From the Background: "The U.S. Merchant Marine consists of U.S.-flag vessels and their crews of U.S. citizens or nationals, commonly called merchant mariners. While there has been congressional interest in maritime policy since the founding of the United States, legislation related to training and qualifying the maritime workforce was uncommon until the latter half of the 19th century. Economic distress in the shipping industry caused by the American Civil War prompted congressional efforts to reverse this decline, including legislation intended to increase the number and quality of merchant mariners. Two federal entities currently share responsibility for the Merchant Marine. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) manages federal shipping and ocean transportation programs. It also operates the only federal maritime academy for merchant marine officers--the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York. The U.S. Coast Guard administers commercial vessel and merchant mariner oversight programs."
CRS In Focus, IF11868
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/