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As Prepared: Naming/Christening for NSMV I EMPIRE STATE

Thursday, November 16, 2023



AT Naming/Christening for NSMV I EMPIRE STATE 


On behalf of the Maritime Administration, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and the Biden-Harris Administration, I am very pleased to be here today as we christen and formally name the first National Security Multi-Mission Vessel, EMPIRE STATE! Today we make history, in this historic city.   

It is rather astounding to think that it was only a bit more than 3 years ago that Philly Shipyard was selected by Tote Services to begin building this new class of ship.  

The United States has never had—and has never built—such vessels before, and the construction of these vessels - as national assets - is an incredible accomplishment.  

I want to acknowledge the people and teams that contributed to making the NSMV a reality as there have been many involved to keeping this program moving.  

First, thank you to Representatives Mary Gay Scanlon and Donald Norcross for honoring us with their presence today—as they have done before on several occasions—and for all of their incredible work in the Congress in support of this effort. 

I also want to thank Governor Josh Shapiro for being here today.  Governor, I can tell you that we are very grateful for the support that the State of Pennsylvania and City of Philadelphia have made over the years to enable this shipyard to continue their good work.   

 And of course, if it wasn’t for the many Congressional Members and Professional Staff authorizing and appropriating this innovative program and process, we couldn’t have seen this restoration of a critical shipbuilding capability and the thousand plus workers now employed at the yard.  These are great jobs, AND this is a great shipbuilding success story that the Nation must do more of. 

Next, I thank Admiral Mike Alfultis, who leads SUNY Maritime College, for his steadfast work as part of the Academies’ consortium to champion this program and the work of his team to prepare to receive EMPIRE STATE. 

I am also grateful for the efforts of MARAD’s contracted Vessel Construction Manager, TOTE Services, led by President Jeff Dixon; and of course, Philly Shipyard, led by President Steinar Nerbovik. 

I’ll not forget to thank Herbert Engineering and the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center both offering early support on the critical design and business case assessment work to confirm the long-term viability of building these ships. 

AND Let me say how incredibly proud I am of the MARAD team members who have worked on this program for many years. Some of the critical players here include Kevin Tokarski, Delia Davis, Chris Moore, Richard Fontana, Laila Linares, Paul Gilmore, Rob Asselin, David Heller, Ken Egbuna and Erica Williams, Ryan Kabacinski (Ka-ba-sin-ski) and many more, all of whom kept this project moving providing me with real time updates about progress and challenges.  Your collective efforts have helped create a new model for government-industry ship construction in the United States. Thank you so very much!

Lastly, to the leaders across many administrations – political as well as career – that allowed us to explore an unprecedented course of action – to build a common class of training ships.  Many of those former MARAD leaders are here today to see a program that they had fostered along in their tenure: Dave Matsuda, Chip Jaenichen, (not here) Mark (Buz) Buzby, Mike Rodriguez, Dick Balzano.  

There are many people to be thankful for support on the NSMV program, and not to go astray in missing a name … I thank all of you all – from industry, labor, government and the maritime academies and their alumni for your support in this great adventure. 

Now, lets talk a little about this magnificent ship! 

First, its name—the National Security Multi-mission Vessel.  While it is a mouthful to say, trust me, it is appropriately named, as it is indeed, a national asset that meets many mission sets.     

This vessel, which has been built to the highest safety and environmental standards from the United States Coast Guard, the American Bureau of Shipping, and the International Maritime Organization will be part of MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet. In this role, as an NDRF vessel, the NSMV will be equipped and available to support major federal relief and response efforts—providing medical capabilities and berthing for up to 1,000 first responders, recovery workers, and crew.   

Second, and equally important, without a doubt the NSMVs, starting with SUNY, will revolutionize mariner education at our State Maritime Academies.  Specifically, these vessels will help to sustain world-class, U.S. maritime training operations by equipping young American mariners with the most modern and adaptable training platform.  The young people that will train on this ship are the future of America’s Maritime Industry! Each and every one of them doing their part to shore up America’s mariner shortage—and it is important that they have modern equipment and facilities upon which to train.  

Speaking of modern equipment and facilities, take it from me, if you haven’t already taken a tour of the vessel, please take it! You will be amazed at the training facilities and new capabilities built into this design. Each NSMV includes state-of-the-art multi-purpose classrooms, equipment simulators, and a separate engineering control room and training bridge.  Once you get a chance to tour the ship, you will understand, as I do, why these ships will be the envy of every seagoing nation. 

Lastly, this initiative, starting back in 2008 with many of the people I’ve already mentioned, successfully met the task of making sure that these multi mission national vessel assets deliver exactly what the Nation needs while saving American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and several years in development and construction time.  This achievement alone is an unparalleled feat!  The lessons that the example of the NSMV can teach our nation about shipbuilding are numerous and include the use of a commercial business model that reduces risk to the U.S. Government and mitigates the potential for cost overruns and unnecessary delays.  

I have watched with amazement the finishing of construction of the EMPIRE STATE and can’t wait for her to sail on sea trials in July. I am also very proud of the work that this team has pulled off, and I am proud of what this ship means for the future of the maritime industry as a whole. Bravo Zulu to all of you! 

 Thank you!