The US Merchant Marine is an essential component of national defense. It augments the basic sealift capacity necessary to meet defense requirements. Experience gained during previous conflicts has emphasized the importance of Navy coordination with all segments of the maritime industry.
The Maritime Administration [MARAD] is an agency within the Department of Transportation (DOT), responsible for promoting the development of a merchant marine sufficient to meet the needs of national defense and the domestic and foreign commerce of the United States. MARAD functions include maintenance of ships in MARAD custody; administration of subsidy programs and other financial aids to shipping; maritime research and development; and training of merchant marine officers.
NS Savannah was the first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship, built in the late 1950s, funded by United States government agencies as a demonstration project for the potential usage of nuclear energy. She was in service between 1962–1972, and is one of only four nuclear-powered cargo ships ever built. the Maritime Administration envisions the ship's eventual conversion into a museum, but that no investors have yet offered to undertake the project.