Vessels Could Create Jobs and a New Market for U.S. Shipbuilders

The U.S. Maritime Administration released a report detailing new designs for shipping vessels specifically engineered for America's Marine Highways. Production of these efficient, environmentally-friendly vessels could bolster the domestic shipbuilding industry by creating new jobs and strengthening regional economies.

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"This is another step in helping America's Marine Highways move our economy and relieve congestion on our roads," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The U.S. maritime industry is vital to our economy and our security. These vessel designs will bolster both in a way that maximizes efficiency while minimizing environmental impact."

The new vessel designs also meet a portion of the U.S. military's sealift needs in times of war or during national emergencies.

Eleven designs have been created for new shipping vessels that can transport cargoes that would otherwise be trucked over congested roadways. The innovative designs focus primarily on roll-on roll-off vessels intended to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles, trucks and trailers or railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels.

The designs includesix roll-on roll-off (RO/RO) vessels, threecombination RO/RO-container carriers, a feeder containership, andaRO/RO-passenger ferry. The RO/RO and RO/RO-containervessels carry various types of vehicles, but are primarily intended for tractor-trailersand stackable containers. The feeder container ship can support standard-sized containers stacked both below and above deck, and the RO/RO-passenger ferry can transport tractor trailers along withtheir drivers.

"These designs are a road-map to a brighter future for the men and women who serve our nation at sea," said Unites States Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. "By bringing cutting-edge technology to America's maritime workforce, our country can be a global leader in shipbuilding."

MARAD has also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Navy under which MARAD and the Navy could provide up to $800,000 to advance two or three of these new concept designs to the next stage of design development, with the ultimate goal of constructing multiple vessels in U.S. shipyards.

Although the report contains only a preliminary economic-impact analysis, MARAD is currently developing a more comprehensive economic analysis of marine highways operations.

Transportation Secretary LaHood formally launched the America's Marine Highway program in 2010, a new initiative to move more cargo shipments onto U.S. waterways. Since that time, the Department has designated 18 marine highway corridors and provided $215 million in funding for marine highway and port projects.

Click here to view report and ship designs.

Source: MARAD