A timely article in Forbes offers a good sea year template for the new administration

Captain R.J. Klein, the Immediate Past President of the Council of American Master Mariners, has an article in Forbes that offers a concise analysis of the issues and solutions regarding sea year at the Academy. The new administration could start  with this analysis and be well on the way to resolving the sea year controversy without sacrificing anyone’s concerns about SA/SH.

As Captain Klein observes,

“The reality is, instances of misconduct are very isolated on the commercial fleet and there is absolutely no indication of an existing or developing trend toward improper behavior on U.S.-flagged vessels. Our unions have tracked only a handful of cases of sexual harassment, most of which occurred more than a generation ago. Each time, the perpetrator was expelled from our ranks or disciplined severely.”

And he contrasts the low risks of SA/SH with the often-overlooked risks of the stand down cancellation:

  • “By letting the Sea Year suspension stand, we let an unsubstantiated charge against U.S. mariners linger unresolved;
  • We delay midshipmen’s professional development, graduations and required exams;
  • We put in danger jobs on U.S.-flagged ships and jeopardize the careers of existing American seafarers;
  • We may inadvertently create a barrier for women—already underrepresented—to enter the industry;
  • Our military will have greater difficultly properly managing our fleet in times of war.”

And then he offers a realistic “way forward” that includes the restoration of sea year on commercial ships within 30 days. Read the whole thing:

An Urgent Call To Let ‘Sea Year’ Help Maritime Security And American Labor

Note that Captain Klein’s concern about how the USMMA sea year stand down cancellation affects maritime security is concerning to other leaders in the maritime industry as well, as noted in this interview with Clay Maitland by Maritime TV.




  1. An open letter to RADM Helis.

    RADM Helis,

    Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 31st 2017 begins a new chapter in your career at the United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point). Upon the confirmation and swearing-in of the Honorable Elaine Chao, you will be under new leadership and accountability.

    With a commitment to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Secretary Chao will make Kings Point her first priority of all the issues facing MARAD. She is familiar with Kings Point, having spent time working with the Kings Point Leadership while Assistant MARAD back in the early 1990’s.

    There are three critical issues that need attention at Kings Point:
    1. Middle States Accreditation.
    2. Full Restoration of Sea Year and appropriate SA/SH Measures.
    3. Addressing Leadership Trust Issues with Staff and Midshipmen as described by the LMI Report.

    We are all familiar with your positions on the first two, and all three have been addressed in public forums, Congressional Offices, and other meetings beyond your control. There is no need to rehash them in this letter.

    The intent of this letter is to ask you to resign with dignity on February 1st, 2017 and let the Academy begin moving forward to come off Probation with Middle States; to fully Restore Sea Year with Commercial Ships in a defined timeframe, with no taint of personal bias from the former administration; and to fully implement SA/SH Prevention Measures to protect the Midshipmen, to include removing from campus your Staff Members with SA/SH Complaints whom you have allowed to stay on duty.

    Only with your resignation (or termination) will the third point be fully addressed. You have lost the trust and respect of those you command. That is a serious offense, one from which you cannot recover.

    I implore you to resign and leave the Academy with dignity. If not, we will continue to pursue your termination with renewed vigor.


    A Concerned Parent

    • No respect for someone who would write this without signing their “John Hancock.” Show some courage.

      A 2018 Parent.

      • Under normal circumstances I would agree with Mr. Mason. If you are going to call for someone to resign, be brave enough to do it publicly and sign your name. This, however, is not a normal situation because I presume the parent in question is not worried about the ramifications of his or her statement on themselves but are instead concerned about the academic repercussions that those statements may have for their mids at the academy. It’s not a matter of protecting themselves, but of protecting their children from suddenly finding themselves at the back of the line when it comes to getting their sea days in because the administration doesn’t like what a parent said.
        To be fair, I have yet to see anybody or have even heard of anybody in the administration or at MARAD actually doing something so despicable. MY strong disagreements with them aside, I have to thank them for not having sunk to that level. I have never been one of those who buy into the idea that they actually want to destroy the academy.

        That said, there is a very real fear among the mids themselves, warranted r not, that the words of their parents can get them jammed up–and that is the real problem for the leadership. Justified or not, the regiment has lost faith in the administration. They simply do not believe or trust anything that comes out of Wiley Hall. For the last 7 months they have been repeatedly told that they themselves are the problem. Their education has been short circuited and the promises made (the world is your campus) have not been kept. Under those circumstances, it is only natural for them to not have any faith or confidence in Helis.

        I’ve said this before. I really don’t think the stand down was Helis’ idea. Unfortunately, with the departure of FOX, Janechin and Rodriquez, it is now his responsibility and his problem. They left him holding the bag. For want of a better analogy, he’s the loser in a game of musical chairs.

        Again, on a personal level I have found him to be pleasant enough. I don’t care if he stays or if he goes, so long as sea year and accreditation get figured out. But if he stays he has a lot of work to do before the kids will ever trust him again. I’m not even sure if it can be done at all with the current student body. It may take several years of graduations and a totally new generation of students for it to happen.

        Whatever happens, I wish him well.

  2. As a parent of a midshipmen, I can fully understand why they would not identify themself. The history of poor leadership can lead to retaliation against the middie. I will copy and post this with my name supporting the position of the writer.

    Aloha, Gordon Inouye ’65

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