Helis is finally gone

Colonel James A. Helis, the superintendent who lacked the competence, experience, and credentials to sail as a wiper or ordinary seaman, and who never should have helmed the US Merchant Marine Academy, is finally out.  Effective this afternoon, Deputy Superintendent Susan Dunlap will serve as acting Superintendent.

It is my understanding that a highly credentialed, eminently qualified, Kings Pointer has been selected as the next superintendent.  I think s/he will be well-received by all stakeholders as a leader in the industry who understands the Academy, its mission, and its role in the support of the nation’s interests. I understand that the only delay in announcing the selection is the security/Office of Personnel Management clearance process and that the necessary clearance is expected any day now.

Helis  told midshipmen at an “all hands” meeting tonight that he was moving to a position in the Office of Aviation and International Affairs under Joel Szabat, the former Executive Director of MARAD who was largely responsible for hiring Helis.  Szabat was also responsible for protecting Helis throughout Helis’ failed tenure as Superintendent. (Szabat was also responsible for misinforming Congress about the impact of the Sea Year stand down cancellation.)  Helis will go down in Academy infamy as the superintendent who presided over the placement of the Academy on accreditation warning by its national accreditation agency and the superintendent who lacked the courage to stand up to DOT Secretary Fox when Fox issued the order to stand down cancel Sea Year, a  core portion of the Academy’s curriculum that to this day suffers from Helis’ failure of leadership.

With the news that Helis is now in the DOT Office of Aviation and International Affairs,  I fear for the aviation industry.  This might be a good time to sell aviation related stocks short.


  1. Sad sad sad. This man was not a leader and not someone anyone who had the best interest of the academy and it’s midshipmen who should have been in charge
    Today was like the wicked witch of the west getting water sprayed on her. Once he said he is leaving and melted away the mids celebrated.
    When mids are told don’t you dare clap or cheer when Helis announces something or a price will be paid, it’s a clear indication that his slackers knew the joy this announcement would give all the important stakeholders

    Now we have an interim Sup who currently manages the facilities and is not proactive but reactive. Mold. Furniture. Deplorable. God help us that we get a real leader in place ASAP. Were all those recent communications from her a sign she was being propped up for today’s leadership change Well if people were doing their jobs there wouldn’t be mold and if there was, fix it and stop writing about what a great job your doing fixing what you let happen. Hmm kind of like sea year and like accreditation. We aren’t stupid so please top using the same play book KP leadership.

  2. Hollis is obviously a very intelligent person, who served our country honorably in the Army. But, he did not have the maritime background and experience to qualify him to lead USMMA. His shortcomings harmed Kings Point, perhaps irreparably. I am hopeful that placing a Kings Pointer in as Supt. will change direction, and provide the necessary leadership. The sooner this happens, the better.

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