US President Joe Biden has tapped a former Navy rear admiral to run the Maritime Administration.

If approved by the Senate, Ann Phillips, who currently serves as a special assistant to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on coastal protection issues, will take the vacant role of maritime administrator.

"[In her current role] she is building a collaborative, whole of government and community approach to address the impact of coastal flooding across [Virginia]," a statement from the White House read.

"In particular, she coordinates across federal, state, local and other partners to create equitable strategies to address rising waters and climate impact to federal, maritime, and other critical coastal infrastructure assets in Virginia."

Phillips would take the reins from Lucinda Lessley, who ran the administration on an acting basis since Biden took office in January.

Mark Buzby was the last permanent maritime administrator, serving under former President Donald Trump until his resignation following the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.

The Maritime Administration is tasked with promoting the US domestic shipping industry. It is part of the US Department of Transportation.

The pick differs from two popular names circulating after Biden was sworn in: former Trailer Bridge chief executive John McCown and former Maritime Administration deputy administrator Rear Admiral Mike Rodriguez.

Phillips, whose last post in the Navy saw 14 ships under her command, would take over the agency at a time when the domestic shipping industry has gotten a shot in the arm from the offshore wind push, which is expected to spur shipbuilding.

She also takes over as the US Merchant Marine Academy — for which the Maritime Administration is responsible — is mired in its second sexual assault scandal in five years involving students during their onboard training period known as Sea Year.