Acting US maritime administrator Lucinda Lessley says rooting out sexual misconduct in the country's merchant marine is "our watch".

Speaking at Philly Shipyard during the keel-laying ceremony for the first National Security Multi-Mission Vessel on Friday, Lessley said the US Maritime Administration (MarAd) is working with stakeholders across the industry to relaunch the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA)'s Sea Year.

The programme, which puts students at the university on merchant ships for training purposes, was paused in November following rape allegations made by an anonymous student.