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The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced that nine ships have been enrolled in the Tanker Security Program (TSP).

The TSP will assist commercial product tankers that are American-owned, American-flagged and American-crewed and that engage in international commercial transportation.

The programme ensures the Department of Defense has access to critical product tankers capable of loading, transporting and storing products to support national security.

The vessels will be used in US international trade and will be on call for the nation to utilise in case of war or national emergency.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said: “Today we are announcing the first ships to join the TSP, which will help strengthen both our supply chains and our national security by delivering fuel to our armed forces around the world while creating hundreds of good jobs for American mariners.”

Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips emphasised that the project marks a critical turning point for MARAD and the American marine sector: “The TSP accomplishes two key maritime sealift objectives: it grows our US-flagged fleet and it significantly expands our ability to deliver vital fuel supplies to support military missions across the globe.”

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The companies selected for admission, providing three tank vessels each, are Overseas Shipholding Group, Crowley-Stena Marine Solutions and Seabulk Tankers.

The US Department of Transportation stated that each tank vessel enrolled will receive a maximum $6m annual payment.

This will be prorated on a monthly basis for qualified service participants in the program.