Philly Shipyard has been tapped to build two more merchant marine academy training vessels, bringing the total to four.

The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration said on Tuesday that it authorised construction of the two National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMVs), one for Maine Maritime Academy and the other for Texas A&M Maritime Academy.

"The NSMV is part of a strategy to bolster maritime education, revitalise US shipbuilding, and provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the US maritime industry,” said MarAd head Doug Burnett, who took over as head of the agency after former administrator Mark Buzby stepped down.

"America must be a maritime nation if it is to continue to lead the world in this century."

Philly Shipyard was largely idle for much of 2019 after finishing off two boxships for Matson — money-losing deals for the Oslo-traded company.

The Aker Capital-backed yard then pivoted to government work, securing US government contracts, and, last April, broke its newbuilding cold streak with the commission of the first NSMV for SUNY Maritime College.

A second was added for Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

The first two contracts were worth $630m. Construction is set to begin this year and conclude in 2023.

If all five NSMVs are built, the contracts will be worth a total of $1.5bn.

MarAd said the contracts will support 1,200 shipyard jobs.

The NSMVs will help train 600 cadets at a time with training and lab space.

The ships, with ro-ro and container storage capacity, will also be used in case of humanitarian need or national emergencies, accommodating up to 1,000.