Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement

The voluntary intermodal sealift agreement (VISA) is a cooperative effort between the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States maritime industry to ensure the availability of commercial sealift and intermodal shipping services in times of national emergency. This agreement establishes procedures for the rapid activation of private sector shipping capacity to support military operations, including the transportation of personnel, equipment, and supplies.

The VISA program was created in the 1990s as a response to the Gulf War, which revealed the need for a more efficient and reliable way to transport military cargo. The program encourages private sector companies to participate by offering financial incentives and priority consideration for future government business.

Under the VISA program, participating companies agree to make their ships and other transportation assets available for use by the DOD in the event of a national emergency. The program also includes provisions for training and exercising to ensure that the private sector can quickly and effectively respond to a national emergency.

One of the key benefits of the VISA program is that it allows the DOD to quickly and efficiently mobilize commercial surge sealift capacity to support military operations. In addition, the program provides the DOD with access to a diverse range of transportation assets, including container ships, roll-on-roll-off vessels, and barges. This diversity of assets ensures that the DOD can transport cargo in a variety of situations, including in areas with limited port infrastructure.

The VISA program has been used several times in recent years, including during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In these operations, the program helped support the transportation of military equipment and supplies to the combat zones.

In conclusion, the voluntary intermodal sealift agreement is a critical component of the United States` national security infrastructure. By partnering with the private sector, the DOD has access to a reliable and diverse range of transportation assets that can be quickly mobilized to support military operations. The VISA program has proven its worth in the past, and it is likely to continue to play a vital role in the future.