More than 1,600 cadets graduate from US maritime academies

The following is text of a news release from the American Maritime Partnership (AMP):

(WASHINGTON) — The American Maritime Partnership, the voice of the domestic maritime industry, congratulates the more than 1,600 young men and women graduating from the seven U.S. maritime academies this year, applauding them for their dedication and commitment to pursuing a career that supports the U.S. economy and our nation both in times of peace and war. Retirements in the work force have led to a shortage of mariners, making this and future classes of cadets all the more important for national security.

“The U.S. merchant marine has never been more vital to our nation’s national security and economic prosperity. As a seafaring nation with hundreds of seaports large and small, and thousands of miles of marine highways, canals and waterways, we are grateful for this next generation of licensed mariners to operate and command America’s commercial and military sealift ships,” said Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, maritime administrator. “If we are to continue as the No. 1 economy in the world, with the most capable and logistically agile military, we must continue to invest in the maritime industry, and that starts at USMMA and our state maritime academies with the young men and women who are training to become mariners.”

While speaking at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy commencement ceremony last weekend, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis reinforced the importance of the U.S. merchant marine to national defense: “You’re going to bind the muscles of American commerce and that’s a simple reality because as small as our merchant marine may be today, it is absolutely essential. It’s in every war plan that I review … you’re going to be the fourth arm of defense. You’re going to sustain our allies and fuel our ships and ferry our warriors. It’s as simple as that, and we’re going to need you as we see the storm clouds gather elsewhere as our diplomats are in a position where we have to buy time for them to solve problems.”

“American mariners serve a critical role by supporting our nation’s commercial transportation needs, which in turn is essential for the United States to maintain the infrastructure and manpower needed for defense and humanitarian missions,” said Matt Woodruff, chairman of the American Maritime Partnership. “On behalf of the entire domestic maritime industry, we congratulate the American maritime academy graduates and welcome our new shipmates into this fulfilling and vitally important career path.”

These graduates hail from the seven maritime academies in the United States: the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, N.Y.), State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College (Fort Schuyler, N.Y.), California Maritime Academy (Vallejo, Calif.), Great Lakes Maritime Academy (Traverse City, Mich.), Maine Maritime Academy (Castine, Maine), Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Buzzards Bay, Mass.), and Texas A&M Maritime Academy (Galveston, Texas).

Many graduates will sail on vessels in the domestic fleet, which includes over 40,000 self-propelled vessels, tugs and barges. They will be joining the nearly 500,000 private U.S. citizens employed through the domestic maritime industry stemming from a variety of career paths, including employees who are military veterans and those who have “climbed the hawsepipe” and advanced through the ranks.

The U.S. domestic fleet moves nearly 1 billion tons of cargo between U.S. ports each year, or roughly a quarter of the nation’s freight. These skilled U.S. citizen merchant mariners also boost national security by supporting the U.S. military during times of war and national crisis by providing manning for military and commercial sealift vessels. Some militarily useful vessels in the domestic fleet can be transitioned directly to military service when needed. In times of crisis, U.S.-flag government and commercial vessels, crewed by U.S. civilian mariners, transport supplies to U.S. troops and relief and war zones.

The majority of graduates from these seven maritime academies enter the work force as licensed deck or engineering officers. The new graduates are welcomed into an industry that is proud to provide a lifelong career path with good-paying jobs, mobility and advancement. Additionally, a number of graduates will choose to protect our nation as members of all branches of the military, including the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.

In order to sail as merchant marine officers, graduates are required to pass the extensive U.S. Coast Guard exam, which covers days of testing and requires encyclopedic knowledge of the career path chosen. For that reason, maritime academy cadets supplement their classroom instruction with significant time on either training ships operated by their schools or aboard actual commercial vessels. Following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, several U.S. maritime academies dispatched their training vessels, which are part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, to Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico to assist with relief and recovery operations.

By Professional Mariner Staff