Maersk fires captain, four crewmembers on ‘Midshipman X’ ro-ro

(NORFOLK, Va.) — The captain and four engineering crewmembers aboard the vessel where the female U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) cadet known as “Midshipman X” served during Sea Year training have been fired.

Maersk Line Ltd. (MLL) confirmed this week that the captain of the U.S.-flagged vehicle carrier Alliance Fairfax was fired for violating the company’s “no tolerance” policy on alcohol use by the crew.

The vehicle carrier Alliance Fairfax is shown in Veracruz, Mexico, in March 2021. Sergii Nor/ photo

The chief engineer and third assistant engineer were fired for the same reason, according to an MLL spokesman.

The first and second assistant engineers were fired for failing to cooperate with an internal investigation into the rape allegation made last fall by Hope Hicks, who wrote under the moniker Midshipman X.

In a graphic and detailed online post, Hicks said the first assistant engineer on Alliance Fairfax plied her with alcohol then raped her in her cabin while sailing in the Middle East in 2019. She suffered ongoing harassment from the man during the remainder of her time on the ship, according to the post.

Hicks repeated the allegation in greater detail in a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Nassau County, N.Y., against MLL. The suit alleges, among other things, that the shipper failed to protect female USMMA cadets during their mandatory Sea Year training.

A second female USMMA cadet using the name “Midshipman Y” has filed a lawsuit alleging extreme sexual harassment, persistent groping and discrimination on the same ship two years after Hicks’ ordeal. Both women are seeking jury trials.

In a prepared statement, MLL reiterated its “zero tolerance” policies for assault, harassment and any form of discrimination on its ships.

“We take all allegations of assault or harassment very seriously, and we remain committed to ensuring that the shipboard environment is safe, supportive and welcoming to all,” the company said. “As communicated to the entire Maersk and Maersk Line Ltd. fleet, we will not tolerate any breach of our policies regarding the fair treatment of all personnel.”

Maersk has not identified the personnel aboard Alliance Fairfax who were fired, and they are not named in either lawsuit. It is not clear when the company fired them.

– Casey Conley

By Rich Miller