The $200 million (actually $300 million) question

Why did MARAD’s Chip Jaenichen plunge KP into chaos and disrupt the ability of midshipmen to graduate by cancelling sea year training? What demonstrable risk justified canceling legally-mandated training without warning? According to the Jaenichen: None.

Jaenichen’s tenure at MARAD is notable for hostility to KP – in contrast to the love shown for state maritime schools. The latest example: At the recent sea year stand down “crisis” conference, Jaenichen included the state schools’ lobbyist but excluded the USMMA-AAF lobbyist. From an event directly affecting KP!

What led to this fake crisis? Perhaps the $200MM answer lies in what Jaenichen recommended: put USMMA midshipmen on state school training ships instead of private ships. The state schools want funding from Congress to construct the first of six $200MM training ships. That’s a lot of money; but, if the state schools could tell Congress that they are training KP midshipmen – well, that would be a reason to fund the training ships. The next step is to close Kings Point and use its $99.9 million (FY17) annual appropriation as the funding source.

So, what led me to this conclusion? Bottom line – what Jaenichen and Superintendent Helis are saying is not true. They claim sexual assault at sea is a major problem. The facts don’t support them. First, the 2014-15 Report on sexual assault at KP said the 86% of women who reported assaults said the offender was associated with the Academy. This is hardly an indictment of sea year and shows that KP campus leadership is the problem – not the entire maritime industry.

Second, the recent Accreditation Report (which failed KP on 5 of 14 sections and put accreditation at risk) comments favorably about sea year, as a “rich and valuable experience” and “an invaluable and unique chance to have hands on experience.” The report’s only recommendation about sea year was that KP take demonstrable steps to address sexual assault in preparation for and upon return from sea year.

You can’t believe MARAD. Just look at how Helis mischaracterized the Accreditation report on KP’s website. He falsely claims that “[The accreditation report] issued a warning with recommendations regarding two broad areas separate from academics: combating sexual harassment and assault, particularly during Sea Year; and governance of the USMMA.” (Emphasis added.) The report did not say that. It was criticized problems at the Academy; not at sea. Read the report.

Finally, §204(d)(6) of Senate bill S.2829, which passed the Senate and is now in the House, creates a working group to “assess whether the USMMA should continue with sea year training on privately owned vessels.” That kind of language does not appear without someone carefully crafting it. I don’t know who did it, but I know that it means Jaenichen can continue to take KP on a path to ruin after he is long gone from MARAD. (Want to take a bet on whether he ends up working for the state schools’ lobbying firm?)

It is vital that sea year be reinstated immediately. Please write Secretary Foxx, and your elected representatives and ask them to put USMMA midshipmen back to sea immediately. This is an unacceptable situation for a federal service academy. Ask that Congress hold hearings to investigate why sea year was cancelled with no advance planing, with such dire consequences, and for no reason. Ask that Helis and Jaenichen be held accountable for the state of KP’s reaccreditation.

After I first published the above to LinkedIn, I was informed by a reader that the cost of a state ship had increased to $300 Million and that there was a request for that according to the May 11, 2016 Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate for HR 4909 (National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017), the Act includes an appropriation of $85 million towards the construction of a state school maritime training ship with an overall cost of $300 million. (The $215MM balance to be funded in successive years.)
See (at page 17)


  1. “Write Secretary Foxx”? Been there, done that. Foxx couldn’t care less about Kings Point. I’m not even sure he can spell Kings Point. This is Jaenichen’s baby and writing him is pointless. Our only hope is congress, and I’m not sure about gaining traction there in the middle of an election year.
    Sure is curious that MARAD is moving as fast as it can to get it’s SASH “consultants” on board, but doesn’t seem to be in any haste to address the accreditation issues. Rest assured the “consultants” will give Jaenichen exactly what he wants. Perhaps he’s already already written the report.
    Jaenichen and Helis have spent the last four years driving the academy aground. Who’s going to turn the ship around? Helis? He is altogether over his head. He’s the one who drove out Dr. Kumar, the one person at the academy who might have been able to make headway. David Palmer? Not likely, after all, he’s tainted with a degree from Kings Point, that den of iniquity that turns its students into predators.
    The good news is that Jaenichen (and Foxx) will be gone with the new administration. The bad news: Helis won’t.
    They say, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” In this case I think I’d rather take my chances with a new devil.

    • We have had two pieces of good news lately: The letter signed by 13 members of Congress to Foxx, Jaenechin and Helis and the letter the unions sent to Foxx.
      Both were very well written and addressed both the stand-down and accreditation.
      I also believe that MARAD has it out for KP, but I am surprised that they have been fairly good with funding over the past few years. I think the current budget is something like $100 million. So this is a bit confusing, but I don’t know how the budgeting process works.

  2. RADM Helis finally admitted at a USMMA NY Metro parents meeting last evening (11/18/2016), when pressed extremely hard by a parent who is a Judge about MSCHE saying “SA/SH (particulary at Sea year)”… that… “fine… if MSCHE didn’t say it, it’s true anyway. The decision has been made. We can argue all night, but it doesn’t matter. So he finally admitted MSSCHE never said “SA/SH (particularly at sea year)”… and that it doesn’t matter anyway, because the decision to stand down sea year was made. UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

  3. By admitting this lie, affecting the integrity of the Academy and casting extreme prejudicial doubt on his other public statements, Helis has abdicated any semblance of his moral authority over the Midshipman. Helis should be fired immediately for gross misconduct unbecoming an Officer.


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