Yesterday it was announced that President Trump intends to nominate Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark H. “Buz” Buzby, ’79, as his Maritime Administrator. The president could not have picked anyone more perfectly suited for the position.
I’ve known Buzby since 1978 when I was a plebe candidate and he was a first classman. His leadership skills were evident then; and, long before he was commissioned as an Ensign, there was never a doubt in the minds of anyone that knew him that he would make admiral in the U.S. Navy. The only question was when — not whether — he would do so. You can see a narrative of his accomplishments and a list of his many high honors here. I suspect that one of the ones that Buzby has worn most proudly over all these years is one of the first ones he earned — the Surface Warfare Officer insignia. Buz is a shipdriver not a paper pusher. He excelled in the Navy because he lived the Academy motto: Acta non verba.
As one who 39 years ago predicted Buzby’s success in the U.S. Navy, I have similar confidence predicting that Buzby’s leadership of MARAD will be exemplary. This will be the first time in over eight years that MARAD has been headed by someone with true knowledge of the commercial maritime industry. This will be the first time in over eight years that MARAD will be led by someone who truly values the US Merchant Marine Academy and its importance to the nation. This will be the first time in eight years that MARAD will be led by someone who will want to build bridges to Academy stakeholders rather than burn bridges underneath them.
Don’t expect, however, that Buzby will give the Academy a free ride. This will also be the first time in over eight years that we can expect accountability at every level — from midshipmen, staff, faculty at the Academy all the way to the Maritime Administrator himself. You can expect that he will set high standards for the Academy, its personnel, and the midshipmen. You can expect that he will hold everyone to those high standards. But, you can expect that those standards will be administered fairly, objectively, competently, and with far more transparency than we have seen in the past eight years. That’s all that those of us who want the Academy to thrive and regain its footing as the preeminent maritime academy in the world have been asking for.
If and when Buzby is confirmed, the crisis for the Academy will not be solved. Sea year is still not close to being fully restored; accreditation remains in jeopardy; and the Academy must still address those SA/SH issues that remain unresolved. But we can expect that Buzby will truly lead the efforts to solve those problems, effectively communicate what needs to be done, and get everyone working in unison to save the ship. Those who wish to push hidden agendas while the ship founders would be smart to abandon ship now.
Buzby will need the assistance of all stakeholders in righting the ship. That support should be freely given. All should have confidence that in addressing the issues at the Academy, Buzby has no hidden agenda — his goal will be to place the “Battle E” on the Academy’s bridge wing. You can begin showing that support by writing both of your senators and urging them to act quickly in considering and approving Buzby’s nomination.