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Strategic Sealift

Role and Purpose This office administers the Maritime Administration’s strategic sealift related programs. These programs provide commercial and government-owned shipping capability in times of national emergency and to meet Department of Defense strategic sealift requirements.

Major Activities The Associate Administrator works directly for the Maritime Administrator.

The Ship Operations Office manages and maintains the fleet of inactive, Government-owned vessels in the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), including the Ready Reserve Force (RRF). The RRF currently has 51 vessels. It provides a ready source of “surge” shipping, available when needed by the Department of Defense’s U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), to support rapid deployment of U.S. military forces. All NDRF activities, including the RRF, are funded from appropriations transferred to the Maritime Administration from Navy’s National Defense Sealift Fund in accordance with a 1997 Memorandum of Agreement between the Maritime Administration and USTRANSCOM.

The Emergency Preparedness office develops and maintains plans for carrying out transportation support activities for any military mobilizations required due to a war or a national emergency. The office also maintains emergency resource evaluation data; helps formulate international and national plans for maritime emergency and mobilization activities; and operates the Maritime Administration’s emergency operations and telecommunications centers.

The Sealift Support office manages the Maritime Security Program and the Voluntary Inter-modal Sealift Agreement. These programs are designed to assure the availability of sufficient U.S. commercial sealift capability and the U.S. inter-modal system to sustain U.S. military operations overseas in an emergency. This office also administers the transfer of U.S. ships to foreign interests.

The Ship Disposal Programs office is responsible for the administration and management of the disposal of non-retention National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels. Non-retention vessels are those merchant-type ships that have reached the end of their useful, economic life in service to the U.S. Government. The environmentally sound disposal of these vessels is accomplished through dismantlement/recycling, artificial reefing, sale for retrofit and reuse, deep-sinking in conjunction with Department of Defense at-sea exercises and donation to qualified non-profit organizations. The office is also responsible for management of the decommissioning activities of the Nuclear Ship Savannah which is a retention vessel.

Merchant mariners have made contributions to support our Nation during all of our national conflicts, but particularly so during World War II.

During this war, the United States conducted the greatest sealift in history to move troops and their equipment to many locations around the world and periodically resupply them. The United States mobilized its national resources to quickly produce thousands of cargo vessels to carry these troops and supplies. The mariners who operated these vessels were educated through U.S. Maritime Service training programs. It is estimated that over 200,000 mariners served in the merchant marine throughout World War II.

During the wartime years from 1941 to 1945, United States cargo vessels faced a number of dangers that included attack by enemy submarines, vessels and aircraft and mines. These vessels also faced all the natural perils at sea that mariners have faced for millennia. Thousands of our U.S. mariners were killed at sea, wounded or taken prisoner. Several estimates of the total number of mariners who perished during the war exceed 9,000.


Associate Administrator for Strategic Sealift
Kevin M. Tokarski

Deputy Associate Administrator Federal Sealift
Office of Ship Operations, Director
William H. Cahill

Douglas Harrington
Office of Ship Operations, Deputy Director

Office of Ship Disposal
Shaun Ireland, Director


Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Sealift
Anthony Fisher

Office of Cargo and Commercial Sealift
Jan S. Downing, Director

Office of Sealift Support
William McDonald, Director


Deputy Associate Administrator & National Coordinator for Maritime Education and Training
Dr. Shashi Kumar

Office of Maritime Labor and Training
Paul Gilmour, Acting Director

Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2018