USMMA restarts sea year for midshipmen

At-sea training resumes after allegations of harassment against female cadets.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) will restart sea year training for midshipmen next month as the Academy promises stricter oversight of sexual harassment claims.

USMMA said the resumption of at-sea training on commercial carriers "follows the implementation of comprehensive new policies, including a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault and sexual harassment to ensure that the Academy’s standards for behavior, leadership and integrity are upheld."   

“I commend the maritime industry’s efforts to combat sexual assault, sexual harassment and other coercive behaviors,” said Maritime Administration (Marad) executive director Joel Szabat. 

Last June, then-US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx suspended sea year while Marad, industry and labour examined ways to ensure that training was conducted in a safe and respectful environment.

The new requirements are zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment, vetted mentors, regular crew training, and no fraternization between crew and Midshipmen.  These requirements will be reviewed after six months, and annually thereafter.

Crowley Maritime, Maersk Line, and American Presidents Line, comprised half of the Academy’s commercial sea year program before it was suspended. Szabat says the operators will also have to meet the new requirements. Marad is reviewing applications from other companies that have applied to meet the sea year requirements.