Training Ship Empire State Christened in NSMV Milestone

Empire State training ship
New training ship Empire State was christened ahead of her delivery this summer (SUNY)

Published Jun 30, 2023 8:59 PM by The Maritime Executive

Construction of the first of the new class of U.S. maritime training ships marked a key milestone with the christening of the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel, the Empire State VII. It brings the first-ever purpose-built training ship a step closer to completion and delivery which is expected later this summer. The U.S. Maritime Administration has commissioned five ships for each of the state-run maritime academies.

“This new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel is a state-of-the-art training platform, providing our cadets with a world-class education,” said Chancellor John King of the State University of New York Maritime College. “After years of advocating for an updated training ship, this NSMV is outfitted with numerous training spaces, a training bridge, labs, and an auditorium. I couldn't be more thrilled for cadets after touring the Empire State VII.”



Historically, MARAD has supplied the maritime colleges with worn-out old surplus ships. SUNY for example is using a C4 breakbulk cargo ship that first went into service in 1962. Operating as the college’s current training ship, Empire State VI, has been used to educate and train the students since 1989.

The current vessel set off on her last training voyage on May 27. On board for the 75-day sea term are 442 cadets and 81 faculty, staff, and crew members. Starting this year, SUNY transitioned from two 50-day voyages to a single 75-day sea term for the cadets. The ship made a stop in Philadelphia so that the cadets could see the new state-of-the-art replacement and then they headed to Europe for the international portion of the cruise. Upon completion of its final voyage, the Empire State VI will be retired after 60 years of service.


The current Empire State setting off on her final training cruise will be retired after 60 years of service (SUNY Maritime College)


The NSMV program was authorized in 2019 with the contract for the first vessels awarded in 2020. Tote Services is acting as the project manager for MARAD and the Philly Shipyard will build the five vessels. The design provides modern training facilities and equipment for the cadets with elements such as a training bridge. They are Ro-Ros and are also able to handle containers to further enhance the training aspects for up to 600 cadets and teachers. 

The ships are also dual purpose designed to be available to provide support in times of emergency. They have a modern hospital and a helipad. MARAD reports the ships will be available for disaster relief following hurricanes or other events. The vessels will each be able to accommodate up to 1,000 people during a disaster relief mission.

MARAD announced that a 1987 graduate of SUNY Maritime College and is currently the Vice President of the Maryland Pilots Association, Captain Elizabeth Christman, would be the vessel’s sponsor. The spouse of Rear Admiral Michael Alfultis, President of SUNY Maritime College, Kimberly Alfultis served as the Honorary Matron of Honor for the Empire State. 

"Today's event is the culmination of hard work, dedication, and overcoming many challenges. As we stand here, in front of this remarkable vessel, we are thankful for the efforts of everyone involved, and can’t wait to deliver this ship to SUNY," said Steinar Nerbovik, President & CEO of Philly Shipyard.

Construction on the second vessel of the class is well underway with the vessel which will be named Patriot State due for delivery in 2024. May 1, the first large block for the third vessel, the State of Maine, was lowered into the dry dock for a ceremonial keel laying. The third NSMV is also scheduled to be delivered to Maine Maritime Academy in 2024. Steel cutting for the fourth vessel, to be named Lone Star State, and scheduled to be delivered to Texas A&M Maritime Academy in 2025 started in January 2023. The last vessel of the class will go to California.