NMP  was established on May 1, 1978 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1369 to meet the need for a maritime training center in the country. Initial operations were handled by employees from the National Seamen Board. The course offerings consisted of Basic Mess-man Course as well as the supervision of radar-related courses in Manila-based maritime schools.

Expanded operations of the Polytechnic became possible with the acquisition in 1980 of a 17-hectare lot in Cabalawan, Tacloban City.

The increasing demands for bigger and more modern structures, improved accommodations and enhanced services, the Philippines commitment and Japan's generous assistance resulted in the construction of up-to-date training, support and administrative service facilities.

The signing of the Technical Cooperation Program between the Governments of the Philippines and Japan, the latter represented by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1985 resulted in a two-phased modernization and expansion program.

Phase One consisted of the construction of the Administration, Training and Generator buildings and the donation of simulator equipment, spare-parts, technical books and references. This became the basis of the dispatch of expats to the NMP for technology transfer and for the technical training of their Filipino counterparts in Japan.

Executive Order No. 126 signed in 1987 attached NMP to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) converting NMP from state college to a DOLE agency. Governed by a Board of Trustees, chaired by the Secretary of the DOLE, the NMP then took off producing more and more highly competitive seafarers.

With the structures and equipment in place, NMP has since 1986, offered various upgrading and specialized courses for deck and engine officers and the basic safety courses for both officers and ratings. In the ensuing years, the implementation of the Faculty Development Program (Cross-Training, Shipboard Rotation, Foreign and Local Scholarship and Training Grants) and Staff Development Programs were strengthened to boost the competence of the agency's manpower resources.

In adherence to STCW '95 standards and requirements, new courses were included in recent years such as PSCRB (Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat other than Fast Rescue Boat), MARPOL Annex 1 and 2, PADAMS (Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Abuse in the Maritime Sector), PSSR (Personal Safety and Social Responsibility), and SHAPIMS (STD,/HIV/AIDS Prevention in the Maritime Sector) which the NMP pioneered just like the PADAMS. The Computer Course for Seafarers was also offered to fill the IT needs of seafarers in today's computer-dependent work environment. Existing course plans are being revised and re titled to conform to the new standards and circulars issued by the Maritime Training Council of the Philippines.

Addressing as well the technical needs of the faculty and trainers of training centers and maritime schools, the Training Course for Instructors, based on IMO model course 6.09, was offered as part of the agency's extension programs. The NMP also developed and implemented training programs for maritime cadets, like the Simulator Course for Senior Cadets, and the PAMI Familiarization course in 1995-1998. Small-scale motorboat operators, handlers and fishermen were also given attention with the offering of the Safety at Sea Course for Fishermen, Motorboat Operators and Handlers in 1994-1996.

On April 25, 2000, the NMP Quality Management System (QMS) was certified compliant to the ISO 9000:1994 Standards by the Anglo Japanese American (AJA) Registrars Inc., a London-based certifying body. Since then, the NMP has continuously worked on obtaining ISO certification in accordance with the latest standards, thus, ensuring its clients and stockholders the delivery of quality, efficient and effective maritime training, assessment and research services.

Entering into the new millenium, the NMP has posted modest but growing list of accomplishments. Guided by its mission and taking into account the continuous developments in the field,the NMP has been at the forefront of government efforts to upgrade the seafaring expertise of Filipino merchant marine officers and ratings.