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Maritime Administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590


ADMINISTRATORLucinda Lessley, Acting
Deputy AdministratorLucinda Lessley

MARAD develops and promotes the U.S. merchant marine and its operations and oversees emergency merchant ship operations.


The Maritime Administration (MARAD) was established by Reorganization Plan No. 21 of 1950 (5 U.S.C. app.). The Maritime Act of 1981 (46 U.S.C. 1601) transferred the Maritime Administration to the DOT.

MARAD manages programs that help develop and promote the U.S. merchant marine and its operations. It also organizes and directs emergency merchant ship operations.


MARAD serves as the DOT's waterborne transportation agency. Its programs promote waterborne transportation use, the seamless integration of waterborne transportation with other parts of the transportation system, and U.S. merchant marine viability. The Administration's activities involve ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, safety, and the environment. It also maintains the health of the merchant marine—commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities contribute significantly to national security. The Administration, therefore, supports current mariners, helps educate future mariners, and informs Americans about the maritime industry and how it benefits them. Recently, the Administration realigned its functions to be more effective as an industry promoter and to focus more attention on the environment and safety.

MARAD administers the Maritime Security Program, which maintains a core fleet of U.S.-flag, privately-owned ships that operate in international commerce. Under agreement, these ships are available to provide needed capacity, during war and national emergencies, to meet Department of Defense requirements.

It also administers the Ready Reserve Force program to facilitate deployment of U.S. military forces—rapidly and worldwide. The Force primarily supports transport of Army and Marine Corps unit equipment and combat support equipment. The Force also supports initial resupply during the critical surge period before commercial ships become available. The program provides nearly one-half of the Government-owned surge sealift capability.

Sources of Information

Archived Records

The "Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States" indicates that MARAD records have been assigned to record group 357.

Business Opportunities

To learn about doing business with MARAD, visit its "Business Services and Products" web page.

Career Opportunities

The "Mariners" web page has information on becoming a mariner and mariner opportunities.

The six maritime academies and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy educate students for service as officers in the U.S. Merchant Marine, U.S. Armed Forces, and Nation’s intermodal transportation system. | Email:

In 2020, MARAD ranked 228th among 411 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.

Contact Information

MARAD posts contact information on its "Maritime Contact Information" web page.

Data / Statistics

The "Data and Reports" web pages contain data that are organized into four broad categories: historical datasets, U.S.–international trade, U.S. vessel movements and port calls, and vessel fleet lists. The Office of Policy and Plans publishes statistical and economic analyses and reports on a variety of maritime transportation topics. | Email:

Federal Register

Significant documents and documents that MARAD recently published in the Federal Register are accessible online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Enacted in 1966, the FOIA took effect on July 4, 1967. The Act gives a right for accessing Federal agency records to any person, except a fugitive from the law. Some records, or portions of them, are shielded from disclosure by one or more of nine statutory exemptions or by specific harm that disclosure could cause. The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 require Federal agencies to use electronic information technology to expand access to and availability of FOIA documents. MARAD posts contact information for its FOIA officer and FOIA public liaison on its "Freedom of Information Act Contacts" web page. | Email:

The agency maintains an online document library. Before submitting a FOIA request, browse its electronic reading room or search for the desired information to determine if it is accessible, immediately and free of charge, without submitting a formal FOIA request.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

MARAD posts answers to FAQs on its website.


The "Glossary of Shipping Terms—2008" contains abbreviations, acronyms, initialisms, and words that its compilers selected from the rich vocabulary of the shipping business.


The MARAD vessel history database has information on vessels that have been or remain part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet and other vessels that were at one time owned, operated, or in the custody of MARAD or one of its predecessor agencies. Each database entry includes one or more images of vessel status cards—paper index cards that tell the story of a ship's career in Government service—and additional information when it is available. | Email:


A map of MARAD gateway offices is available on the "Gateway Offices" web page.

MARAD maintains a deepwater port location and status map online. The "Deepwater Ports Map" web page has links to information on applications that are under review, that have been approved or disapproved, and that have been withdrawn.

Marine Environment

In a three-page special report "Marine Environment—Protecting the World's Waters," Carolyn E. Junemann and Koichi Yoshida discuss the following topics: anti-fouling systems, cooperation with the International Maritime Organization, oil booms, port waste, and underwater sound.

Marine Highway Routes

The Marine Highway system comprises 25 marine highway routes serving as extensions of the surface transportation system.

Maritime Advisory System

U.S. maritime alerts provide basic information—date and time, incident type, location—on reported maritime security threats to U.S. maritime industry interests. In some situations, an alert may be issued to refute unsubstantiated claims. To be added to the electronic distribution list for U.S. maritime alerts and advisories, email the request to MARAD security. | Email:


Congressional testimonies, news items, and speeches are available online.

Ship Disposal

MARAD's website has information on four methods for disposing of a ship: artificial reefing, domestic recycling, ship donations, and naval sink at sea live-fire training exercises (SINKEX).

Social Media

MARAD has a Facebook account.

MARAD tweets announcements and other newsworthy items on Twitter.

Video Archives

A video archives is available on MARAD's website.

Virtual Ship Tours

Virtual tours inside cargo and crew spaces and engine rooms are part of MARAD's website.

A virtual tour of the NS Savannah, the world's first nuclear-powered merchant ship, which was launched in 1959 as part of the Atoms for Peace Program, is available online.