USMMA Canceling ‘Sea Year’ Over Sexual Assault and Harassment Fears?

One of the great benefits of attending the US Merchant Marine Academy is the experience of going out to sea on US-Flag merchant ships. This is called ‘Sea Year’.

While the state schools primarily rely on school ships, USMMA Midshipmen are sent, generally two at a time, to commercial vessels trading around the world. That is until now — if the following information released by the USMMA Alumni Association is to be believed:

Please see the following announcement from the Academy concerning Sea Year:

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 24th, 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.

More information to follow as details become available.

gCaptain Update: USMMA spokesman, Benjamin Benson, Director of External Affairs, provided the following statement to gCaptain, assuring there was no specific incident that prompted the decision:

“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,” Benson wrote in an email.

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