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For anyone who witnessed last week’s ridiculous public back-and-forth between the US Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and the Superintendent’s Office, it was rather shocking, but par for the course when it comes to the drama which has unfolded at the battered federal academy in recent years.
Things really got ugly in 2011 when the DOT Secretary accepted former KP Superintendent, Admiral Phil Greene’s resignation. It was clear from the beginning that this was not a voluntary resignation, but nobody at the DOT said anything substantial about it. Really weird circumstances about what may have happened popped up on the gCaptain forum, along with extremely positive notes about what a great job Admiral Greene was doing.
A cold war quickly ensued between the Alumni Association and the US Maritime Administration.
Last week, the Kings Point Alumni Association sent out a rather one-sided call for action against the Superintendent’s decision to boot the Association off campus. In reality, it was probably one step below a full-on mutiny.
A day later, the Superintendent responded which his side of the story, but both sides have egg dripping from their faces.
Not wanting to take sides in this (for obvious reasons), I figured I’d ask the Superintendent some direct questions to help explain a bit more about the extreme bitterness between his office and the Alumni. Here’s what I asked him:
We received a response today from the Superintendent’s office stating:
We’ve addressed most of your questions regarding the Foundation’s use of the Babson Center and other topics in a message posted on our website. You can see it, along with the initial letter sent the Foundation, here: http://www.usmma.edu/after-
graduation/alumni/usmma- response-alumni-association- foundation
Question six was not addressed and the answer is posted below:
What is the compelling national interest in having a U.S. Merchant Marine?
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy educates and graduates licensed merchant mariners and leaders of exemplary character who serve the nation’s marine transportation and defense needs in peace and war. All midshipmen have a service obligation to the country as well as filling essential roles as leaders across the marine transportation industry, which is vital to our economy and defense needs.
The Academy is one of largest sources of newly licensed mariners each year, and our service obligation requirements are unique and differentiate the federal academy. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy graduates are in high demand in the maritime industry with a near 100 percent placement rate following graduation.
Even well past their obligation period requiring military reservist duty and active sailing on their license, Academy graduates continue to play essential roles as leaders across the marine transportation industry. In addition, every year at least 25% of the graduating class enlists in active service in one of federal armed services.
As anyone can see from his response above, this is not the sort of answer that anyone in Congress would accept as a justification to keep the US Merchant Marine Academy funded. Most, if not all of my other questions were dodged, or flatly ignored.
As I type this, US Merchant Marine Academy Alumni are engaging with Capitol Hill in order to force the issue, and if I were to guess, they will likely get the support they are looking for to get the real answers.
It’s unfortunate that things have come to this, most especially for the cadets who must be viewing this unfolding drama with complete bewilderment.
It’s certainly not fair to them, or in the best interest of the US Merchant Marine.
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