USMMA Resumes Commercial Sea Year
On Feb. 15, we announced that Sea Year training for USMMA Midshipmen will resume on three commercial carriers; Crowley Maritime Corporation, Maersk Line Limited, and American President Line (APL). 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, has also 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 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.
It was suspended in June 2016 while the Maritime Administration (MARAD), industry and labor 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. The criteria includes zero tolerance for sexual assault sexual harassment, vetted mentors, regular crew training and strict reporting procedures. These requirements will ensure that crewmembers clearly understand what constitutes sexual assault and sexual harassment, its negative impact, the importance of prevention, and the severe penalties for engaging in prohibited behavior or for failing to report an incident. Companies will also actively support the USMMA Sea Year Conduct policy for Midshipmen which prohibits fraternization between crew and Midshipmen, and the consumption of alcohol by Midshipmen under 21 years of age. The new requirements will be reviewed after six months, and annually thereafter.
This collaborative effort between MARAD, the USMMA, and commercial shippers 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 that 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 sexual assault and sexual harassment. 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 sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and reporting.
For the Midshipmen who are assigned to train aboard U.S. - flag merchant vessels, these new standards illustrate that sexual assault and sexual harassment 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/.