USMMA suspends Sea Year training program

The following is a statement from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy:

(KINGS POINT, N.Y.) (June 16) — While the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Maritime Administration (MarAd), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) have made consistent efforts to address sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus over the last few years, we’ve grappled with appropriate means of extending these efforts during “Sea Year” when the midshipmen are off campus training on working U.S. merchant marine vessels. The safety of these young women and men are our highest priority, and the USMMA is standing down having midshipmen serve on these vessels until it is assured that their training will be carried out in a safe environment.

On June 24, MarAd is convening a call to action with the maritime industry to address these issues, as well as their overall safety, as we begin to develop a comprehensive plan that protects the midshipmen.

We are making every effort to ensure an on-time graduation for any affected students.

The following is a statement from MarAd spokeswoman Kim Strong:

"There is no specific incident prompting this action. The annual reports to Congress on sexual assault and sexual harassment submitted by the USMMA have shown the aggressive steps taken to address the matter on campus. Sea Year is a unique situation for these young men and women, and we believe there continues to be a need to address the culture onboard vessels to better ensure midshipmen are in an environment that is both safe and respectful. This is not just about sexual assault/sexual harassment, but an effort to ensure the Sea Year is an appropriate training and work environment for the midshipmen.

"The federal government shutdown a few years ago, which lasted 20 days, delayed the start of some midshipman Sea Year training. While the delay created challenges, midshipmen affected by the shutdown completed their required sea time and were able to graduate on time."

By Professional Mariner Staff