Making sure the US marine transportation system is shipshape is job No. 1 for the Maritime Administration (MARAD). MARAD programs help develop and maintain the country's merchant marines and also oversee shipbuilding and repair services, ports, intermodal water and land transportation systems, and reserve shipping capacity in time of war or national emergency. A division of the Department of Transportation, MARAD additionally monitors compliance with cargo preference laws and works on bilateral maritime transport agreements with foreign nations. The agency was established in 1950.
The company owns and maintains a fleet of cargo ships -- the Ready Reserve Force -- which stand ready to provide surge sealift to the Department of Defense. MARAD also provides critical marine transportation activities at major US gateway ports throughout the West, East, and Gulf Coasts, the Great Lakes, and the inland river system.
For fiscal year 2015, MARAD had a budget of around $632 million.