Page 12: of Maritime Reporter Magazine (July 2016)

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Apocalypse Now …

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Abruptly Cancels Sea Term

JOSEPH KEEFE have followed the ongoing drama rassment, but an effort to ensure the Sea to tell Marad where they could take their to correct. Not to mention the teaching at the nation’s only federal mari- Year is an appropriate training and work requests for ship billets in the future. schedules on campus. Maybe MARAD time academy for some time and environment for the Midshipmen.” That’s because any time the issue(s) of is angling to shut down the place. This

I covered those events closely within The one common denominator that I sexual harassment, student safety and could do it.” I found the idea that cadet my publications over the past 10 years or hear from most parties is that “the tim- even assaults enter any discussion, the shipping being equated to “unsupervised so. Even so, I must admit that I was tak- ing of such a move is curious.” Indeed. implication of risk for all players in- training” to be a novel point of view, es- en aback when I read that the U.S. Mari- Why now and why not six months ago? volved – including the shippers them- pecially given my experiences as a cadet time Administration had cancelled the That’s the $60,000 question. As Marad selves – becomes very real. And, if there and the time-honored tenet that cadets sea term for an entire section of Kings plans a June 24th ‘Call-to-Action’ with is one thing a domestic, Jones Act ship who shipped out on merchant vessels get

Point midshipmen, just days before these the maritime industry to address among operator doesn’t need, well; that’s an- a better education than those who go out future mariners were about to be sent out other things, the safety of Kings Point other legal issue. on the state maritime academy training to sea. students, they also say that they have Commercial shipping involves a cer- ships. begun to develop a comprehensive plan tain amount of risk. Operators spend That’s exactly what they told us in the

Standing Down that protects the Midshipmen. At the much of their waking hours trying to late 1970’s: Don’t you know that those

In a prepared statement, the DOT’s same time, they insist that ‘every effort’ limit or mitigate risk. Better yet, com- Kings Point kids were going to come out maritime arm said simply, “While the is being made to ensure an on-time grad- pletely eliminating risk is an even more ahead of us when we graduated in 1980.

Department of Transportation (DOT), uation for affected students. desirable outcome. Off the top of my At Mass. Maritime, there were limited the Maritime Administration (MARAD), Another USMMA note advises, “Mid- head, I can think of one way to elimi- cadet berths on real merchant ships back and the United States Merchant Marine shipmen go out to Sea Year in waves and nate one piece of risk from this equation then. We got what Kings Point didn’t

Academy (USMMA) have made con- the ? rst group of 33 from the Class of altogether. use (and those we could get to before sistent efforts to address sexual assault 2019 were scheduled to depart by June The Marad / USMMA decision by de- the other state schools could snap them and sexual harassment on campus over 25. These students will remain on cam- fault paints the entire domestic shipping up). And, they were coveted assign- the last few years, we’ve grappled with pus until the resumption of Sea Year ac- industry with a broad stroke; and not a ments. MMA doled them out strictly as a appropriate means of extending these tivities. Midshipmen currently at sea will very ? attering one, at that. It questions function of (a.) grade point average and efforts during “Sea Year” when the disembark when they reach their next the quality of training given to cadets; it (b.) disciplinary records. I made the list

Midshipmen are off campus training port, and return to their homes to com- questions the collective safety of these for my senior sea term only when two on working U.S. merchant marine ves- plete their sea year project. The Acad- students and it re? ects a lack of trust in deck cadets ahead of me were abruptly sels. The safety of these young women emy will bear the travel costs.” the professionals who currently sail in a dropped from the roster because of Cap- and men are our highest priority, and the Since that time, MarPro has been ad- licensed mode aboard U.S. ? ag tonnage. tain’s Mast infractions. I jumped at the

USMMA is standing down having Mid- vised that not all students are being re- It also calls into question the future of unexpected opportunity. That summer shipmen serve on these vessels until it is called from all merchant vessels. If true, this training routine, something that has on a West Coast VLCC running back assured that their training will be carried then apparently, some midshipmen are been a staple of countless future Ameri- and forth to Valdez, AK was a wonder- out in a safe environment.” in danger on certain vessels, while oth- can mariners for more than a half centu- ful experience. But now, I’m being told

I next reached out to the U.S. Mari- ers are deemed safe. And Marad itself ry. To be fair, Marad isn’t the only entity that maybe this is no longer a good idea. time Administration itself for comment con? rmed that some students will re- that’s concerned. Go ? gure.

on the decision to suspend sea training. main in place, despite the “stand down.” “… the USMMA is standing down from

I received in return, a prepared state- It doesn’t seem to me that you can have Rethinking Cadet Training? having Midshipmen serve on vessels as ment attributed to Marad Chief Chip it both ways: they’re either all safe, or From yet another industry stakeholder, part of Sea Year training until adequate

Jaenichen, who said, “There is no spe- nobody’s safe. I got the following advice: “Exclusively measures are instituted that ensure they ci? c incident prompting this action. unsupervised training has been a bad can work and train in an environment

Sea Year is a unique situation for these A Broad Stroke idea from its inception. Perhaps USM- that is both safe and respectful … Effec- young men and women, and we believe The June 24 ‘Call to Action’ also prom- MA is straining to get leverage for op- tive learning can only take place when there continues to be a need to address ises to be an interesting event. It could erating their own training ship. The big- men and women feel safe and secure in the culture onboard vessels to better en- also be rancorous. If I’m a U.S. shipping gest impediment to effective education a supportive environment.” That’s what sure Midshipmen are in an environment company executive and I’m not on the and training there has been MARAD. Marad believes. I certainly agree with that is both safe and respectful. This is short list of U.S. ? ag vessel operators Nonetheless, the disturbance to those ca- the last part. That said; I don’t think there not just about Sexual Assault/Sexual Ha- taking a subsidy, I think I’d be tempted dets on board vessels will be very hard is any way to ensure that everyone is 12 Maritime Reporter & Engineering News • JULY 2016

MR #7 (10-17).indd 12 7/6/2016 9:46:19 AM

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