In addition to promoting U.S.-flag vessel construction, the U.S. Maritime Administration has become increasingly focused on programs ensuring cleaner shipboard operations and proper disposal of these assets once they become obsolete.
'The three most pressing environmental issues facing the maritime industry are invasive species in ballast water, energy use, and air emissions,' said Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee's seapower and expeditionary forces subcommittee on July 14.
Industry and federal agencies have asked MarAd to provide technical advice, data and help with developing policy, regulation, research and studies in these areas. In the area of ballast water management, MarAd is helping to fund feasibility studies on the West and East coasts and in the Great Lakes. Invasive species transported and discharged into the nation's water pose a major environmental hazard, Matsuda said.
The agency also remains on course to dispose of obsolete vessels in the National Defense Reserve Fleet. The Transportation Department said in April that 52 ships moored in the reserve fleet in Suisun Bay will be removed as part of an agreement with environmental groups that was filed in federal court in Sacramento, Calif.
MarAd has removed five ships since November 2009 and has committed to remove 20 of the ships from Suisan Bay that are in the poorest condition prior to Sept. 30, 2012. Before their removal, these ships will be sent to a local dry dock for cleaning to remove marine growth from the underwater hull and flaking paint from areas above the water. All other ships at the site will be cleaned of flaking paint within two years and removed from the fleet by Sept. 30, 2017.
MarAd's two other fleet storage sites are in James River, Va., and Beaumont, Texas, where numerous other obsolete vessels have been removed and sent to U.S. breakers for scrapping.