Philly Shipyard Inc. has been selected to build up to five new ships to serve as training vessels for the U.S. state maritime academies, including California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo.
“This exciting and positive news, coming at a time of tremendous disruption for Cal Maritime and all of higher education, (and) is a welcome reminder that we can all look forward to better days,” Cal Maritime President Thomas Cropper said in a statement.
The new class of ships is the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel.
“Cal Maritime will continue providing world-class training and education to generations of new leaders for the maritime and related industries. Our current cadets, faculty, staff, alumni and partners can be assured that our brightest days are in front of us,” Cropper stated.
The new 600-foot ship would replace the 500-foot TS Golden Bear III, converted from the decommissioned USNS Maury and the fourth training ship at the academy. Construction on the ship began in 1986. The ship saw brief service in the Navy before being decommissioned and delivered to the academy in 1996. First- and third-year cadets train on the vessel.
The new ship will include classrooms, a training bridge, lab spaces and an auditorium. Each vessel has space to train up to 600 cadets at sea, the statement said.
“This new world-class vessel, constructed at an American shipyard, is part of our much-needed program to replace the aging training vessels currently operated by state maritime academies,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the statement.
In addition to being a training vessel, the ships are designed to fill numerous roles, including support of federal response to national disasters.
“The design includes state-of-the-art hospital facilities, a helicopter landing pad and the ability to berth up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. Alongside its humanitarian capacities, the NSMV has a roll-on/roll-off ramp and container storage allowing it to provide aid to damaged ports,” the statement said.
Tote Services LLC contracted as the construction manager with the U.S. Maritime Administration. The first two vessels are scheduled to be delivered in the spring and winter of 2023, the statement said.
The Golden Bear is the newest of the vessels slated for replacement, so it will likely remain in service through the end of the decade, the statement said.
“Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby said in the statement. “By the selection of Philly Shipyard Inc. as the construction shipyard for the NSMV, this effort is not only bolstering the U.S. Merchant Marine, but the U.S. economy and vital transportation infrastructure as well.”
Funding for the first two training vessels has received bipartisan support in Congress, with additional funding in the yet-to-be passed appropriation bills for fiscal year 2021.
The full contract is estimated at $1.5 billion, $650 million of which is going to the initial engineering, design and construction of the first two ships