Philly shipyard has been selected to build the new National Security Multi-Mission vessels, the U.S. Maritime Administration and TOTE Services said Wednesday.
TOTE Services, as the program’s Vessel Construction Manager, commissioned Philly Shipyard to construct the first two NSMV training ships with options for the additional three ships.
The initial two-ship order is said to be valued at $630 million.
The contract award is a huge win for Philly Shipyard, which has been transitioning to “grey hulls” after its commercial Jones Act shipbuilding backlog fell to zero more than a year ago.
The ships will be owned and operated by MARAD and serve as maritime training ships for the nation’s maritime academies, as well provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support in times of need. The first vessel will be used by SUNY Maritime, replacing the Empire State VI.
Delivery of the first vessels was initially planned to begin 2022, but Philly Shipyard said the first two vessels will be delivered in spring and winter 2023.
Each NMSV will be equipped with state-of-the-art training facilities, including dual engine rooms and pilot houses with space to train up to 600 cadets at sea. As part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, each ship will also feature modern hospital facilities, a helicopter pad and the ability to accommodate up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. The vessels will also offer roll-on/roll-off ramp and container storage capacity for use during disaster relief or delivery of preferenced cargoes.
“Investing in maritime education creates more American jobs,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby. “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.”
TOTE Services was selected by MARAD in May 2019 to be the Vessel Construction Manager (VCM) for the NSMV program.
The construction contract, which could be worth up to $1.5 billion if all five ships are built in series, comes at a vital time for Philly Shipyard.
Following the March 2019 delivery of the second of two containerships to Matson, the yard began pursuing government newbuild and repair contracts due to the lack of newbuild orders in the Jones Act market. It ended up winning repair and maintenance work on the MARAD vessels FSS Antares and the FSS Pollux, as well as design work for the U.S. Navy’s Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform, but the company still warned of a lack of an order backlog heading into 2020.
Philly Shipyard said the NSMV contract award will allow it to reconstitute its workforce in preparation for the start the new production work scheduled to begin in early 2021. The total workforce at Philly Shipyard at full capacity is approximately 1,200.
“Philly Shipyard is honored to be selected by TOTE to build these sophisticated vessels,” said Steinar Nerbovik, Philly Shipyard President and CEO. “We are thankful for the trust that TOTE has placed in us, and for all of the support we have received over the last year, especially from our unions, and our local and federal stakeholders. Securing this award is a major milestone in our strategy to reposition the yard for government and commercial projects. We look forward to delivering on our promises.”