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.