Here’s the text of the email released by MARAD:
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Contact: Kim Strong
Tel.: (202) 366-5807
United States Merchant Marine Academy Announces Resumption of Commercial Sea Year
Implements Strict Zero-Tolerance Policies
WASHINGTON – The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) today announced that Sea Year training for USMMA Midshipmen will resume on three commercial carriers beginning in March 2017. The reinstatement of the program follows the implementation of comprehensive new policies, including a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault and sexual harassment to ensure that the Academy’s standards for behavior, leadership and integrity are upheld.
“I commend the maritime industry’s efforts to combat sexual assault, sexual harassment and other coercive behaviors, particularly Crowley, Maersk and APL, which are the first companies to meet MARAD’s Sea Year requirements,” said Maritime Administration Executive Director Joel Szabat. “Commercial Sea Year training is a core training component of the Academy and its Midshipmen, and critical to the success of the industry, as today’s Midshipmen are tomorrow’s operators.”
“The results of these collaborative efforts establish a formal protocol that will improve conditions for the United States Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen. These young men and women will receive valuable training on commercial ships that will strengthen the industry overall,” continued Szabat.
Crowley Maritime Corporation, Maersk Line Limited, and American Presidents Line (APL), comprised half of the Academy’s commercial Sea Year program before it was suspended.
By order of then-Secretary Foxx, Midshipmen training on commercial vessels was suspended in June 2016, while the Maritime Administration (MARAD), industry and labor examined ways to ensure that training was conducted in a safe and respectful environment.
Since that time, MARAD, along with the industry and unions, has worked to establish requirements for companies providing Sea Year training opportunities for Midshipmen. These requirements include zero tolerance for sexual assault sexual harassment (SASH), vetted mentors, regular crew training, and no fraternization between crew and Midshipmen. These requirements will be reviewed after six months, and annually thereafter.
A consortium of maritime industry companies and labor organizations is working with MARAD to develop computer based training programs and best practices to combat SASH. In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017 requires a working group to report to Congress in September 2017 on efforts to further address SASH prevention and reporting.
In addition to the initial three shipping lines, MARAD is reviewing applications from other companies that have applied to meet the Sea Year requirements.
A full list of requirements is available on MARAD’s website at https://www.marad.dot.gov/
About time! Perhaps better late than never and hope that the Middies who need the sea time the most will be given priority on assignments. Next we need to address the issues of Accreditation especially the LEADERSHIP (or lack of it).
It should come as no surprise because both Crowley and Maersk representatives told MARAD that SASH is “rare” at sea and does not justify the Sea Year suspension when appearing before the USMMA Congressional Board of Visitors on November 14, 2016.
I have ben critical of the stand down from day one and I still think that the whole thing was a politic ally motivated and purely avoidable disaster.
That said, I also believe in giving credit where credit is due, so let me say thank you to Secretary Chao, Acting Administrator Szabat, Admiral Helis and of course the companies themselves for getting sea year on commercial ships going again. Let’s hope more companies are approved ASAP and that the administrative focus shifts to accreditation, which is the real danger to the school.
As a parent, I also want to thank KPS, the Parents Association and the USAAF. Without them, our kids would be sailing on state ships or ships that don’t move. Keep up the good work.
With this now hopefully out of the way, maybe the parents, the alumni and the administration can get on the same page for the good of the school and its students. In furtherance of that goal and pending how the sea year roll out and accreditation issue progress, I for one will do my best to refrain from posting critical comments on line.
I really think that a temporary truce between the stakeholders, if not a full peace treaty, is the proper approach for the moment. Positive actions should be met with positive reactions.
Parent: A truce requires that both sides “stand down” (to use a phrase that has become abhorrent in the context of sea year). As I’ve documented here, the machinery to permanently alter sea year was set in motion by the last administration on its way out the doors of power. Until that machinery is stopped, we must continue the battle. Superintendent Helis is part of that machinery. He has always wanted more classroom time for midshipmen to take humanities courses (this is what happens when you put a man who has never been to sea in charge). Indeed, important courses for deck and engine midshipmen were removed from the curriculum to make way for leadership courses a few years ago. One way to shorten sea year is to use a training ship, since you get 1.5 days credit for every day aboard. So Helis is fully onboard with keeping that machinery moving towards permanently altering the third class sea year as described in that post. Helis is one of the overseers of the entire working group. Deputy Superintendent Dunlap has been placed in charge of the subcommittee of the working group (along with a Mass Maritime employee) that has been charged with evaluating the recommendations of Secretary Foxx’s discredited, $363,000, LMI report. She’s onboard with Helis’ program. That working group is going to keep moving towards its preordained conclusion — ratifying the recommendation of the LMI report to have third class sea year be on training ships — even if there is a “truce.”
So no — there can be no truce right now. Until the new administration (1) takes control of the machinery and puts it back on the path that Congress established and (2) puts in real leadership at the Academy, we must continue to fight.
One of the major issues on accreditation is communications and leadership. My feeling is that we need to make a change in the leadership of the Academy to effect the change very quickly. I for one would highly reccommend Dr. Shashi Kumar who was formerly the Dean and acting Superintendent on two occasions. He is also a master mariner and an Honorary Kings Pointer and enjoys the respect of all stakeholders except perhaps a select few at Marad. I firmly beleive that if appointed even on an interim basis that he will regain full accreditation in a very short period of time.
I am a grad and have a son who graduated in 2010 and have known Dr. Kumar for many years.
Sincerely, Gordon Inouye’65
Perhaps I should explain.
I simply said I was going to refrain from negative personal attacks on line. I never said I was in agreement with everything else that is going on at the Academy.
In fact, I urge the Parents Association, KPS and the USMMA to keep up the pressure with facts and solid arguments as they have done all along. By now it should be pretty clear to anybody on this board that I read both the Academy website and KPS every day. Needless to say, I have found KPS to be a much more accurate source of information.
All I am suggesting is that in light of the “partial resumption” of sea year on commercial ships, we should tone down the rhetoric until given reason to do otherwise. For instance, in the past, Helis, according to the mids I’ve spoken to, has referred to the parents, alumni and KPS readers as “delusional”. If that type of rhetoric resurfaces, all bets are off as far as I am concerned.
For now, however, let’s try to work with the new administration to get what we want, starting, I suggest, with the appointment of Mr. Kumar as the new (and old) Superintendent. Everyone seems to respect him and I think, from what I have seen and heard (I only met him once), that he has the greatest chance of quickly getting the ship righted.
My point is that for the moment, our priority should be promoting Kumar, not attacking Helis personally. If Helis goes, let him go honorably. No need to pile on unless he resumes his attacks on our side.
Please don’t confuse my suggested change in tone with capitulation.
Keep up the good work, KPS. Your knowledgeable and ACCURATE information has been a life saver for the Academy
I agree with much of the above, principally offering an appointment to Capt. Kumar if only on an interim basis ( I would like to see it permanent) to right the listing ship of KP…as a fortunate engine graduate in 1970, and the father of a 2nd classperson, daughter now lamely at sea for her second sailing after two months at the dock we need a leadership that can inspire and I believe that Mr Kumar can do that.
Just as an aside, regarding the curriculum, there probably should be some changes geared towards the humanities, but they should be focused on the mission of the school. There should be serious classes offered in things like International Relations, Business Law and military history but that’s a discussion for another day and sea year, the very heart of the program, should not be sacrificed to that goal.
That type of change has to be discussed in a calm atmosphere, not a politicized one and would have to be implemented after a careful review of scheduling, cost and faculty quality and availability. None of this will happen in time to affect my mid because if done properly it would take years to implement. My guess is it would have to be done in manner that results in a Masters Degree over a five year period, but I have to admit that this is just uninformed speculation on my part.
I felt the first rumblings of a shift in policy when this occurred, as you say, Andy:
” … important courses for deck and engine midshipmen were removed from the curriculum to make way for leadership courses a few years ago … ”
I immediately questioned what ‘leadership’ meant to a superintendent from West Point who still refuses to acknowledge he might wish to sail on a working merchant ship for a few weeks to expose himself to a different style of leadership to what he is familiar with. You know, the type of authority not vested in the stripes on a shoulder board and possibly tempered by union rules.
And I sailed international registry with no union representation for either officers or crew!
Also noteworthy: humanities courses also serve to present ethical dilemmas and problems in bias that are transferable to real-life working situations, if meaningful classroom discussion ensues. A ship’s officer does need to have an appreciation for the humanities to also become a gentleman/lady.
(my 2 cents)