Breaking: Liberty Maritime has reportedly suspended participation in sea year

Two days ago, we revealed the true statistics about the restoration of sea year. They were bleak — and not nearly as rosy as the fudged data that MARAD presented to Congress this past Tuesday.  Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours or so, the picture has become worse. Two independent sources have confirmed to me that Liberty Maritime, which was one of the 8 shipping companies approved to accept USMMA midshipmen for sea year, has suspended its participation in the program. We are down to 7 approved companies with 4 more pending. More importantly, there are presently only 136 vessels approved and willing to take midshipmen on sea year with another 22 vessels that are operated by the 4 companies awaiting approval by MARAD.

Here’s how the data looks now (strike through indicates where the data was two days ago, highlight indicates current data)

Comparison of companies taking USMMA midshipmen
Pre-stand down cancellation: 68 vessel operating companies were available to take USMMA midshipmen.
Post-stand down cancellation: 12 11 vessel operating companies willing to participate — only 8 7 are approved and 4 more are pending.
Comparison of number of ships taking USMMA midshipmen
Pre-stand down cancellation: 360 vessels available to USMMA for training (does not included 45 ROS ships welded to the dock)
Post-stand down cancellation: 164 158 vessels available to USMMA for training (includes 22 vessels operated by the 4 companies that are awaiting approval) (does not included 45 ROS ships welded to the dock)

I’m sure MARAD will come up with a new statistic to sell to Congress. It will probably report that the loss of Liberty Maritime raises the “percent of the commercial Sea Year training provided before the suspension” from 84% to 90%.

I do not have information as to why Liberty Maritime suspended participation. I suspect that we will learn that the barriers created by the protocol developed by MARAD were simply too cumbersome.

Secretary Chao:  We need the selections for the new Maritime Administrator and Deputy Maritime Administrator to be announced STAT!



  1. It appears that companies ashore offering internships do not comply with these provisions. If not, why are they not required if it is in the safety of the students?

  2. Here is the growing concern and issue. This is beyond pathetic and on the brink of incompetence if not criminal

    Enough sitting and waiting and hoping. Who has to rise and fight for the young men and women who are just being discarded by MARAD and dot with each passing day with no progress and each passing day where more damage is done

    MARAD and Helis and anyone who should be doing right for these fine young Americans and haven’t need to be called out and publically held accountable and responsible.

    We don’t need fancy plans and buzzwords one can hear on a take home cd you buy at Staples. Sitting and waiting isn’t working for the plan that MARAD is getting away with is at the expense of innocent young persons

    Who fights for them? Who stands up for them? This is a pathetic demonstration by those who should be leading as failing.

    Who is going to unit the stakeholders and take the issues to the fight and hold szabat Helis and a few others accountable and responsible ?

  3. That goes for former MARAD employees, too.
    The hypocrisy continues.
    When he was Deputy Maritime Administrator, Michael Rodriguez was the point man in defending the stand down. He was frequently asked why cadets from state maritime schools were permitted to sail on those ships too dangerous for Kings Pointers. He always claimed (falsely I believe) that MARAD had no authority over those schools. Therefore MARAD couldn’t even advise those schools that US flagged commercial vessels were floating dens of iniquity.
    What a difference a change of scenery can make. Now that he’s parleyed his position at MARAD into his new job as the superintendent at Texas A & M Maritime Academy, the warm waters of the Gulf seem to have given him a new insight: His cadets are sailing on those (formerly) awful ships that Kings Pointers are still barred from.
    It now appears that what’s sauce for the goose is poison for the gander.

    • Last week I posted two possibilities.. First, that Rodriguez was morally bankrupt if he sent Texas kids out on supposedly dangerous commercial ships as he had been saying since June. The other option, was that he had simply been lying about the danger. I chose to believe he was simply a liar.
      If Texas kids are out on Liberty Shipping vessels I suspect I was right. He’s just a liar.

      • Liberty Maritime only has six ships. I tend to doubt that they are carrying Texas cadets. But, if Texas cadets are on any ship that has not gone through the MARAD approval process, your point is still well taken.

        • Isn’t that still like 5% of the fleet? That speaks more to the overall health of the US Flagged shipping industry, but it’s not an insignificant number in the grand scheme of things.

  4. If true, I’m not surprised. Why would any company set itself up for lawsuits and big money damage awardsandvadditional expense? It’s easier to just avoid the problem by not participatingat all.
    Guess what? Now even fewer mids, including female mids, will have their opportunity to go to sea in the manner promoted by the Academy itself when recruiting. GREAT JOB AGAIN MARAD AND HELIS.
    I just hope it’s not true and if it is true I urge Liberty Maritime to reconsider, if not for its own benefit but for the sake of our mids.

  5. Secretary Chao may have her hands tied as far as putting new appointed leadership in place at MARAD. President Trump has announced that he does not intend to fill every job in the Executive Branch that he is permitted to fill —

    One need only look at the length of time the last administration took to fill the Maritime Administrator after the change in administrations (8 months)to get some idea of how low the priority is for filling the positions of Maritime Administrator & Deputy Maritime Administrator. When you add the fact that MARAD is essentially a failed agency in that it has failed to create and maintain a strong global merchant fleet, and its real day-to-day functions (Ready Reserve Force / National Defense Reserve Fleet, Maritime Subsidy Program and Kings Point) could be easily assigned to other agencies to operate, the bigger question may be whether MARAD will continue to exist one year from now, let alone whether there will be a Maritime Administrator.

    Finally, dissolution of MARAD and transfer of Kings Point to a stakeholder agency, such as U.S. Transportation Command, would go a long way to resolving the MARAD HQ vs. Kings Point funding and management issues that are the core reasons for MSCHE not re-accrediting Kings Point.

  6. I may have missed this, but does this listing include Military Sealift Command capacity? Doesn’t MSC provide a meaningful impact to these statistics?

    Just as a note, isn’t the real question here whether all of the midshipmen and cadets, no matter their school, are getting out to a productive seayear, rather than some abstract statistical goal?

    If the goal here is incitement, ok, but that is different from being meaningful.

    There is clearly some three card monty going on here with this stand down or whatever correctly depicts it, and maybe even Title 9 control motivations at the congressional level, among other conspiracy theories at work. But this group will be more effective if it is accurate and focused on meaningful issues, rather than what precise percentage of some non-normalized capacity sample is under discussion at a particular point in time.

    I guess as a practical matter I suggest focusing on whether the mids/cadets are getting out on meaningful assignments, as opposed to an abstract bed count. The ranting can continue, but are the facts both correct and meaningful? What is this effort trying to achieve?

    • MSC was stood down for a very brief period of time. The government took the position that the government has its SASH act together and therefore did not need to stand down government ships for long. The problem with MSC is that it does not have the capacity to absorb all of the midshipmen. It did boost the number of midshipmen it was taking — reportedly by using berths it would normally use as trainee positions for new officers. Consequently, many graduates learned that jobs they had been expecting with MSC were no longer available or the start date was delayed by many months. MSC cannot do it alone (and in many ways does not provide the same experience).

      The “real question” is whether the current KP midshipmen stuck in this mess are getting a productive sea year and, in particular, getting adequate training at all. There is no question that state school cadets continue to train on their training ships and are able to augment that training on commercial vessels — many of them taking the billets that were supposedly not safe for KP midshipmen. There are KP midshipmen who got almost no sea time during their sea year. There are KP midshipmen who could not complete their sea projects because of the nature of their assignments — How are you going to do the navigation-related portions of your sea project when you are on a ship that is welded to the dock? How can you do a cargo project on a ship that carries no cargo? The administration is claiming that there are no midshipmen who will face delayed graduation as a result of the stand down cancellation. This year’s graduation won’t tell the story since the stand down cancellation only affected the last portion of one split’s sea year. But, I fear that next year’s graduation will be an entirely different story. And I also fear that this administration is focused on delays in graduation due to having the minimum number of days at sea — it won’t count someone who is setback or kicked out for failing a sea project (because it was impossible to complete) as a stand down cancellation-related delay.

      As to whether the midshipmen are getting meaningful assignments, the answer is a resounding “No.” When you hear from the midshipmen and hear about how little sea time they got it is so disheartening. You’ve got midshipmen sleeping on the Kings Pointer one night a week during the semester and they are calling that sea time. The Academy is trying to technically comply with the sea day requirement with no consideration for the value of the experience for the midshipmen.

  7. Question: as per your scenario above: Have there been any mids who have not been able to complete a sea project through no fault of their own but instead due to an unavailability of recourses or experience on their ships while still technically having enough sea days? I have been hearing rumblings about this turning into a real problem but nothing solid.

    If so, does anyone know how the academy plans to handle that problem ? You can’t morally fail a kid for incomplete work if u failed to provide them with the opportunity to do the work.

    Not being sarcastic here– really want to know because I have been wondering how mids who are on ships that don’t move can do a navigation project or a cargo project. The engineering stuff is I think easier to figure out.

    B patient with your responses. I am not a mariner– just a concerned parent.

    • Yes, there are mids who have not been able to complete their sea projects through no fault of their own. When you are on a ship that is at the dock 60% of the time and then gets underway and the weather is overcast, you are screwed. It happened. Others have been assigned to vessels that simply do not get underway very often (and thus cannot complete critical elements of the sea project) and have been told that they will be set back. There are engineering mids who were assigned ships of under 10,000 hp. Although they fully completed their sea projects, because the ships lacked some of the equipment expected to be included in the sea project, they received lower grades. There are mids who completed sea year projects based upon Internet research rather than hands on experience.

      It is important to remember also that grades are important for job opportunities. As just one example, if a midshipman decides to go active duty, his/her GPA has a significant impact on the choices of assignments available to the midshipmen. Those with higher GPAs get first choice on the plum assignments. So even if a mid was able to finish the sea project but couldn’t do a quality job due to no fault of his/her own, he/she is likely to suffer.

  8. With so few vessels counted as active merchant ships in the U.S. fleet, this whole exercise to approve them on the basis of SASH, smacks of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The resource of having so few ships available for the meaningful training of future merchant marine officers makes it especially important not to alienate these vital companies with un-informed and unnecessary strictures. The underlying precept is also, that these companies were somehow complicit in allowing SASH problems to emerge. Of course, you would then have less companies willing to go above and beyond. If it is true what I hear, that midshipmen might fail their Sea Year assignment(s) and thereby not qualify for graduation, much less have enough sea time for licensing requirements, I believe the proverbial s**t will hit the fan. Everybody, midshipmen, parents, alumni, the industry, will demand drastic changes at Kings Point. The explicit promise of a first-class education, combined with practical experience, will have been broken and the institution will take a long time to recover from this fiasco.


    Time for AAF, and NPA, to push language that requires that SMA’s MUST comply with the requirements as applied to USMMA Midshipmen for sailing with a company or on a vessel.

    MARAD controls funding to the SMA- don’t let them tell us otherwise. MOC should add language to the NDAA that no SMA will receive funding unless they sail on the same vessels and with the same companies that are approved for the USMMA. PERIOD.

    Time to start pushing requirements for the SMA especially since they have 6-7 seats at the table in a process that will dictate the future of sea year at the USMMA and the Midshipmen at that USMMA. If they require it for our men and women it should apply for their cadets as well

    • There are not enough billets to take all the state maritime school cadets on commercial ships. And remember, there are only a small number of ships that can be required to take midshipmen from KP, let alone all of the state schools.

      Indeed, this is one of the biggest concerns about the state schools’ needs for training ships. If they don’t have training ships, their only choice is to compete with KP for spaces on commercial ships. What happens when a state school decides to offer shipping companies a stipend for taking their students over USMMA midshipmen? This is not a theoretical concern — there is reportedly zero support in the current administration for using federal funds to acquire state school training ships. So if the state schools get frozen out of federal funding, they will be doing the budget analysis to figure out what to do — I see three choices: (1) Fund their own ship (huge investment); (2) pay shipping companies to take their cadets (easily passed on to the student who can get a student loan for it); (3) close.

  10. Let’s agree to this. The time has come for people to unite and start standing up to this in a public way
    Maybe a federal lawsuit against MARAD and the academy leadership for damages. Damages to the Midshipmen , the companies painted as these evil entities

    Maybe time for the AAF to start speaking out publically and apply constant pressure on the Academy leadership and MARAD for answers and results on Sea Year, accreditation, capital.

    Hard to understand why the groups In place can’t start to publically push for answers and action. Sit and wait really hasnt worked in seven months.

    It is a puzzling approach or lack of one in not publically defending the academy and Midshipmen and the companies

    We know Helis should be defending the Academy and Midshipmen as its leader but he is not. He is executing the plan that the two stooges who left wanted or were a part of, and he and Szabat are working at completing each day they are in power.

  11. I’ve said this a thousand times and folks get mad at me every time, but here we go again.
    Politics and media are what they are, not what we might want them to be. The politicians and the media, wrongfully I believe, have been and continue to be focused on SASH no matter what we do to demonstrate that the true problem at the academy, as per Middle States, is management. While both men and women can be assaulted or harassed, the numbers MARAD promotes for SASH portray it as disproportionately a problem for female mids. That ‘s the way they want it and that’s what they have succeeded in portraying to politicians and to the media throughout this mess.
    I don’t like it, but the reality is that a bunch of older white men attacking the Academy policy, even if we are right, will not get any attention and will be ignored by the media and the politicians.
    As such, if we really want to get the attention we need, the opposition to the stand down has to be led by women mids and women alunmi. Think how dramatic it would be if a a group of women mids and alumni held a press conference right after graduation complaining about the stand down. Think about what would happen if a bunch of women mids signed a public letter saying that their education is being hampered and destroyed. What could Helis say if he was being attacked by the very people he is claiming to protect.
    Again, before people get mad at me for singling out the women mids, I know that it is unfair to put this burden on the women mids I want you to know thatI fully understand why any mid, male or female, would refuse to take part in such an attack on the administration. They have to deal with the administration every day and they may feel scared or threatened. Unfortunately, the fact that it is difficult doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be effective.
    Helis has the media and the political atmosphere on his side right now and that’s just a reality. We have to fight fire with fire.
    I believe that the AAF is doing what it can behind the scenes but modern political media is all about optics and sound bites. Imagine the optics of a bunch of women grads, preferably in their formal uniforms (if that is not a violation), standing outside Vicory gate talking in a respectful manner about how Helis is destroying the education of their sister mids. It would get media coverage all over the place. That’s where we are failing, even though we are right on the issues.
    Again, the fact that my proposal is difficult and unfair doesn’t mean
    that it is wrong.

  12. There are at least THREE people who need to be held to account for this mess. It will not be enough to have a new MARAD Administrator and new Deputy Administrator.

    Individuals responsible for this hoax must be held accountable and responsible for their decisions, and they must pay a price.

    The Midshipmen must see and understand that their are serious repercussions for such behavior.

    If they do not see right and just punishment, what lesson(s) will they have learned?

  13. FYI, Liberty has not pulled out of the cadet program. They wanted more time to train their senior officers on the new policies. We just underwent this on the Liberty Passion. They expect to have KP cadets return to their ships soon.

    • I confirmed during my discussions with MARAD’s Owen Doherty over the last week or so that Liberty was not yet accepting KP cadets; however, he was expecting that the situation would change soon (with Liberty then taking KP cadets) and indicated that he was in regular communication with Liberty. So your information matches what I have been hearing.

  14. Again, KPS acknowledges either a misunderstanding or a change. This is where credibility is built up. I sound like a sycophant when I sat this about KPS so regularly but the ability to post honestly and to react to new information without prejudice is exactly why KPS is an extremely reliable source of info.

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