The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is part of DOT efforts to ensure that the Nation’s transportation network is able to quickly recovery after natural disasters or other incidents. MARAD assists in defining what resources are needed to support critical emergency operations, commercial services to rapidly reopen marine transportation systems, and transport options or commodities and passengers through vessel services to support  emergencies commercial freight movement. MARAD also supports the DOT / ESF-1 mission as defined in the National Response Framework (NRF).

Both MARAD and the private sector maritime industry are uniquely poised, equipped and qualified to render assistance to
our nation’s citizens in their time of need. A few, maritime-related capability examples:

MARAD is capable of providing the following:

  • Make available senior agency personnel to the ESF-1 Regional Emergency Response Teams (RERT) so as to support emergency activations.
  • Provide agency representation at the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) and/or Joint Field Office (JFO) to assist with managing the ESF-1 functions at the center and to enable requestors for federal assistance to be expertly informed on what MARAD and maritime industry resources and capabilities may be appropriate to resolve specific challenges. 
  • With DOD approval, make available the government-owned vessels, equipment, personnel and expertise of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF)
  • MARAD Gateway offices will reach out to the ports to assess the event’s impact to their operations and infrastructure (damage assessments), anticipated restoration schedule, and available assets / capabilities (if any) that may be applied to the response efforts.
  • MARAD Gateway offices will participate in USCG’s Marine Transportation Recovery Units (MTSRU), which is a group of experts in maritime mobility, incident response and port operations who work with stakeholders to restore the commercial capacity of a waterway following a natural or manmade disruption.
  • Assist with the assessment of the availability and capabilities of vessels and maritime industry assets for response/recovery missions.
  • Assess economic impact of maritime port / waterway / facility closures.
  • Provide MarView portal to assist emergency planners/responders (see below for details).
  • Track and report on the status of the Marine Transportation System (MTS).
  • Compile and provide information associated with the economic importance of the affected waterways and ports.
  • Provide any known, applicable MTS constraints from MARAD’s unique, industry advocacy perspective (Jones Act, seasonal cargo importance, etc…).
    • Identify critical cargo movements from DOD, USAID, and other government-impelled cargos.
    • Assist with prioritization of vessel movements for resumption of commerce.
    • Recommend actions to the Capitan of the Port / Incident Command Post.
    • Provide the Unified Command (UC) with recommended priorities for MTS recovery.
    • Endeavor to assist the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Coast Guard and Unified Incident Command in terms of defining what maritime resources are needed / available to support critical response operations as well as commercial services to rapidly reopen the Marine Transportation System. 

A great example of what the Maritime Administration can provide during an emergency can be seen in the MARAD video, Danger and Opportunity: Hurricane Recovery Support:

General Emergency Response / Recovery Capabilities of Maritime Resources (ships, barges, tows, water-side infrastructure, etc…)

  • Command and Control Platforms: When local infrastructure is compromised by an emergency event, selfsustaining (power, water, etc…) maritime vessels can function as command and control platforms providing communications, medical support, berthing, accommodations, patrol boat / helicopter platforms, etc…
  • Emergency Safe-Store (SafeStor): ‘Roll-on Roll-off’ ships (vehicle carriers) located in port facilities that remain at their locations in a reduced operating status for long periods can load vehicles and trailers into the cargo spaces with very little advanced notice. Typically, this capability is used prior to the onset of a storm by local government emergency management organizations to ensure their vehicles, boats, and skid mounted helicopters can ride out a storm and will be available immediately after the storm passes.
  • Emergency Messing and Berthing: Limited by the supply of food on board, ships can provide bunks and provisions for emergency responders and refugees. If necessary, berthing can be increased with the use of cots and mobile trailer homes, and additional provisions and water can be brought on the vessel to support larger numbers of people.
  • Follow-on Messing and Berthing: Once requested, ships can generally transit to the affected areas within 5-10 days. Because of their design, Maritime school training ships are especially suited for this mission of providing meals and temporary berthing. For example, the EMPIRE STATE, from the State University of New York Maritime College could provide 625 berthing spaces.
  • Follow-on Cargo Deliveries: Ships can be used to provide food, water and relief supplies to an affected area. These vessels can carry vehicles that can be loaded with supplies and then delivered to remote areas. They can also carry heavy equipment that can be used to clear debris and restore damaged infrastructure as well as delivering emergency service vehicles and generators to be used for firefighting and emergency medical assistance.
  • Follow-on Port Restoration: Some ships have the ability to act as cargo transfer platforms to restore a port’s cargo handling equipment if it is inoperable. These “Crane Ships” go along side a terminal and cargo ships are secured outboard. The cranes reach over the cargo ship to deliver the cargo to the pier.
  • Other Maritime-Related Emergency Capabilities
    • Provide evacuation services for citizens located in impacted areas
    • Commercial barges and vessels can store and transport vehicles, bulk relief supplies, fuel, water, etc…and provide water-side power generation
    • Medium and small sized passenger vessels can be used for a wide variety of purposes (ad hoc prison facility, emergency and recovery worker housing, housing for critical maritime workers (stevedores, oil spill cleanup, etc.), temporary victim housing, evacuation services, etc…)
    • Provide waterside staging areas for response / recovery operations
    • Provide platforms for fire, law enforcement, public works / engineering, and medical personnel
    • Provide waterway crossing transits (or barge bridges) for response and recovery personnel, equipment and supplies where bridges may have been destroyed or otherwise rendered unusable

How Marine View Can Help Emergency Response Efforts?

MarView ( is an integrated data driven environment providing essential information to support the strategic requirements of the U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS) and its contribution to the economic viability of the Nation.

  • MarView can provide maps/details/data on vessels, waterways, ports, locks, dams, bridges, railroads.
  • MarView can provide current location of vessels in each port, waterway (based on last reported position).
  • MarView can provide the ability to fuse data together to create models and simulations for scenario planning in the event of a crisis. The ability to run economic impact scenarios, demand forecasting, capacity planning and plans.