The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) has announced plans to provide $19.6m in federal funding for small US shipyards.

The funding will be used to support capital improvement and employee training. The Small Shipyard Grant Program will help the shipyards to increase efficiency and develop quality ship construction, repair and reconfiguration.

US Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao said: “The Department of Transportation will be investing $19.6m to help shipyards across the country improve their facilities and maintain their efficiency.”

The programme is available to shipyards in the US that have fewer than 1,200 production employees. Established in 2008, the programme has provided approximately $223m in funding to US shipyards via 244 grants.

The private US shipyards committed to building and repairing the country’s military and commercial fleets are said to add ‘billions of dollars’ to the country’s economic growth.

In 2013, 400,000 direct and indirect jobs across the nation were supported by the private shipbuilding and repair industry along with $37.3bn in the gross domestic product (GDP) and $25.1bn in labour income.

Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby added: “US small shipyards are the economic backbone for communities throughout the country.

“They are a proven, wise investment, leveraging the skills and expertise of our shipyard community, which, in turn, empowers our entire maritime industry.”

The grant applications should be submitted by 5pm EST on 18 February 2020.

In 2018, the US DOT awarded a $229.23m grant to 14 port-related projects. The grant was part of US DOT’s $1.5bn discretionary funding programme for 91 projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

The US DOT also awarded a $6.6m grant to support the berth deepening project at the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.