Joseph Keefe over at MaritimeProfessional.com has been digging into the SASH numbers. Read the whole thing — it’s very well written but I want to comment on this passage:
[I]t is clear that these students are safer while on board the garden variety U.S. flag merchant vessel than they are when they are sleeping in their own dormitory on campus at Kings Point. That’s what the numbers tell us. Marad owes these shipping companies, their merchant mariners and the midshipmen themselves, an unambiguous apology.
He’s right. That’s what the statistics show. And as for the number of sexual assaults away from campus that Mr. Keefe cites — two in 2014 — it’s important to note that according to footnote 14 of the 2014 survey (available here), that’s an extrapolation because not all of the midshipmen responded to the survey. (As an aside, isn’t it more likely that those who did not respond chose not to because they had not experienced any SASH?). So, if you look at Table 9 (p.17) of the 2014 survey, you see that there was only one officially reported case at sea. I agree with Mr. Keefe that even one assault is too many. But, the extrapolation process doubled that number.
BTW, here’s another takeaway from Table 9 — look where the incident at sea took place: On board a Military Sealift Command ship. (I’m not condemning MSC for it; according to the report, MSC investigated the incident and recommended discipline.) But, MARAD condemned an entire industry for SASH at sea and when it modified the sea year
stand down cancellation, it allowed midshipmen on MSC ships because it said they had good SASH policies in place. Well SASH policies didn’t stop the attack. Moreover, virtually every American-flagged merchant shipping company has good SASH policies in place and MARAD trashed them and won’t let midshipmen back on their ships even if they have NO history of SASH.