In my post explaining (and then criticizing) how MARAD arrived at its calculation for the percentage restoration of sea year, part of my criticism analyzed how few companies were participating in sea year compared to the number of companies participating prior to the
stand down cancellation:
For the classes of 2012 through 2016, when sea year was normal, USMMA trained cadets on 360 commercial vessels operated by 67 companies. As of today, only 9 of those companies, operating only 153 ships, have been approved to participate in sea year. Only 3 additional companies, with a total of 11 ships, are pending. Companies like ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips, Sea Bulk Tankers, Alaska Tankers, National Geographic/Linblad, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Alaska Marine Highways, KeyLakes (Great Lakes), and BG LNG Services – along with 46 other companies – no longer take Academy cadets. Clearly, the quality and opportunities offered by sea year in its current status are not close to what they were prior to the stand down.
Now comes an excellent editorial in the Maritime Executive explaining why so few companies are willing to jump through the hoops that MARAD has established for participating in sea year:
[C]ompanies are demonstrating a reluctance to take midshipmen. The reasons are twofold: resentment towards the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) blanket allegations of rampant sexual assault and harassment aboard commercial ships; and an onerous, complicated process for re-applying to participate in the program.
In reality, shipping companies have strict policies in place to prevent sexual misconduct. During my tenure, midshipmen reported to company ships only after a three-day orientation on policies and procedures, which includes all sexual misconduct policies and reporting processes. If a victim were to report an incident, there would have been an immediate investigation and timely discipline. These standards are equivalent to or exceed those dictated by MARAD to participate in Sea Year.
The obstacle is a complicated approval process that overlooks companies’ robust policies. While these procedures may not word-for-word comport with the MARAD language, they have a strong history of successful application and easily fit within the new requirements laid out by the administration.
The author of the editorial proposes that MARAD recognize that many companies have strong SASH policies in place and be flexible in allowing those companies to use their tried-and-true, existing programs rather than forcing them to have a program in place that matches MARAD’s dictates.
That seems like a sensible solution. If a company has a program that is equivalent to what MARAD is requiring, then it should be permitted to carry Academy midshipmen.
Put another way, do you really think that companies such as Exxon-Mobil don’t have strong SASH policies in place? They’d be sued out of existence if they didn’t. (I chose Exxon-Mobil just because of its sheer size and did not intend to slight other companies by omission. The major U.S. shipping companies had SASH polices prior to former DOT Secretary Foxx, former Maritime Administrator Jaenichin and Superintendent Helis trashed the industry a little over a year ago without even first looking at the existing SASH policies the companies had in place.)
7/14/2017: Updated to correct a typo in the first paragraph.