So who thinks sea year is unsafe for midshipmen?

Someone pointed out to me tonight that every single stakeholder — other than three people — thinks sea year is safe. Let’s review:

  • We know the midshipmen think it’s safe — many of whom have sailed on commercial ships;
  • We know their parents think it’s safe — many of whom have sailed on commercial ships;
  • We know the alumni think it’s safe — all of whom have sailed on commercial ships;
  • We know the maritime unions think it’s safe — and their members have all sailed on commercial ships;
  • We know the shipping industry thinks it’s safe — and they run the commercial ships;
  • We know the state maritime schools think it’s safe — they wasted no time placing their midshipmen into the billets on commercial ships that were vacated when sea year was cancelled.

Now let’s look at the three people who don’t think it’s safe:

  • Maritime Administrator Chip Jaenichen;
  • Superintendent James Helis; and
  • Academy Advisory Board Chair Sharon van Wyk.

Guess what they all have in common?  <trick question alert>

a)  none of them have ever been employed on a commercial ship;

b)  none of them are graduates of a maritime academy, state or federal;

c) none of them are USCG licensed officers eligible to stand a watch on a commercial ship;

d)  all three were in the room on June 10, 2016 with Secretary of Transportation Foxx, trying to explain why the Academy was in danger of losing accreditation because of events that occurred on their watch — six days before the stand down cancellation was announced;

e) none of them had uttered a peep about an SA/SH problem during sea year until they needed an excuse to explain why the Academy was placed on accreditation warning status by MSCHE.



  1. Good summary. If midshipmen are safer on ships than at the Academy, then they need sea year reinstated for their safety. Also put KP’ers at the helm of KP and MARAD.

  2. Is it perhaps time for the Midshipmen to be pointed to the 1969 “White Paper” which ultimately resulted in the retirement of the Superintendent in 1970? For those of you who aren’t that old there is a good treatment of the entire issue in the history of the Academy “In Peace and ‘War”. The bottom line is that entire Regiment, less those at sea, were marched off of the Academy by the first classmen (Class of 69) when the Superintendent retaliated against their White Paper which condemned the management of the school.

    • I just posted on the Important Documents page a link to the introductory section of The White Papers. It’s the “airing of the grievances” without the detailed discussion of those grievances. A direct link is here. This excerpt was published in Hear This back in December 2012. If anyone has the full copy, I’ll be happy to post it.

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