The Maritime Administration’s (MARAD’s)
mission is “to foster, promote and develop the
merchant marine and maritime industry of the
United States” in order to meet the economic,
environmental and security needs of the nation
including infrastructure, industry and labor. The
agency also seeks to ensure that the United States
maintains adequate shipbuilding and repair services, efficient ports, effective intermodal water
and land connections and transportation routes,
and sufficient reserve shipping capacity for use in
time of national emergency.
The agency is the principal advocate for waterborne transportation systems and the federal programs supporting them
within the Department of Transportation. Changing demographics, trade patterns, economic growth and consumer
demand are straining the U.S. transportation infrastructure,
intensifying congestion and increasing transportation-related
pollutants. Expansion of waterborne services to accommodate
freight growth, relieve congestion and improve air quality along
highways, and greater integration of waterborne shipping into
the overall transportation system, is an agency priority.
MARAD has both the regulatory and promotional responsibility to ensure a U.S.-flag merchant service that provides
logistical support for the military in times of war or other
crisis. Given the challenges of sustaining a U.S.-flag fleet
in international trade in the current world market, MARAD
is continuing to look to a combined effort of industry and
government to make the U.S.-flag fleet operation more competitive in the global market.
Shipping provides a vital link for mobilizing U.S. armed
forces for military contingencies and supporting emergency
response. Auxiliary sealift provided by the U.S.-flag Merchant
Marine has played a vital role in American successes in wars
and international crises. MARAD’s Ready Reserve Force vessels
stand “Ready, Reliable and Focused” on providing support to
U.S. armed forces during conflicts or to provide global human-
itarian aid when needed.
MARAD provides the programs for the integration of
civilian support for military requirements. Many of these programs provide not only a planning aspect, but a platform for
discussion with the military on its priorities.
Maritime Security Program (MSP)/Voluntary
Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA)
The MSP and VISA programs make commercial ships
and intermodal sealift capacity available to the U.S. military.
These programs are designed primarily for sustainment sealift and maintaining sealift capacity when the initial surge
period has passed.
VISA includes nearly all of the U.S.-flag oceangoing cargo
fleet. VISA participants commit specific vessel capacity, intermodal equipment and management services to the Department
The Ready Reserve Force fast sealift ship SS Algol, right, fast sealift
ship SS Capella and the auxiliary crane ship SS Grand Canyon State sit
moored together in Alameda, Calif., Sept. 28, 2016. These ships are
more than 40 years old and are maintained to be ready for deployment
in five days or less.