The following is the text of a news release from Joel Szabat, executive director of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd):
(WASHINGTON) — On Feb. 15, we announced that Sea Year training for U.S. Merchant Marine Academy midshipmen will resume on three commercial carriers — Crowley Maritime Corp., Maersk Line Ltd. and American President Lines. This followed implementation of comprehensive new requirements for commercial carriers to ensure that the academy’s standards for behavior, leadership and integrity are upheld.
I’m now pleased to announce that last week another commercial carrier, TOTE Services, also has been certified under these strict new federal requirements to be “Sea Year eligible.” The first midshipmen have already begun their training aboard these commercial vessels, and MarAd is reviewing applications from five other companies that have applied to meet the new Sea Year requirements.
Sea Year has been a part of the fabric of USMMA at Kings Point since 1942. Through the decades, midshipmen have participated in peacetime commerce, transported military supplies in every conflict from World War II onward — including operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Inherent Resolve — and have been part of humanitarian missions to Haiti and Somalia.
Sea Year was suspended in June 2016 while MarAd examined ways to ensure that training was conducted in a safe and respectful environment.
Since that time, MarAd, along with the industry and unions, has worked to establish requirements for companies providing Sea Year training opportunities for midshipmen. These requirements include zero tolerance for sexual assault sexual harassment (SASH), vetted mentors, regular crew training and no fraternization between crew and midshipmen. These requirements will be reviewed after six months and annually thereafter.
Sea Year is a collaborative effort between MarAd, USMMA and commercial shippers that demonstrates how a public-private partnership between the government, private industry and labor can strengthen an incredibly important core training component for the academy and its midshipmen.
To ensure the industry has access to training platforms that can be used while at sea, a consortium of maritime industry companies and labor organizations is working with MarAd to develop computer-based training programs and best practices to combat SASH. In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017 requires a working group to report to Congress in September 2017 on efforts to further address SASH prevention and reporting.
For the midshipmen who are assigned to train aboard U.S.-flag merchant vessels, these new standards illustrate that SASH in any form is unacceptable, and that we will do everything to safely train and protect the future leaders of America’s merchant marine.
A full list of requirements is available on MarAd’s website at https://www.marad.dot.gov/criteria/.