There’s an old saying that figures don’t lie but liars can figure. MARAD is doing a lot of figuring when it comes to calculating the restoration of sea year following the sea year
stand down cancellation. Yesterday, Acting Maritime Administrator Szabat informed Congress that
“Collectively, the companies that have been approved, or are applying [N.B.: for approval to host USMMA midshipmen on their ships], represent 84 percent of the commercial Sea Year training provided before the suspension.”
That sounds really good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it is not remotely accurate. Notice the careful use of a ratio that has no clear definition (“percent of the commercial Sea Year training”) and no reliable means of measurement. MARAD is hiding the real data, which can be presented in real terms and is easily definable and understandable — and is readily available to MARAD.
MARAD simply releases a statistic and assumes, usually correctly, that no one is going to inquire about the manner in which the statistic was generated. (MARAD is really “good” at manipulating statistics — that is how it initially got away with reporting false information about the Academy’s SA/SH rates as compared to the other federal academies. We revealed that fraud here and related statistical manipulation here and here.)
So let’s look at the real data. The data includes large and small, domestic and international, ship operating companies which had been available to USMMA to take midshipmen for training prior to the
stand down cancellation. Vessels ranged from limited to unlimited horsepower and tonnage. NOTE: The data is now worse due to Liberty Maritime’s reported decision to suspend participation in the program. See this update.
|Comparison of companies taking USMMA midshipmen|
||68 vessel operating companies were available to take USMMA midshipmen.|
||12 vessel operating companies willing to participate — only 8 are approved and 4 more are pending.|
|Comparison of number of ships taking USMMA midshipmen|
||360 vessels available to USMMA for training (does not included 45 ROS ships welded to the dock)|
||164 vessels available to USMMA for training (clarification: this includes 22 vessels operated by the 4 companies that have not received approval) (does not included 45 ROS ships welded to the dock)|
The 12 vessel operating companies that are now willing to carry USMMA midshipmen operate 164 ships (not counting ROS ships). That is only 45% of the vessels that were available to carry USMMA midshipman before the
stand down cancellation. The 84% figure used by MARAD is bogus.
It is important to realize that just because 164 ships are “available,” that doesn’t mean that there are 328 (2 x 164) berths for USMMA midshipmen. Of those 164 ships, only 59 are subject to the law that requires them to carry USMMA midshipmen. And even of those 59 ships, not all are in service or otherwise available at a particular time. The remaining ships may be available to USMMA midshipmen; but, those ships may carry cadets from the state maritime schools instead. Or they may carry no cadets whatsoever.
The following dramatically illustrates that sea year is nowhere near restoration to what it was pre-
stand down cancellation:
|Companies presently approved to carry USMMA midshipmen:||Companies seeking approval to carry USMMA midshipmen||Partial list of the 56 companies that used to accept USMMA midshipmen for training but have not sought to participate since the
|AET (LNG tankers, Singapore flag)
Alaska Marine Highways (ferries)
Alaska Tanker Company
Polar Tankers (ConocoPhilips)
HMS Global Maritime (Chip Jaenichen’s company)
National Geographic (Linblad Expeditions)
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Ocean Shipholdings Inc
SeaRiver Maritime (ExxonMobil)
Shell Shipping (Singapore, Marshall Isl)
Staten Island Ferries
Transoceanic Cable Ships (Marshall Islands)
US Shipping Corp.
My source for this data is a very resourceful alumnus who used data from a variety of sources to compile this. This alum has provided me with accurate data in the past and I have high confidence in this data. Of course, some of the data will change with time; and, because it is compiled from a variety of sources, there may be minor errors or inconsistencies in it. I will correct it if any errors are called to my attention. Bottom line is that I am very confident that the overall picture that this data presents is far more accurate than MARAD’s data. But, I’ll invite MARAD to prove me wrong: If MARAD will provide a list of every ship presently carrying USMMA midshipman and the number of USMMA midshipman on each ship, I will gladly publish it on this blog. I can assure you that MARAD can easily put its hands on such a list.
- Added US Shipping Corp. (h/t “Defeated Parent” in the comments)
*** According to a recent survey. Survey takers were given three choices: MARAD never lies to Congress; MARAD rarely lies to Congress; or MARAD lies to Congress 84% of the time. See how easy it is to manipulate statistics?
I am sure the many maritime professionals that read this blog can send in the names of their employers that graciously hosted USMMA midshipmen before the Sea Year cancellation and are no longer doing so (and have no intention of doing so), thereby adding to the “partial list” in column 3 above.
Additionally, 10-15% of the 16% reported deficit, is non-msp related. It is reported that they have no incentive to apply, given the additional requirements. Using MARAD’s numbers, they cannot achieve 💯 %. This is a huge concern.
It is much worse than that. Starting with the fact that you cannot use the 16% (100% – 84%) as a starting point because 84% is not an accurate number as explained in the post.
I hope to dive deeper into the data in a follow up post; but, I didn’t want the data to overwhelm the main message in this post.
US Shipping also use to take KP Cadets and have chosen not to apply to do so in the future.
I don’t think they are intentionally lying. Just looking at numbers in a different way. I am also sick and tired of all of the rudeness of the alumini who are way too emotionally engaged with these issues. Those that are in charge are relying on their military background as the military was forced to deal with this during the early 1990’s when tail hook happened. If everyone would work together instead against each other much more positive results would happen. How would you think if you were accused of being dishonest and be disrespected the way the alumni has treated those in charge. They are only trying their best!!!
John Doe: If the Maritime Administration wants to show us how it is “looking at numbers in a different way” and came up with the 84%, I will be happy to post its response here. As for working together, there are many alumni who were willing to give the current superintendent the benefit of the doubt when he was selected — despite his obvious lack of critical credentials for leading USMMA. One of the first things he did was to evict the alumni from the campus. Do you think that might have poisoned the well a bit? Ever since then, he and MARAD have consistently locked the stakeholders out of the process. Every step MARAD has taken has been top-down management that excluded the stakeholders and done in a non-negotiable manner: the AAF eviction; the GMATS closure; the sea year
stand downcancellation; the response to being put on accreditation warning; etc.
With respect to the accusations of dishonesty: You need to understand that there is a difference between a false accusation and an accurate one. I famously offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who could prove that the Superintendent was telling the truth. Not a single person even tried to take that bet. Several months later, the Superintendent finally admitted to his dishonesty. But even today, the false statement continues to be repeated on the Academy website and in submissions to Congress.
Kings Pointers are trained to deliver — and they therefore expect — excellence. “I was doing the best I could” doesn’t cut it when you’ve run your ship aground. Superintendent Helis did much worse than “merely” run the Academy aground. He then tried to blame everyone else for his failures. In my opinion, that’s why he went along with the whole SA/SH-during-sea-year false narrative. And to bring this reply full circle, I will remind you that the false narrative was based upon “looking at numbers in a different way” — i.e. using inaccurate data. And rather than working together, MARAD hid the underlying numbers from us until we finally embarrassed them enough that they had to release them.
I was directly told by the previous maritime administrator that they had no intentions of closing KP. Maybe those who suffer from paranoia should go see a shrink!!
Would that be the same Maritime Administrator who told us that he had done everything possible on campus to address SA/SH when the Inspector General and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education were both saying that the Academy had failed to implement many of the Academy’s plans for addressing SA/SH?
Tell me this: If you wanted to close KP (recognizing that there is no support in Congress to do so) and you were the Maritime Administrator, what would you do differently compared to what former Maritime Administrator Jaenichen did over the last four years?
And if you wanted to keep KP open, what would you differently compared to what Jaenichen did?
I am not an alumni. I am a parent. My mid was assured a certain type of education by the academy in return for making a certain commitment. He has kept his commitment. The Academy has not kept its commitment. Parents and mids, no just the alumnmi, have every reason not to trust the current administration.
Unlike the alumni, our problem with Helis does not go back to his appointment and his actions immediately thereafter. Quite frankly l don’t know enough about what happened between the alumni and the administration to even comment on the merits one way or another. (Although, given what I have seen in the last year or so I suspect I would be sympathetic to the alumni).
For the parents, our fight goes back to last June when our mids were pulled off ships or told to go home and wait. I know I sound like a broken record (if anyone remembers what a record is), but please READ THE REPORT FROM MIDDLE STATES. It is actually a criticism of the school’s management. SASH, if anything, is only a small part of it. You seem to have fallen into the very trap that the administration wanted us all to fall into, namely that SASH is the big problem with accreditation. It’s not.
There is clearly some bad blood between Helis and the alumni but no such bad blood existed between mids, their parents and Helis (other than the typical parent/student complaints about any college) until last June when the stand down was announced. It is the current mids, not the alumni, who have suffered the most from the administration’s failure of leadership, which is really the heart and sole of the Middles States report. Through no fault of their own,our kids are not getting the education they were promised. Helis and Szbat get their titles, their paychecks and their pensions. Janechin and Rodriguez get their pensions plus great new jobs. Our kids got screwed.
Don’t think for one second that the parents would not want to be meaningfully involved in the reaccreditation process. We’ve never been asked.
Don’t think that parents don’t want to help solve any SASH problem that might exist. We haven’t been asked.
Don’t think that parents would not want to be meaningfully involved in developing safer sea year experiences for their kids. We haven’t been asked.
The reality is that MARAD and Helis have run the reaccreditation warning response process in a manner that actually reflects the very problems pointed out in the Middle States report. It has been a top down process with no stakeholder input. There’s no secret about why that is…they don’t want to admit their own mistakes and above all, they don’t want to correct them in a manner that challenges their own power. As such, SASH is their false idol that they know gets press and distracts from the real issues. I have to admit that from a public relations point of view they have succeeded brilliantly.
Alumni are alumni at every school and they always will be–they complain about stuff. It’s what they do. But they also are the backbone of hiring, networking, fund raising and recruitment. They also provide an institutional memory that administrators, who tend to come and go, do not have. Thank god we have had the alumni on our side in this dispute with Helis and the administration. Otherwise,the parents and the mids would already have been buried by the so called “experts”.
Without alumni, there would be no Kings Point Sentry.
Without alumni, there would be no formal presence in Washington D.C.
Without alumni, a lot of mids might not have gotten a chance to serve on Navy ships last year, thus obtaining some required sea days.
The list goes on from there.
If I thought the alumni were doing anything wrong, I would be the first one to criticize them. So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that that is the case.
Thanks for the enlightenment regarding MARAD. I agree that if they are trying to shut down KP this would be the blueprint. All of the KP stakeholders seem to be playing only defense. Is there an offense to be considered? Thanks to all for your good work on behalf of KP. I am great full for a successful career to the USMMAAA which is the true engine of KP. With all the political turmoil in USA (KP is only a microcosm) I am contemplating accepting a proffered Norwegian passport
You’ve nailed it…with one exception: you say:
“Don’t think for one second that the parents would not want to be meaningfully involved in the reaccreditation process. We’ve never been asked.
Don’t think that parents don’t want to help solve any SASH problem that might exist. We haven’t been asked.
Don’t think that parents would not want to be meaningfully involved in developing safer sea year experiences for their kids. We haven’t been asked.”
Actually it’s worse than that. It isn’t that the parents haven’t been asked…WE HAVE ASKED to be allowed to help… but our offer falls on deaf ears. Our input is not wanted.
The only help the administration wants is for us to follow Mr. Doe’s advice and go away (and maybe see a shrink).
As deputy maritime administrator, Mike Rodriguez adamantly defended the stand down to protect Kings Point cadets from the dangers of sailing on US flagged commercial vessels. Now, as superintendent of Texas A & M Maritime Academy his cadets are sailing on those very same ships, the ones not on the approved list. If the word “hypocrite” does not apply what word does?