Breaking: He’s (finally) out of here.

MARAD has announced that Superintendent Helis has accepted a position at MARAD HQ  as “special assistant to the administrator.” Unfortunately, he will remain in place until a replacement is found; but it looks like MARAD is going to expedite that process, as a Change of Command ceremony is planned “for later this summer.”

Helis’s reaction here.

The Regiment’s reaction, here.

Here’s the text of the announcement, which went out by email (updated at 1352 to add link to announcement):

“The Maritime Administration today announced that RADM James Helis has accepted a position at MARAD headquarters in Washington DC where he will serve as a Special Assistant to the Administrator. During his six year assignment as Superintendent, Helis led the response to many complex issues including, financial and management issues which had threatened USMMA’s accreditation. Under his leadership, the Academy launched several major construction projects as part of its Capital Improvement Plan. Today, the Academy remains fully accredited and the student body’s educational experience has been enhanced by much needed improvements to the facilities where Midshipmen learn, live, eat, and study.

During this transition period, it is our priority to find an exceptional person to lead the Academy into the future, while still maintaining a strong and effective organization. Accordingly, Admiral Helis will continue leading the USMMA while we conduct an extensive search for a new Superintendent. We thank Admiral Helis for his service, and for his willingness to serve through the transition. A Change of Command ceremony is planned for later this summer.”





  1. They must have had to hire the most expensive PR firm in NYC to write even a slightly positive paragraph about He-Lies.

    Don’t go away mad, just go the fuck away!

  2. Though I understand the enthusiasm for this change and have appreciated your previous posts as being on target I find this post to be childish and beneath the dignity of what you should be representing especially in light of the current situation at USMMA. Helis is gone and there is no replacement. When a replacement is found a transition period will take place and though there is light at the end of the tunnel there is no telling how long it is to get to the light. The energies of this sight rather than being directed towards cuteness should be towards the continued betterment of the school through a more positive (less childish emotional response) conversation about the future otherwise you damage your broader credibility.

    • Thanks for your concern, but I’m satisfied that a brief celebration after working to bring about the removal of Helis since this blog’s first post back almost two years ago will not cause lasting damage. If KP can survive Helis (and I now believe it will), the blog can afford a little loss of dignity. And since the midshipmen were expressly warned prior to Noon mess today that they could not applaud the announcement when it was made at lunch, I think they needed an alternative place to applaud.

      FYI, based upon the MARAD announcement, I do not believe that Helis is gone. I understand from that announcement that he will remain in a position where he can continue to damage the Academy and undermine the SARP program until his replacement is found.

      • Mr. Simpson: I have to agree with “Paul” on this. I have consistently complimented the work of KPS, namely your work, as to its unassailable accuracy and professionalism. Particularly given today’s announcement, I want to reiterate that I believe KPS provided a forum that was necessary and credible and that along with the parents, the alumni and the mids, played a key role in getting sea year up and running and replacing Helis.
        Given that history, I have to say that I found the animated portions of your post today to be in poor taste. Nobody is happier than I am that Helis is gone, but I’ve never felt the need to kick somebody when their down. It’s a shame that I feel compelled to say this today, because it’s the only example I can think of over the last two years where I thought it was necessary, but those cartoons set a bad example for the mids.
        Let’s be classy with our victory lap and start the hard work of repairing the damage that was done. I am assuming today’s post was an aberration brought about by an exhausting hard fought battle, but I would hope that KPS will once again take the lead in its usual informative, accurate manner and that it continues to do so with class.
        Again, thank you for all the work you have done. It is truly appreciated by the mids and their parents.

      • I too suffered a momentary loss of dignity when I heard the news and used some rather unladylike language to express my sheer joy! I also seriously considered cracking open a bottle of champagne at 10 a.m. and drinking all of by myself. Then I freaked myself out by thinking of all the ways this could still go very wrong with him still at MARAD. That made me consider even more seriously drinking at 10 a.m, on a workday. I have waited and waited for this, but what if even this is not the answer to save KP? Fortunately, my fellow parents and some alumni convinced me to put down the tin foil wrapped sombrero for a day and simply relish the news! It speaks volumes that the regiment had to be threatened not to explode into applause!

    • On FaceBook, someone suggested ” Rudy Lupton, KP 83, USN Ret. would be a perfect replacement.” Not an endorsement of either, as I don’t know them. Justin Harts ’98, who just made (early) Captain in the USN is another name that has been floated. During the sea year stand down cancellation, he stood up and helped numerous mids get quality time on the Navy vessel he was commanding.

  3. Word from KP is that the M/N are doing internal back flips!!! Get the Helis out! Finally! Roger, over and out!

    • The mids are so thrilled that there actually was word passed down through the regiment urging the mids not to publicly react to the official announcement, as it would be unseemly to celebrate someone’s removal/resignation.

  4. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic process that resulted in Worley and Helis being selected remains in place. What is needed is a firm list of qualifications and a selection criteria.
    Let us hope there will not be a repeat of past mistakes.

    • Don: The list of qualifications is now codified into law; Helis would not qualify, but he was grandfathered in. Neither would Lupton or McDermott for that matter, nor does anyone who is military but not of Flag Rank without a waiver from the DOT.

      Andy: FWIW I too think you should have been allowed that momentary lapse of decorum to celebrate. Also, the folks making those comments clearly do not understand the sense of humor we fellow members of the USMMA Class of ’82 generally share with you, especially if the regiment was told they could not applaud the announcement. Perhaps it’s time for a positive use of the traditional graduation flyover banner – like a variant that reads “Save KP – Hire xxxx Now!”

    • That is what worries me. The Civil Service regulations are an impediment for the next hiring. Unlike the other academies where there is a centralized personnel system that ensures the right person is assigned; USMMA relies on open hiring actions.

    • I totally agree with Don Yearwood’s statement. There should be minimum qualifications and they should be set in stone. IMO if a candidate comes from one of the uniformed services with no commercial background, they shouldn’t be considered unless they also possessed sufficient qualifications to ALSO be in the running as superintendent of their OWN service academy. We’re a federal academy and we shouldn’t take anyone else’s castoffs. Neither do I personally think we need an academic who attempts to mold the place to be ‘on a par with the great universities’ or other such rubbish. What sets KP apart and has contributed to its success (again IMO) is the ‘hands on’ practical component of the training, an experience woefully missing among most college grads these days. We need someone who understands that. I also think a terminal unlimited license (Master or Chief Engineer) with sea time in that capacity should be a requirement, relaxed ONLY if the candidate has flag rank in a uniformed service AND commercial marine experience (i.e. Adm. Buzby and any number of other KP grads). I’m not sure if it would be possible to restrict the list to KP grads, but I’m pretty sure the other federal academies wouldn’t even consider a candidate who wasn’t ‘one of their own,’ so I don’t see why not. At a minimum, I think the candidates should be a maritime academy graduate of some description.

      Obviously all just my opinion, but any ‘process’ which brought us Helis is quite obviously irredeemably flawed.

  5. This day couldn’t come soon enough… His administration was a total disaster from the first day he started working there. Hopefully the Allumni foundation can come back to the school once the dust settles.

  6. As a “special assistant to” I presume Helis will now be working under the direct supervision of the Administrator which I also presume is designed to prevent further mischief. What’s that old adage of friends close and enemies closer?

    I do believe that SES rules allow for their transfer either voluntarily or not (see Phil Greene). I’m sure there is an alumni SES who could be transferred in to the superintendent position just as easily as one can obviously be transferred out.

  7. Like many others, this couldn’t happen soon enough. It has been too long. I certainly hope he’s replaced with a Kings Pointer with Industry experience that can lead Kings Point into the future Thank you Andy for all your work and support for this effort.

  8. Is this another surface opportunity to celebrate or is it meaningful change? Why has this taken so long? The current marad administrator was lauded for having to parachute into KP to solve a simple furniture upgrade, when the correct response is to fire whoever made this a requirement. Marad and/or DOT has proven to be a haven and a convenient temporary cold storage unit or conduit to stage left when no one is looking for non-performers who somehow can’t make the grade at KP but cannot be fired.

    How does this make marad a shining star? How does this compare to any private sector activity or measure against the performance pressures that lower level civilian government employees are subjected to on a daily basis?

    Helis and something else was seriously wrong at KP and at marad. I hope this change is what is needed, but is it enough?

  9. The sad thing about the good news today is that Helies and his insiders like Valerie barry are spinning this as he and they are the heroes that saved the Academy. NY Post has him advancing to a high ranking position at MARAD.

    He was a player that was attempting to destroy the academy and the mids who attend the academy. Those are our family members and he and his buddies from the previous administration never were held accountable.

    He Dunlap Barry all game players and they all need to go. Flush this swamp of self serving individuals who didn’t do the right thing but did things that have had negative lasting impacts.

    There should be celebrations good prevailed over evil today. A bad leader was finally removed from his current role leading young people but still has a hand in MARAD. If it’s running phone messages around DOT or gathering Intel for when the next admin gets into office and he can suck up and try and get back into a place to finish the mission he and Rodrigues and the other guy Jerkican started.

    Not Rodrigues is in Texas and still hurting KP by putting cadets on the very ships he said kpers couldn’t go on because of sash
    He is going after a ship of his own and then will have a ship for his new school and commercial billets and hurting KP from a different angle

    Point being the evil hand has moved but hasn’t been destroyed so we celebrate and we keep a carful eye on these clowns for the circus hasn’t been closed it just moved to a new city

    Dunlap barry and demers all have to be terminated for they will continue the games.

    The remaining question is who is protecting helies? He destroyed a federal service academy with lies and then credits himself with saving it and has a protector somewhere in government.

    Well we will salute when the moving van rolls off campus but wish good luck to his new boss who will have him outside his office running errand for nonone should trust him for he lies

    • I agree with everything you wrote Concerned Parent. Is it possible that He-Lies is himself under Investigation right now? This move to “Special Assistant” in MARAD could be a preliminary step in his firing. There are others as you say just as dirty. Drain the USMMA Swamp!

  10. My mid will b out soon, so this is just an objective opinion.
    The supe should be trained as a commercial mariner, preferably a KP grad. Military experience would be a great bonus. The commandant should be military and be responsible for that portion of the training.
    Or, Visa versa . They should never, however, have the same background.

    Just a thought.

Comments are closed.