The whole soccer team issue sidetracked me from the post that I’ve been preparing about how MARAD calculates the restoration of sea year. I’ll try to get that posted by early next week. Now that I understand the calculation, one of my criticisms of it is that it does not give an accurate snapshot of the actual mids-in-billets-on-ships picture. Then today, MARAD distributed some actual mids-in-billets-on-ships data to Capitol Hill and I’m happy to share it. And it is a positive report.
According to MARAD, as of earlier this week, of the 106 Midshipmen in the Class of 2019 B-split (who commenced their sailing period in March 2017), 74 are on commercial vessels, 20 are on Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships, three are on military vessels, one is on a training vessel, one is on a Ready Reserve Force vessel, four are in internships,and three are in transit between ships and/or internships. MARAD states that “The commercial/MSC ratio is similar to what it was before the stand down.”
That is excellent news.
Of course, the Class of 2020 B-splits are starting their sailing period this month, which will effectively double the number of billets needed and put stress on the ability to get midshipmen assigned to ships. As we reported here, at a meeting held earlier this week, the 2020 B-splits were told that 10% of them would be departing on sea year immediately after graduation. The main issue will be how quickly the remainder of the 2020 B-splits can be placed on ships and whether there will be sufficient billets available for them to get a true sea year experience. MARAD is expressing optimism that the B-splits will “get their necessary sea days.” However, it remains to be seen what the quality of those sea days will be: will they be on ROS ships, training ships, or commercial ships? It is clear that Academy Training Representatives are making a good effort to get midshipmen quality assignments; whether they have sufficient billets to work with when two classes of B-splits are at sea simultaneously is the money question.
Hopefully, MARAD will begin providing regular updates of this nature (breaking down the number of midshipmen assigned to the split, by type of vessel assignment) so that all can have ongoing confidence in the status of sea year restoration. When we see data when both classes of B-splits are at sea that is similar to what MARAD released today for the 2019 B-splits, we will know that sea year is finally back on track.
I applaud MARAD for releasing this data. Regular communication of this type of data will contribute greatly to alleviating concerns of the stakeholders regarding the restoration of sea year. It is an important bridge that MARAD needs to build to the stakeholders (and not just to Capitol Hill).
And speaking of concerns of the stakeholders, we are all still greatly concerned about reaccreditation. Regular — and meaningful — communication on that topic would be a welcome change. MARAD could begin by releasing the monitoring report that, as we reported here, it now acknowledges the public is entitled to see but is still refusing to release.