USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

As Prepared: Vessel Transfer for NSMV I EMPIRE STATE

Thursday, November 16, 2023



AT Vessel Transfer for NSMV I EMPIRE STATE


Good morning! 

On behalf of the entire Maritime Administration, I am very pleased to be here today as we deliver the very first National Security Multi-Mission Vessel, EMPIRE STATE to the State University of New York Maritime College.  Today is a historic day—one that many of us will never forget.   

 First, I would like to thank Congressman Courtney and Congresswoman Scanlon and the many other Congressional Members and Professional Staff for authorizing and appropriating this innovative program and process. Without their leadership and support we couldn’t have seen this restoration of a critical shipbuilding capability and the 1500 workers now employed at the Philadelphia shipyard!  

Next I want to thank Captain Elizabeth (Beth) Christman, the Ship Sponsor. Captain Christman is a 1987 graduate of SUNY Maritime, a licensed Unlimited Master Mariner, and we are honored that she has agreed to be part of this historic achievement! 

I also want thank Admiral Mike Alfultis, President of SUNY Maritime College, for his steadfast work to that championed this program and the work of his team to prepare to receive EMPIRE STATE. Without your leadership this program would not have been possible. And we congratulate him on his announced well-earned retirement at the end of the spring semester.  I wish you and Kim a peaceful, happy and long retirement! 

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. 

Thanks also for the critical work by 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 to 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. Your collective efforts have helped create a new model for government-industry ship construction in the United States.  Thank you so very much! 

And finally, to the leaders across many administrations – political as well as career – who allowed us to explore an unprecedented course of action – to build a common class of training ships.  Many of those former MARAD and DoT leaders are here today to see a program that they fostered along in their tenure: Secretary Chao, Dave Matsuda, Chip Jaenichen, Mark (Buz) Buzby, Mike Rodriguez, Dick Balzano, and Doug Burnett. Thank you to all of you! 

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 for a few words about this vessel and what it represents.  

 Big picture: this vessel represents a path to the future for BOTH the U.S. mariner workforce and U.S. shipbuilding! And I believe this vessel is quite literally the beginning of the revitalization of our maritime industry! 

First, the workforce.  

It has been a very busy summer of travel for me. Earlier this week I was at the Naval War college moderating a panel discussion among senior military leaders from various countries where we shared perspectives of how best to protect maritime commerce around the globe.  Last week, while in London I met with the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization, leaders from the UK Department for Transportation, and leaders in the global shipping industry.  Then earlier this summer I met with maritime leaders in government from both Vietnam and Korea.  

In all of these engagements the one consistent throughline that everyone spoke about was the critical nature of the mariner workforce—and more to the point, the mariner workforce shortage.   

The global community needs more mariners.  And those mariners must be highly trained and efficient. 

Happily, with each new engagement, it became clearer and clearer that what sets the United States apart in our approach to this global problem is this state-of-the-art vessel right behind us, and the young people across the nation that will learn their craft upon it.   

This purpose-built vessel and the four others just like it will—  

revolutionize the Nation's training capabilities, 

better equip the United States to increase our ranks of a well-trained, highly efficient maritime workforce,  

improve our security interests at home and around the world, and  

bolster critical sectors of our economy—thereby securing our spot as a global leader in the maritime industry! 

Second, and this one is huge, in constructing this vessel MARAD used a commercial business model that resulted in savings to the tune of hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars and several years in development and construction time!  Which means that the NSMV will serve as a real-life example of what our nation can do when we use a maritime commercial business model that reduces risk to the U.S. Government.  

 Lastly, we must not forget what the “M” in NSMV stands for.  This vessel is “multi missioned” and in addition to being a training vessel, it will also be part of MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet 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! I am thankful for the senior FEMA officials here today, and I know we will welcome a larger group in the near term to fully understand and integrate with these capabilities to support “whole of government”  response. 

I have watched with amazement the finishing of construction of the EMPIRE STATE, and it has, indeed, been my great honor to have been part of this once-in-a-generation investment!  I cannot wait see how she will serve the cadets that train upon her, and the lives that will be positively impacted because of her.  

 I am very proud of the work that this team has pulled off, but, and I am proud of what this ship means for the future of the American maritime industry as a whole.  

Bravo Zulu to all of you! 

Intro for Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg 

I would now like to introduce Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg.  

Deputy Secretary Trottenberg provides leadership and strategic vision as the Department’s Chief Operating Officer. She leads the Department’s implementation efforts for the Inflation Reduction Act and the $660 billion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including building out the Joint Office for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure with Department of Energy, and dispersing $78 billion in discretionary grants. As the New York City Transportation Commissioner from 2014 to 2020, she ensured the safe, efficient, and equitable operations of the New York City transportation network, led it through its Covid-19 response and recovery, and implemented the landmark Vision Zero program. Trottenberg served in the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary and Under Secretary for Policy at USDOT, where she developed and implemented policies to serve the needs of local and state transportation agencies. Previously, Trottenberg spent 12 years in the US Senate, serving Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Barbara Boxer.  

Please welcome Deputy Secretary Trottenberg.