The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA):
(KINGS POINT, N.Y.) — The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point graduated 227 new Merchant Marine and military officers as part of its Class of 2015 commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker, Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen, gave the commencement address before a crowd of more than 2,200 including graduates, family members and representatives from the federal government, U.S. military and maritime industry.
“You have the Maritime Administration’s gratitude for the sworn oaths you will soon make and for the responsibilities you have prepared yourselves to accept,” said Jaenichen. “You have been provided the basics here, and a torch of leadership is being handed to you today.”
Each congressionally-nominated graduate received a bachelor of science degree and an unlimited merchant marine officer license from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and an officer’s commission in the U.S. Navy or other branch of the military. In exchange for their education each has the option of serving as a Merchant Marine officer while concurrently serving in any branch of the U.S. military in the reserves, or serving five years of active duty. USMMA graduates ensure a steady stream of Merchant Marine officers who support the nation’s economic and security requirements in times of peace and war.
This year’s graduates represent 39 states, the District of Columbia and the three foreign countries: Republic of Korea, Republic of Panama and Malaysia.
“For over 70 years, the academy has developed outstanding leaders who serve in the Merchant Marine, military and their communities,” said superintendent Rear Adm. James A. Helis. “I am especially proud of these new officers, who join the ranks of Kings Pointers currently serving all around the globe.”
As part of the commencement exercises, 42 graduates were sworn in as active-duty officers in the Navy, USCG, Army and Air Force. Two graduates will be sworn in as Marines at a later date. One graduate was sworn into the Army Reserves and another in the Air Force Reserves. The remaining graduates will serve as Navy reservists in the Strategic Sealift Officer Program while working aboard deep sea vessels, offshore supply vessels, tugs, towing vessels, and international flag vessels. Additionally, nine will enter federal maritime service ashore, with the remaining graduates making their final decisions.