The US Maritime Administration (MarAd) finally has a new leader.

Rear Admiral Ann Phillips — nominated by President Joe Biden in October 2021 to fill the position vacated by Mark Buzby that January — was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday in a roll call vote.

MarAd is part of the US Department of Transportation and is tasked with promoting the domestic shipping industry.

Phillips had previously served as a special assistant to Virginian governor Ralph Northam on coastal protection issues following a career in the Navy that culminated with 14 ships under her command.

In her role in Virginia, the White House said Phillips had worked on flooding and climate issues.

She takes over for acting maritime administrator Lucinda Lessley.

Lessley had been at the helm of the agency through much of a sexual assault scandal brought to the fore last autumn, when an anonymous US Merchant Marine Academy student known popularly as Midshipman X detailed her rape at sea in an essay.

The student, then 19, was working aboard a Maersk Line Ltd ship during Sea Year, a programme in which academy students train onboard US-flag vessels to get on-the-job experience.

The furore around the essay prompted MarAd to temporarily shut down Sea Year for the second time in a decade over sexual assault issues.

The programme was restarted in December following a set of standards known as Every Mariner Builds a Respectful Culture which sets out standards for ship operators if they want to take academy students on their ships.

Lessley said at the Connecticut Maritime Association conference in March that five operators had signed on to the standards, which require things like master keys be accounted for and crew members be prevented from entering academy student rooms and vice versa.

Phillips will also take over as US shipping is expected to see an upturn due to a growing US offshore wind industry.

That industry will need US-built, -owned and -crewed ships to meet Biden's goal of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.