Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, ’79, to be nominated as Maritime Administrator

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.

 

 

 

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17 Comments

  1. This is perhaps the best news that KP has had in a very long time. Congratulations Rear Admiral Buzby. I truly hope the first official act he accomplishes, is asking for the resignation of Helis. It’s time he left, and not one person will shed a tear he has left.

    What happened to the June 15 article on the soccer team? It never posted here.

  2. This is a great choice to take command of the Maritime Administration and supervision of the state and federal academy-Kings Point. RADM Buzby is an individual of uncompromising vision, knowledge and integrity. God Steer thee well! America has a brilliant, seafarer in command! Great things will soon happen and continue to happen!

  3. hopefully he will sweep the deck and dump all the current on-site leaders (??) at KP.
    time to start over again and get back to the Academy’s Basic Mission.
    not creating officers for the military branches but creating Mariners and future leaders of the dying US Merchant Marine.
    so we will see if we get Actions – or more Political (bs) Words.
    and creating a proper educational environment – including a Practical Sea Year –
    to properly train the mids.

  4. I am encourage by what I have learned today regarding RADM Buzby both here and elsewhere, it seems he will hold people accountable at all levels of MARAD and the Academy.

    I’m confident our Senators from the Great State of Alabama will vote to confirm the Admiral, we have a vibrant port here in Mobile, we build a version of the Navy’s LSC here, and Airbus is building A320’s a few miles from where Austal builds the LSC. Thus, Transportation and Navy topics are of top interest to our current senators and our current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who hails from Mobile.

    In the tradition of the Battle of Mobile Bay, I would counsel RADM Buzby to follow the advice of ADM Farragut: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

  5. I never get too high or too low about any endorsementone thing. Other than being an academy parent, I don’t know much about the maritime industry but everyone I have spoken to seems thrilled by by Buzby’s appoint, so that’s a great sign.
    What I do know alot about is government and politics in general. So, don’t expect changes overnight at the Academy. My suspicion is that things will not change much for for at least one more year, except that the stakeholders will become more involved in the planning/ accreditation processes. The short term improvement will be in general morale among the mids, the staff and the stskeholders. The real changes will begin in the 2018/19 year I suspect.
    As such, we have to keep working on getting the 2019 and 2020 kids quality sea year time in the interim. They remain the biggest losers at the moment.
    Good Luck Admiral Buzby.

    • Good insight about how slowly the freaking government moves. It’s no wonder we are essentially Bankrupt (yes, if it were a business, it would be bankrupt).

      Government Bureaucracies fight back by dragging their feet in implementing political policy changes they personally disagree with, we have seen that the past 5 months throughout Washington in every Department.

      RADM Buzby can however put heavy pressure on those that don’t quit on their own by holding frequent meetings with them regarding updates and action, with real consequences (i.e. job reassignments, poor performance reviews resulting in little to no pay increases, etc) if no action is being taken. Example of having a weekly meeting with the Division which is accrediting Shipping Companies to take Mids, many of whom have been waiting for months now to hear when/if they can take Mids again.

      RADM Buzby needs to meet with the ATR’s as a whole, with or without Helis, and explain the realities of the new world about getting Mids out to sea with zero delays, he could easily ask for a weekly WebEx update from the ATR’s on numbers of Mids out to sea, numbers waiting, actions taken in the last week to move the needle, Helis can join the call or not, no matter to RADM Buzby.

      RADM Buzby probably has the clout to call CEO’s of approved companies and get a few more empty bunks available to the Mids. RADM Buzby probably has the clout to call the CNO and get dozens of Mids on Navy and MSC ships within a week or two. A CNO directive being sent out to ships asking for spots will move Mids out to sea fast. I get the impression CDR Justin Hart had much more clout in opening Navy spots this year than Helis ever did, even though Helis has tried to take the credit. The ATR’s need to know who is calling the shots, and there is someone here now who will clear the path for them to do their jobs more effectively.

      RADM Buzby needs to meet with the Academy Senior Leadership and explain things will change, with them taking the lead, or without them there, their choice. This year the Commandant and Acting Dean need to decide where their loyalty lies. To the education and training of the Mids and what is best for them to help their success as students and future leaders, or to the Super who hired them and expects loyalty to him above all else?

      On the flip side, some of the Senior Staff at KP will flourish with Buzby’s direction, and be more embolden to stand up to the Super for what is right with less fear of retaliation. We need to get rid of the “yes men/women” reporting to the Super, we need a staff that will tell the Supe what he needs to hear, not what he demands to hear.

      My gut is that the sycophant press like Newsday on Long Island will criticize RADM Buzby throughout this first year for being a micro-manager, their unnamed sources will be from Wiley Hall and the Dean’s office…. Unfortunately as a leader, all to often that has to be done with your chronically poor performers until they either change their behavior, or more realistically until they get fired or resign under pressure.

      My prediction: Sometime around Christmas Break, or just after, it will be announced that RADM Helis has decided to retire to spend more time with his wife, children, and grandchildren, and it will be effective June 2018 after 39 years of service to his country as an Army Officer, Army War College Professor, and Supe to KP; and that an immediate search will begin for his replacement. RADM Buzby will thank Helis for his service to the country and then shift to an explanation of what they will be looking for in a Super to begin leading the Academy towards it’s Centennial in 2041.

      The only way Helis gets fired publicly is for gross insubordination. Even though Helis is a pure academician in his heart, as a Colonel, he knows better than to do something that stupid with real leaders of men and women like RADM Buzby.

      “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”.

  6. This development only lends support to my conviction, that only individuals from the industry, who know and care about this industry, are the ones fit for duty and to train future leaders in this industry. Kings Point cannot afford someone from an unrelated military branch to become the next superintendent.

    Finally we have a viable candidate who is purely results oriented. He will also have the skills to navigate the corridors of Washington and I am elated to hear this news! However, at the moment, the Academy is still in crisis and in a purely reactive non-communicative, dare I say it, poorly chosen defensive posture. This challenge must be overcome for there to be any progress. My concern is part of the reason I have decided to attend Homecoming 2017, after graduating 35 years ago.

    • Ralph, I look forward to seeing you, and hopefully a large contingent of our classmates. there. I’ve already got my airline ticket. Andy

  7. While I agree that the super should, in the best of all worlds, be a grad of USMMA for a whole host of reasons, particularly given the unique nature of the school, he OR SHE need not be a commercial merchant mariner per se. Someone like Admiral Buzby , would offer the best of all worlds in terms of at sea military/MSC/ commercial knowledge and experience.
    One of my problems with Helis, whose long service to our country I have great respect for, is that he does not fit into any of the above categories. He is a military academician, lacking experience in any of the very areas unique to KP. I don’t think he ever quite has grasped what the school is supposed to be, being much more suited for West Point , VMI or the Citadel. Just an observation– not meant to be an insult.

  8. I think it is significant that Mark Buzby has the unique credential of being the former CO of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), and now nominated to be the Maritime Administrator. These two agencies, MSC and MARAD, have been at loggerheads for decades particularly in regards to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) program. The RRF ships, owned by MARAD, come under MSC operational control (OPCON) when activated for DOD missions. ADM Buzby is a good choice to end this often contentious relationship between the two agencies.

    How this will effect KP is anyone’s guess.

  9. As to leadership at the Academy, I can talk from experience. The current fiasco involved in hiring a new band director is summed up by the previous administration’s avoidance of discussing the possible hiring. My 46 years of service to the Government Alumni and Midshipmen obviously meant nothing, including my selection to the prestigious American Bandmasters Association ( only 6 honorary members including Japan and Australia). Frankly, I had a call from the Director of the US Army Band Pershing’s Own, After the job was posted he said, “are these people crazy”??? And several members of the ABA who said the same thing! Once again, the person who was best qualified to assist with hiring was never consulted. But, it gets better. I am a fully credentialed, highest tier, Alcohol Substance Abuse Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Alcoholism. My official collateral duty was to serve on the Alcohol treatment team. Alcohol is the major substance abuse problem on most college campuses. We had substantial success. Part of the program was to bring students to witness OPEN AA meetings. These are meetings open to the public. Our success rate had an incredible less no than 10 percent relapse rate. We also know that Alcohol has fueled the majority of Sexual Abuse incidents. Yet the Administration never called me in and had spent thousands of dollars on unlicensed “counselors” sent in by MARAD. I am Credentialed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Services. I also have kept meticulous attendance​ records to substantiate the midshipmen compliance with the program. As several alumni and midshipmen have said, “Captain Force, they had to get rid of you. You knew too much!

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