon populations.