Helis lied. Sea Year died.

Looks like my $100,000 bet is officially safe.

It should have been an easy bet to win.  After all, the leader of an institution that has an honor code that forbids a midshipman from lying, cheating or stealing wouldn’t lie, would he?  Or, if he did, surely he would immediately tender his resignation. After all, any competent leader would recognize that at that point he had lost all moral authority to lead the institution.  Right?  Right?

Back in July, I offered $100,000 to the first person who could prove that Superintendent James Helis had not lied in this message posted on the Academy website.  No one took the bet. Well Terry Gray reports that two weeks ago at the New York Parents Club meeting, a parent upped the bet and offered to buy Helis dinner and keep his (the parent’s) mouth shut for ever if Helis could prove that he had not lied.  And Helis finally admitted that his statement was false.  Here’s Terry’s report:

Apropos of your point that, “… that Academy leadership has… lied about what the Middle States Accreditation Commission said about sea year and SA/SH…”

At the meeting of the New York Parents club two weeks ago, the guest speaker was Adm. Helis. One of the parents confronted him about statements put out on the Academy website, as recently as October 26th, indicating that the Middle States Report said that SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA”, is a problem. The parent offered to buy him dinner and to keep his mouth shut forever on the issue if he (Helis) could show us where it said that in the report.

At first, as evidence that the Middle States report said SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA” was a problem, he referred to language therein that talked about the need to increase safety and respect for the students at sea.

The parent responded that while that particular portion of the report was accurate, the report did not say (as claimed by the academy in its various releases) that SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA” was the problem. In fact, it was pointed out that the very next line of the Middle States report specifically mentioned SASH ON CAMPUS as a problem while never once referring specifically to SASH AT SEA. In fact, the report recommends that students get more training before and after going to sea. It never once talks about not letting them go to sea at all.

Helis then said that the academy statements regarding SASH, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA,” were also based upon the other studies that they had done and that was the reason for the stand down.

He was then asked outright, “So why do your own press releases state, without any reference whatsoever to those other reports, that the Middles States report refers to a SASH problem, “PARTICULARLY AT SEA,” when in fact it never does.

At that point he lost his cool and said something along the lines of, “So it’s wrong — do you want to argue over one wrong word or sentence?” (at which point several people in the audience yelled out that yes they did, indeed, want to argue over one wrong word or sentence).

So, trapped in a corner he finally told the truth. And it only took five months.

UPDATE: As of Friday, Nov. 25 (date updated), the academy website continues to perpetuate the lie: it still states: “The Middle States Commission on Higher Education… has issued a warning with recommendations regarding… combating sexual harassment and assault, particularly during Sea Year….”

There you have it: two weeks after finally admitting that Middle States did not say that there was a SASH problem, “particularly at sea…” academy leadership continues its misrepresentation, undoubtedly confident that there were only a few people present when the truth finally came out.

Have you no shame sir? Do the right thing.  Resign.


  1. I agree that Helis is part of the problem and needs to resign. That said as Justin Harts pointed out recently over on Facebook he’s only part of the problem and we need further changes and action at MARAD and DOT and at KP itself to install better leadership top to bottom for the Academy. All that said SASH issues do need to be quickly and forcefully addressed as do the other issues cited in the MSCHE report that KP is in warning for right now. Helis should resign as should Dunlop neither has the qualifications or experience necessary to address these issues and unite the stakeholders necessary to do so. Their continued presence only provides continued distractions to fixing things. Finally another report by anybody even a group of qualified people isn’t necessary the SAGR reports and the MSAHE reports provide all that’s needed for a competent leadership team to begin fixing things immediately. With a student body of excellent young men and women and a motto if “Acta Non Verba” we only need a group of leaders (SecTrans, MARAD Administrator, and Superintendent) to put an action plan in place and move out on it. Instead now 6 months later all we have is talk and two classes of midshipmen facing delayed graduations and or substandard professional training qualifications- which could now be issue number six when MSAHE returns this spring.

  2. On November 19th I sent an e-mail (see below) to External Affairs regarding the Academy’s web site where they refer to SASH “particularly at sea” source being MSCHE. I asked that they correct the site in view of Radm Helis’ latest statement. No correction has been made as of 11/26.
    It appears the Academy’s web site is perpetuating a falsehood. See below. I presume this misstatement came from External Affairs. It is time for it to be corrected.

    From Kings Point Sentry Comments


    RADM Helis finally admitted at a USMMA NY Metro parents meeting last evening (11/18/2016), when pressed extremely hard by a parent who is a Judge about MSCHE saying “SA/SH (particularly at Sea year)”… that… “fine… if MSCHE didn’t say it, it’s true anyway. The decision has been made. We can argue all night, but it doesn’t matter. So he finally admitted MSSCHE never said “SA/SH (particularly at sea year)”… and that it doesn’t matter anyway, because the decision to stand down sea year was made. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!


    Yet the Academy’s web site continues the myth


    The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the Academy’s accrediting organization, while finding that the Academy’s academic foundation is sound, and in many ways exemplary, has issued a warning with recommendations regarding two broad areas separate from academics: combatting (sic) sexual harassment and assault, particularly during Sea Year; and the governance structure of the USMMA.


    Is it possible to have the Academy make the necessary corrections/changes in the interests of using correct spelling and stating facts?

    I am sure it would be too much to ask for the site to address the management of the Academy rather than the more obscure “governance structure” which is designed to obscure the failed management at all levels.

  3. One person who we need to track down and contact is probable new Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. A billionaire shipping company owner. Not Transportation, but will have influence……



  4. Here is the amazing part. Congress and DOT have been told that the claim of SASH occurring at sea was fabricated by the Superintendent, the MARAD Administrator and given credibility by the DOT Secretary and it feels we are still falling on deaf ears.

    Not only did he admitted to that at the Monday meeting both he and Chip admitted infront of the BOV that there were zero incidents of SASH at sea last year.

    Now will come the claim they didn’t say that but it was taped and the press release can not be erased

    While we all want change and will get it the issue now is that we continue to let our midshipmen’s appointing members of Congress know what damage can and will be done before the three villains of the USMMA leave town

  5. So what is the AAF, with $$millions at their disposal, doing to influence who is nominated as Sec of Trans, Marad Administrator and Helis’ replacement. Wringing our hands after the fact is not why we donat.

    • Hey Bob, I’d say that the Foundation is in there fighting for us to the extent possible. Capt Tobin’s letter to Congress is a good example. Hopefully, the Supt’s bluff was called at the recent Parent’s meeting, and the tide will quickly turn on these three KP haters–Supt, Maritime Administrator and SecTransportation

  6. From: Midshipman X
    To: Company Officer X

    Subj: Leadership Failure to Lead by Example

    Ref: (a) Midshipman Regulations, dtd 16 May 2011

    1. Per reference (a) section 104.a.3, The midshipman honor code shall be revoked due to the failure of leadership to set the example as documented in http://www.kingspointsentry.com. The USMMA Superintendent, a civilian employee and member of the United States Maritime Service (USMS), a volunteer organization, is not accountable to a similar code of conduct required of the subordinate student body. Midshipman shall no longer be held accountable for lying per the Honor Code or Midshipman Regulations unless all USMMA civilian employees, who may also be a member of the USMS, are subject to the same ethical standard.

    Midshipman X

  7. What is the overall opinion on Trump’s new SecTrans nomination? Does anyone know how to approach her and help to clean house?

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