United States Maritime Administration

The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation.

Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. The Maritime Administration is also charged with maintaining the health of the merchant marine, since commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security, and so the agency provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America's young people about the vital role the maritime industry plays in the lives of all Americans.


United States Maritime Administration
Seal of the U.S. Maritime Administration
Flag of the U.S. Maritime Administration
Agency overview
FormedMay 24, 1950
Preceding agency
  • Maritime Commission
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Agency executives
  • Mark H. Buzby, Administrator
  • Richard Balzano, Deputy Administrator
Parent agencyDepartment of Transportation

MARAD also maintains the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) as a ready source of ships for use during national emergencies, and assists the NDRF in fulfilling its role as the nation's fourth arm of defense, logistically supporting the military when needed.


When the United States Maritime Commission was abolished on May 24, 1950, its functions were split between the Federal Maritime Board which was responsible for regulating shipping and awarding subsidies for construction and operation of merchant vessels, and Maritime Administration, which was responsible for administering subsidy programs, maintaining the national defense reserve merchant fleet, and operating the United States Merchant Marine Academy.

In 1961, the Federal Maritime Board regulatory functions were assumed by the newly created Federal Maritime Commission, while the subsidy functions were assigned to the Maritime Subsidy Board of the Maritime Administration.

On August 6, 1981, MARAD came under control of the Department of Transportation thereby bringing all transportation programs under one cabinet-level department.


MARAD administers financial programs to develop, promote, and operate the U.S. Maritime Service and the U.S. Merchant Marine; determines services and routes necessary to develop and maintain American foreign commerce and requirements of ships necessary to provide adequate service on such routes; conducts research and development activities in the maritime field; regulates the transfer of U.S. documented vessels to foreign registries; maintains equipment, shipyard facilities, and reserve fleets of Government-owned ships essential for national defense.


  • Mark H. Buzby, Administrator
  • Richard Balzano, Deputy Administrator
  • David Tubman, Chief Counsel
  • Michael Novak, Director, Congressional and Public Affairs
  • Kevin Tokarski, Associate Administrator, Strategic Sealift
  • Rear Admiral Jack Buono, USMS, Superintendent, United States Merchant Marine Academy
  • Delia Davis, Associate Administrator, Administration
  • John P. Quinn, Associate Administrator, Environment and Compliance
  • Lauren Brand, Associate Administrator, Intermodal System Development
  • Owen Doherty, Associate Administrator, Business and Finance Development

Maritime Academies

The Maritime Administration collaborates extensively with stakeholders from all transportation sectors and modes in order to accomplish its mission to improve and strengthen the U.S. marine transportation system. MARAD operates one federal service academy and administers a Grant-In-Aid Program for six state-operated maritime academies:

Classification Name Location Notes
Federal United States Merchant Marine Academy Kings Point, New York One of the United States service academies
State California Maritime Academy Vallejo, California A campus of the California State University
State Maine Maritime Academy Castine, Maine A public post-secondary college and nautical training institution
State Massachusetts Maritime Academy Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts A regionally accredited, coeducational, state college
State Great Lakes Maritime Academy Traverse City, Michigan A division of Northwestern Michigan College
State SUNY Maritime College Bronx, New York A campus of the State University of New York
State Texas A&M Maritime Academy Galveston, Texas A branch campus of Texas A&M University

Students at these academies can graduate with appropriate United States Coast Guard licenses (Mate or Engineer) if they choose to take the Coast Guard License exam, and may become commissioned reserve officers in any branch of the service when graduating from USMMA or a ROTC scholarship from one of the other maritime schools.


The Maritime Subsidy Board negotiates contracts for ship construction and grants operating-differential subsidies to shipping companies.

Maritime Security Program

The Maritime Administrator is vested with the residual powers of the Director of the National Shipping Authority, which was established in 1951 to organize and direct emergency merchant marine operations.

The Maritime Security Program (MSP) authorizes MARAD to enter into contracts with U.S.-flag commercial ship owners to provide service during times of war or national emergencies. As of 2007, ten companies have signed contracts providing the MSP with a reserve of sixty cargo vessels.[2]

Past leadership

  • Harold E. Shear: October 19, 1981 – May 31, 1985
  • John A. Gaughan: November 26, 1985 – March 26, 1989
  • Warren G. Leback: October 11, 1989 – January 20, 1993
  • Albert J. Herberger: September 14, 1993 – June 30, 1997
  • Clyde J. Hart, Jr.: August 6, 1998 – December 2000
  • William G. Schubert: December 6, 2001 – February 11, 2005
  • Sean T. Connaughton: September 6, 2006 – January 2009
  • David T. Matsuda: September 6, 2009 – June 2013
  • Chip Jaenichen: September 2013 – January 13, 2017

See also


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