Yesterday’s hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security

[Updated with a direct link to the video of the testimony instead of taking you to the web page where the video could be found.]

Yesterday Superintendent Helis and Acting Maritime Administrator Szabat gave testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security.  A direct link to video of the testimony is available here.

Helis’ prepared testimony can be directly accessed here.

Szabat’s prepared testimony can be directly accessed here.

Hope to post analysis later, but clients call . . .   I specifically plan to address this statement by Szabat:

“Collectively, the companies that have been approved, or are applying, represent 84 percent of the commercial Sea Year training provided before the suspension.”

Suffice it to say for now that the 84 percent number is a red herring.  The actual number of billets presently available to KP midshipmen for sea year remains unacceptably low and does not come close to approaching 84 percent.


  1. I read a recent letter from the Captain of a USN ship who witnessed KP Midshipmen on board Navy vessels. He was over the top on his compliments. However on a naval vessel a cadet does not learn cargo operations or standing a watch with 2 other people rather than dozens on a Navy ship. I am mostly interested at this point in the accreditation situation.

  2. In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan “there you go again. May I direct all of you to Helis’ testimony as provided above where he again claims that SASH at sea was a problem pointed out in the Middle States Report. He himself has acknowledged that that is not what the report says, but he can’t help himself because if he’s not talking about SASH, which he can blame on the mids and on the industry, he has to be talking about his poor management, which is the heart of the Middle States report. As I always say “PLEASE READ THE REPORT’.

    I will, in the interest of fairness, point out that the Middle States cover letter, not the report itself, talks about the need for increasing “mutual trust and respect on campus and at sea”, but that is as close as it gets to identifying a SASH at sea problem.

    And before people berate me, please know that I have no tolerance for SASH anywhere and I am not so naïve to think that it doesn’t happen, either on campus or at sea, regardless of what the Middle States report says. I also acknowledge the unique nature of SASH taking place on a ship in the middle of the ocean. But I also think, as has been demonstrated many times on this blog, that the numbers are inaccurate due to how the surveys were taken and that, as a result, the incidence of SASH at sea is highly overstated.
    That said, I still think the sea year stand down was a diversion that the administration knew would suck up all the bad press and thus avoid any real discussion of the many poor management issues actually discussed in the Middle States report. Helis’ knowing and continued misrepresentation of the report to congress and to the press only confirms that belief. Smart politics… maybe, but stupid policy because all the stand down accomplished was to prevent more women from going to sea on commercial ships.
    Instead of seeing more SASH commentary from the administration, what I really want at this point is to see unredacted reports on how they are going to solve all the management problems that represent the real threat to the school.

  3. On the issue of MSCHE’s warning, I note that Helis’ prepared testimony spends five of its six pages dealing with SASH, leaving the last paragraph of the last page to the accreditation problem. Of that paragraph, there are three “solutions’, one of which is the Academy’s new “governing board”. As I noted in another post, this “governing board” is 1) entirely made up of MARAD non-appointed bureaucrats with absolutely no outside stakeholder representation, 2) has just one alumnus and 3) has absolutely no real power or authority with which to “govern” either the Academy or its Superintendent. The other solutions are more “feel good” generalities without any specificity.

  4. In answer to MKPGA’s question, I would submit the immortal words of Gilbert and Sullivan from HMS PINAFORE:

    Stick close to your desks and never go to sea
    And you all may be Rulers of the Queen’s Navy

  5. Helis’s opening remarks state “active or reserve component”. Is it actually possible to receive an Active commission from Kings Point? However, my understanding is that all the commission sources are reserve commissions. There are those who go to serve active duty, but it is a reserve commission which an officer may then later integrate into the active component. Thus, a member of the reserve component even when serving active duty is still a member of the reserve component.

    • Two of our family graduates went into immediate active duty Coast Guard directly after graduation. At least 25% of graduates choose active duty after graduation in all branches of the service.

      • Correct. However, they are holding a Coast Guard RESERVE commission and usually executing a Voluntary Extended Active Duty Contract. Reserve members who serve active duty are still members of the “Reserve Component” CGR Officers usually then “integrate” into the “Active Component” at LT around 5 years of service, thus they then switch from USCGR to USCG.

        Choosing to serve active duty is different than receiving an “Active Component” commission as Helis stated.

        It is also worth noting that he also stated, “All graduating Midshipmen…” however, not all graduates receive an offer of a commission. There are cases of those who are medically qualified for the license, but not to serve in the armed forces. Also, foreign nationals who are member of the “Regiment of Midshipmen” don’t receive a commission.

  6. This has already been proven to be a lie that MARAD and DOT have accepted. Add the “inside the beltway belief” that all the government employees believe and stroke each other, and guess what? The USMMA loses as do the Mids.

    Where are all the connections that people claim to have, when will people bring the army of alumni and interested officials to put an end to this madness ?

    We are in a street fight folks and we are going there with a dictionary and kindness. They dont care for they are executing the master plan that was initiated under the other two dopes at MARAD.

    Where is Sec Chao, and where are the people who should be advocating for the Mids? Where are the entities that are suppose to fight for the academy and the Mids?

    Make the fight about Helis and his leadership, his lies and his inability to lead and govern a US Federal Service Academy. Leaders, rise or get out of the way!!!!

  7. In answer to MKPGA’s question, perhaps, YOUR FIRED, YOU INCOMPETENT NINNY? Gilligan on a three hour cruise? Lt. Cmdr Queeg looking for his strawberries? Col. Klink looking for Hogan’s tunnels and wireless?

  8. To answer Mr. An Observer: The system changed back around 2003 or 4. “Back in the day,” only those graduating from Annapolis, West Point, Colorado Springs and Coast Guard Academy received Regular commissions.
    That is no longer the case. In the DOD services newly minted officers, whatever their commissioning source are taken directly into their respective services as regular officers. They no longer have to “integrate.” I have no current information on the Coast Guard but suspect it is the same.
    Ironically, the system has been reversed. An officer leaving the active duty now may request duty in the reserve component.

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