This was submitted as a comment to the Open Letter from a Midshipman. I think it is important enough that it merits being given its own post. I edited it to add paragraph structure, correct a few typos, and to hide some personal identifying information (shown in brackets).
I sailed as a cadet on 6 vessels for [three different companies]. I sailed on tankers for about 10 years after graduating. Since leaving sea I have spent 14 years working for three oil companies and a government agency. My point is, I can speak from experience about SASH both at sea (cadet & licensed) and onshore.
I experienced SH offshore once as a cadet and once as a seasoned [licensed officer]. In both instances the situation was dealt with swiftly and sternly. The other 99.9% of my sailing experiences are great memories. I was always treated well by my shipmates and always felt protected by them in places like Columbia and Chile as well as the coal docks of Baltimore.
Then I went into the corporate world. Years of SH turned into stalking. I had to park in different places, vary the hours I arrived and left, I ate lunch at my desk. After 2 years of stalking I quit. At my exit interview HR advised me to move as they couldn’t do anything about what happened outside of work since I no longer worked there. I did move.
The point of this is to show that I can speak about SASH from experience, both as a Midshipman and corporate veteran. There is so much more SH “in the real world” than on ships. The handling of such incidents are also much less tolerated onboard then shoreside.
What should be done is to teach Midshipman (male and female) how to respond and handle SASH situations before and after they happen. Sea year has always been a time when Midshipman are given great responsibility and gain tremendous self-confidence that will benefit them the rest of their lives. By sheltering them at the Academy the message becomes one of hide and avoid rather than face and tackle. It also doesn’t address the SASH that takes place at the Academy (as well as the other academies and most US universities). By not also stopping commercial cadet training at state academies it shows that it is yet another attempt to discredit and choke the Academy to a slow death. Reinstate commercial cadet training and give people the tools to overcome challenges, don’t teach them to run away and hide.