New Designs Released for Shipping Vessels Engineered for Marine Highways
The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration released Nov. 30 a report detailing new designs for shipping vessels specifically engineered for the America’s Marine Highway program. This program is intended to expand domestic water transportation services as an alternative means of moving containerized and wheeled freight cargoes; mitigate the economic, environmental and energy costs of landside congestion; integrate the marine highway into the transportation planning process; and research improvements in efficiencies and environmental sustainability.
According to a MARAD press release, 11 designs have been created for new shipping vessels that can transport cargoes that would otherwise be trucked over congested roadways. These include six roll-on roll-off vessels, three combination RO/RO-container carriers, a feeder container ship and a RO/RO-passenger ferry. The RO/RO and RO/RO-container vessels carry various types of vehicles but are primarily intended for tractor-trailers and stackable cargo containers. The feeder container ship can support standard-sized containers stacked both below and above deck, and the RO/RO-passenger ferry can transport tractor trailers along with their drivers.
MARAD has also signed a memorandum of agreement with the U.S. Navy under which they could provide up to $800,000 to advance two or three of these new concept designs to the next stage of design development, with the ultimate goal of constructing multiple vessels in U.S. shipyards.
The America’s Marine Highway program was formally launched in 2010 and since that time MARAD has designated 18 marine highway corridors and provided $215 million in funding for marine highway and port projects. MARAD submitted to Congress in April 2011 a report identifying the benefits and challenges of this program.