The new superintendent at the US Merchant Marine Academy will be sworn in on Thursday in what is being touted as a historic moment for women leaders at the US Maritime Administration.
Retired US Coast Guard Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan will take up the post at the academy, also known as USMMA or Kings Point, after the ceremony presided over by maritime administrator Ann Phillips, a retired US Navy rear admiral.
“The appointment of Rear Admiral Nunan marks the beginning of a historic era at USMMA and the Maritime Administration,” MarAd said.
“For the first time in history, the leaders of MarAd and the USMMA will be women. In addition, the newly appointed regimental leader at USMMA — the most senior midshipman — is a woman.”
Nunan retired earlier this year after a 30-plus year career at the Coast Guard, where she served as deputy for personnel readiness and assistant commandant for human resources.
She oversaw recruitment, training, support and retention of guardians and worked on expanding diversity in the Coast Guard while working on policies to retain more women in the force.
She also served as a member of the agency’s Sexual Assault Prevention, Response & Recovery Committee.
A native of Bridgeport, Connecticut, Nunan graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1987. She holds a masters of business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and has three merchant mariner licenses, including master of vessels of not more than 1,600 gt and third mate of vessels of unlimited tonnage.
Over the past 15 months, the USMMA has been dealing with the fallout of sexual assault and misconduct allegations made by students who embark on US-flag merchant ships during their Sea Year onboard training.
The catalyst was an essay posted by Midshipman X — later revealed as academy student Hope Hicks — on the Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy website that detailed her rape at sea by a much older engine department employee.
Nunan takes over for Jack Buono, a 1978 graduate of the federally run Long Island mariner training college, who retired in June.
He held the post from November 2018.