Omnibus Appropriations Bill Includes $300 million for Training Ship Replacement

March 26, 2018

SUNY Maritime College’s 57 Year-Old Training Ship Empire State VI Included

Bronx – On Friday, March 23, President Donald J. Trump signed the fiscal year 2018 federal budget, including $300 million to begin replacing the nation’s aging fleet of state maritime academy training ships, including SUNY Maritime College’s 57-year old training ship, the Empire State VI. As the oldest vessel in the fleet, it will be the first to be replaced.

The Maritime Administration, a branch of the federal Department of Transportation, owns a fleet of six state maritime academy training ships, located at academies across the country. The ships play a vital role in educating and training American mariners, who work onboard commercial ships around the country and overseas. The six maritime academies – SUNY Maritime College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Maine Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Texas Maritime Academy and California Maritime Academy – produce more than 70 percent of U.S. licensed Coast Guard officers each year.

SUNY Maritime College is the largest of the six academies, with nearly 1,800 students. Of those students, more than 1,100 are pursuing U.S. Coast Guard licenses in addition to their bachelor’s degrees.

The approved funding will be used to build a new purpose-built ship, the first of the nation’s National Security Multi-Mission Vessels. This new class of vessel is designed and built for the joint purposes of training mariners, and humanitarian aid during times of national need.

In recent years, Empire State VI was activated by the federal government to assist the clean-up and recovery efforts following hurricanes Maria, Irma, Sandy, and Katrina. The ship was essential for delivering supplies and housing disaster-relief workers. The new vessel will meet those needs more efficiently and effectively, as it will be built and equipped with flexible and fully wired classrooms, workshops, and laboratories that can be adapted to serve as hospital facilities, and other mission-specific spaces to be employed in times of need. The ship will also be built with roll-on, roll-off ramps to more easily and quickly load and discharge cargo, and be energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The ship will be constructed in American shipyards, providing manufacturing jobs for Americans and supporting the nation’s maritime industry. The maritime industry is an essential part of our nation’s economy and plays a critical role in national security. Each year, the industry creates more than $100 billion in output, employing 1.5 million Americans and paying tens of billions in wages and benefits. American mariners also play a vital role in our national security, providing logistical support for operational and deployed forces.

The new program was a dedicated effort led by Minority Leader of the Senate Charles Schumer, Representative Joseph Crowley, Senator Kristin Gillibrand, and the New York Delegation, as well as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the Maritime Administration. Their vital advocacy and support to replace the training ship provides the first new build training ship in the nearly 150-year history of merchant marine officer training in the United States.

"Senate Minority Leader Schumer, Congressman Crowley, Senator Gillibrand, and the New York Delegation had the foresight to address the need to replace the aging fleet as a way to boost our maritime infrastructure and to get the latest technology available to our students," said SUNY Chairman of the Board H. Carl McCall. "We are so grateful to them, and to Transportation Secretary Chao and the Maritime Administration."

"Over the years, Empire State VI and its crew have contributed greatly to rescue and rebuild efforts from Hurricane Katrina to, more recently, Hurricanes Maria and Irma through model leadership and dedication to service work," said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. "Investing in the replacement of this ship will generate more applied learning opportunities for our students and enable technological updates that will benefit many outside of New York State’s borders. We are thankful and excited for Maritime College."

"Without the vital support of Representative Crowley, Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand and the entire New York delegation, as well as Secretary Chao and the Maritime Administration, SUNY Maritime College would not have received this extraordinary news," said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime College. "With a replacement training ship on the horizon for SUNY Maritime, we are assured we can continue to provide the vital education and training necessary to ensure the security and safety of our waterways, our citizens and our nation."

"Each of the state maritime academies and our states’ elected officials have worked tirelessly for years to secure these National Security Multi-Mission Vessels," said Bill Brennan, president Maine Maritime Academy and chairman of the state maritime academy consortium. "I would like to thank in particular Senator Susan Collins of Maine for her efforts to secure this funding. These ships will ensure that our academy education and training remains among the best in the world, and secure the future of the nation’s vital merchant mariner workforce."

"SUNY Maritime College serves a critical role in our Throggs Neck community, the state of New York, and the nation by training the next generation of mariners," said Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. "These funds will allow SUNY Maritime College to replace the aging Empire State VI with a new, state-of-the-art vessel so our future mariners can acquire the expertise they need to meet the needs of our maritime industry and keep Americans safe."

About SUNY Maritime College

Combining classroom and lab learning with summer sea terms aboard the college training ship and industry internships, SUNY Maritime College prepares its 1,800 students to be leaders in the shipping, transportation and power generation industries, as well as in government, military and business. The 55-acre campus is on a peninsula between the Long Island Sound and East River, 30 minutes from midtown Manhattan. Find out more at

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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