No progress, no communication.

It has been 38 days since “the path” to restoring sea year on commercial ships was opened. As I write this, not a single midshipman has started down that path.

Worse (if that is even possible), the deadline for MARAD and the Academy administration to show the Middle States Accreditation Committee that the Academy is back on track reacreditation-wise is only 16 days away. But we stakeholders know almost nothing about where things stand. The “USMMA Accreditation Update” on the Academy’s website is datelined June 30, 2016. Even after we called out the Academy for its failure to communicate about accreditation and pointed to the out-of-date information on the website, it still hasn’t provided an update.

One of the Middle States Accreditation Team’s recommendations (under Standard 6) was that the Academy

Develop specific means to enhance communication at all levels, especially in having institutional policies known so that there is a prevailing sense of mutual respect and commitment to the institutional mission.

If I were on the accreditation team that will be returning to the Academy next month, Exhibit 1 to show the abject failure of communication by the Academy would be its failure to continuously update its stakeholders about the progress of efforts to address the reaccreditation warning. Exhibit 2 would be the lack of communication about the restoration of sea year on commercial ships. Exhibit 3 would be the lack of information about the meetings of the “working group” appointed by MARAD as a result of legislation passed by Congress (at the instigation of MARAD) that will be making recommendations about the Academy’s sea year. The working group has met twice yet not a word from MARAD or the Academy. In fact, if it weren’t for our announcement, you would not even know the working group had been appointed. Want to know about the appointments to the “New Pipeline Safety Voluntary Information-Sharing System Working Group”? There’s a press release for that. Want to know about the group that is going to make recommendations for the future of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s sea year — click the arrow on the soundbar:

Unfortunately, you can’t make this stuff up — the leadership at the Academy really is that bad.


  1. Spoke to my mid this weekend. He and the others keep hearing that “sea year” is coming back but not one has a ship yet for March. The 2019s are now getting concerned about graduation but just as importantly, more are getting worried that they are just going to get thrown on state ships or ready reserve ships again. What was supposed to be the best part of their education has become a huge disappointment. The commitment made to them by the school has been broken.

    By the way, in terms of poor communication (as per middle states) the school website still talks about how the “world is our campus” and still has a whole section about sea year on commercial ships that I don’t think has been changed since my mid was applying. Of course, when my mid applied, it was accurate.

    Let’s face the facts. The school is still excellent academically (as per the middle states report), but this administration has simply mismanaged the place to the point of embarrassment. Thank god these guys are not responsible for actually fighting a war–we would all be speaking Russian.

    By the way, has Rodriquez cancelled sea year on commercial ships yet at Texas A&M. Just wondering.

    I apologize for the sarcasm, but what else is there left to say.

  2. If anyone is interested, I just checked the Texas Maritime website and it still talks about sailing on commercial ships. I guess SASH is not an issue for their mids, only ours.

    • That alone, right there, is why this whole situation stank to high heaven from the get-go. Just incredibly frustrating!

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