In 2016, the leadership at the Department of Transportation and MARAD, in concert with the leadership at the United States Merchant Marine Academy cancelled, without any notice, the Academy’s mission-critical Sea Year aboard military-capable commercial ships based upon anecdotal claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment (“SASH”) at sea. As we came to learn, this was actually a diversion: The Academy leadership was coming under fire by the organization that accredits it as well as the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General for its woeful failure to implement programs designed to address SASH on campus.
As people questioned the purely anecdotal (and undocumented) “data” that the Department of Transportation and MARAD relied upon to justify the cancellation, the government developed a “we-know-better-than-you attitude and circled the wagons. On the infrequent occasions when MARAD or the Academy deigned to communicate with key stakeholders such as the midshipmen, their parents, alumni, and the industry, they made false statements thinking that they could get away with them.
With the government clamming up, Kings Point Sentry was created in July 2016 to provide a reliable source of information about what was happening with Sea Year. For the next two years, we ferreted out information, documented it, and publicized it. Eventually, we became the “go to” source for all things Sea Year because we were scrupulous in our reporting and put the supporting documentation on the website as well. This blog was regularly read at MARAD, DOT, the Academy and in the halls of Congress.
It’s now 2022 and Sea Year is cancelled again. This time it is due to a horrific sexual assault on a female midshipman. Once again, DOT and MARAD have circled the wagons and are making false statements about Sea Year to Congress, midshipmen, parents, alumni, and the industry. But the solution to SASH in any industry is not to ban, temporarily or otherwise, the victims and potential victims from the industry. Once again, Kings Point Sentry will fill the void, hold DOT and MARAD to the truth, and provide a voice for the Academy’s midshipmen.