|Motto||Acta Non Verba (Latin)|
Motto in English
|Deeds not Words|
|Type||U.S. Service Academy|
|Superintendent||Rear Admiral Susan Dunlap, USMS (acting)|
|Dean||Rear Admiral John R. Ballard, Ph.D., USMS |
|Commandant of Midshipmen||CAPT Mikel E. Stroud, USMS|
|Campus||Suburban – 82 acres (330,000 m2)|
|Colors||Blue and Gray|
|NCAA Division III – Skyline Conference|
MAISA [NEWMAC] CC MetNy Rugby Football Union
|Mascot||Salty the Sea Eagle|
|Athletics||16 varsity sports teams|
(10 men's and 6 women's)
The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA or Kings Point) is a United States service academy in Kings Point, New York. It trains its midshipmen (as students at the academy are called) to serve as officers in the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the United States Armed Forces and the transportation industry. Midshipmen are trained in different fields such as marine engineering, navigation, ship's administration, maritime law, personnel management, international law, customs, and many other subjects important to the task of running a large ship.
Between 1874 and 1936, diverse federal legislation supported maritime training through school ships, internships at sea, and other methods. A disastrous fire in 1934 aboard the passenger ship SS Morro Castle, in which 134 lives were lost, convinced the U.S. Congress that direct federal involvement in efficient and standardized training was needed.
Originally — and in cooperation with the State of New York, which donated the land — the U.S. government planned to establish a large-scale Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler, New York; nothing came of these plans. Fort Schuyler would later be used as the grounds for SUNY (State University of New York) Maritime.
Congress passed the landmark Merchant Marine Act in 1936, and two years later, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was established. In that year, the USTS Nantucket (ex-USS Ranger) was transferred from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to Kings Point and renamed the USTS Emory Rice. The first training was given at temporary facilities until the academy's permanent site in Kings Point, New York was acquired in early 1942. The Kings Point campus was originally Walter Chrysler's twelve-acre waterfront estate, named "Forker House" (now known as the USMMA's Wiley Hall). Construction of the academy began immediately, and 15 months later the task was virtually completed. The academy was dedicated on 30 September 1943, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who noted "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."
World War II required the academy to forgo its normal operation and to devote all of its resources toward meeting the emergency need for Merchant Marine officers. Its enrollment rose to 2,700 men, and the planned course of instruction was reduced in length from four years to 18 months. To meet the wartime needs for qualified merchant marine officers two additional merchant marine cadet training school sites were established, one located in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and the other in San Mateo, California. (The San Mateo location was closed in September 1947, and the students transferred to Kings Point. The location in Pass Christian was similarly closed in 1950.) In spite of the war, shipboard training continued to be an integral part of the academy curriculum, and midshipmen served at sea in combat zones the world over. One hundred and forty-two midshipmen gave their lives in service to their country, and many others survived torpedo and aerial attacks. From 1942 to 1945, the academy graduated 6,895 officers. As the war drew to a close, plans were made to convert the academy's wartime curriculum to a four-year, college-level program to meet the peacetime requirements of the merchant marine. In 1948, such a course was instituted.
Authorization for awarding the degree of Bachelor of Science to graduates was granted by Congress in 1949. The academy became fully accredited as a degree-granting institution in the same year. It was made a permanent institution by an Act of Congress in 1956. The academy accelerated graduating classes during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was involved in such programs as training U.S. officers for the nuclear-powered merchant ship, the NS Savannah.
Admission requirements were amended in 1974, and this academy became the first federal service academy to enroll female students, two years before the Military, Naval, Air Force, and Coast Guard academies.
During the Persian Gulf War in early 1991, and for many months prior to the war, both academy graduates and midshipmen played important roles in the large sealift of military supplies to the Middle East. Midshipmen training at sea also participated in the humanitarian sealift to Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.
In 1992, the academy acquired its largest campus-based training vessel, the T/V Kings Pointer. After 20 years at the academy, MARAD transferred the ship to the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston to serve as its new primary training vessel. This was followed by an announcement on 21 August 2012, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed to transfer the MV Liberty Star to the U.S. Department of Transportation for use as the new training vessel at the academy. Before being redesigned to serve as a training vessel for students, the former MV Liberty Star served as a solid rocket booster recovery vessel for NASA retrieving solid rocket boosters following space shuttle launches. In June 2014, the vessel was rechristened the T/V Kings Pointer, the fifth vessel of the academy to carry that name. The rechristening followed the earlier dedication of the academy's newly replaced Mallory Pier.
In the 1990s, the academy's future came into question when it was included in the National Performance Review, chaired by Vice President Al Gore. The report recommended halving the federal subsidy and requiring students to pay half of tuition to reduce costs. Congress, however, soundly rejected the recommendation and voted to continue the prohibitions on charging tuition to students.
Between 2009 and 2014, the Obama Administration invested more than $450 million at the academy, including almost $100 million for capital improvements—the most funding ever secured for physical improvements at the academy.
During the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Merchant Marine Academy assisted in the evacuation of civilians from Lower Manhattan as well as the transportation of first responders and supplies to and from Ground Zero. Midshipman, faculty, and staff from the academy, within hours of the attack, were using boats from the waterfront and sending them to the city. Members of the Merchant Marine Academy participated in the relief efforts for nine days.
Merchant Marine Academy midshipmen and graduates have been involved in many facets of the war in Iraq. Many graduates were involved in the transportation of supplies during the buildup to the war in 2003. Many graduates in the U.S. Navy Reserve have been called to active duty to serve supporting naval roles in ports in Iraq and Kuwait. Graduates who have entered other branches of the service have had more direct roles in Iraq. Aaron Seesan, a 2003 graduate and U.S. Army first lieutenant, was the first Academy graduate since the Vietnam War to be killed by enemy action. Since that time, two additional graduates, LTJG Francis L. Toner, IV, USN (class of 2006) and 1st Lt. William N. Donnelly, IV, USMC (class of 2008) have both given their lives while serving their country in Afghanistan.
Because of the service of midshipmen in every major conflict the country has been involved in since World War II, the regiment is privileged to carry a regimental battle standard. The Merchant Marine Academy is the only federal service academy granted the right to do so, and the standard is carried with the colors at all times. Campaign ribbons from all the conflicts in which midshipmen have taken part help to dress the battle standard.
On 19 June 2006, President George W. Bush gave the commencement address at the academy, the first sitting president to visit the academy.
Since 2016 the academy has come under public scrutiny and sharp criticism from lawmakers for alleged sexual assault and harassment within its "Sea Year" program. The program, which places students on commercial vessels, was temporarily suspended in 2016 and again in 2021 for multiple allegations of sexual assault in the program. Following both suspensions, the Department of Transportation and the Maritime Administration implemented new safety standards and reforms.
In addition to requiring strong GPA and SAT/ACT scores, to be eligible to enter the academy a candidate must:
Medical/Physical Clearance – Candidates are required to pass a DoDMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) physical, and take the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) to assess physical fitness.
Security Clearance – In order to receive a commission at graduation as an officer in the U.S. armed forces, candidates are required to complete a security clearance upon enrollment at the academy.
The academy is administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration, and has a budget of $82.3 million (FY20) from the United States Department of Transportation.
The entire student body is referred to as the Regiment of Midshipmen and is subdivided into three battalions and six companies (as of 2017). The 1st and 2nd Companies form the 1st Battalion, the 3rd and Band Companies make up the 2nd Battalion, while the 4th and 5th Company make the 3rd Battalion. Company assignment is random, although candidates with experience of playing a musical instrument are highly considered for joining the Band Company. The United States Merchant Marine Academy Regimental Band serves a dual purpose as both the Academy's Marching Band as well as the official band of the United States Merchant Marine, often playing in official events alongside the other bands of the Armed Forces as well as representing the U.S. Merchant Marine at official events around the country and overseas.
The USMMA Department of Public Safety is a full-service law enforcement agency responsible for campus safety and security. The Academy has mutual-aid agreements with multiple agencies in both Great Neck and Nassau County, including the Kings Point Police Department, Great Neck Alert Fire Department (fire and rescue coverage), Great Neck Vigilant Fire Department (EMS coverage), and the Nassau County Police Department, as well as investigative support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Department Head is assisted by two federal police officers and two federal guards, with contract security guards utilized to meet minimum manning requirements. Federal police officers, federal guards, and contract guards wear distinct uniforms and perform access control, foot and motor patrols, respond to transmitted fire and security alarms, address safety and security matters, direct traffic, and enforce parking and traffic regulations. The police officers have full arrest authority under federal law (Title 40 United States Code Section 1315), and may also issue federal and New York state summonses, protect persons and property, prevent breaches of the peace, and enforce rules and regulations for the protection of property at the academy. The guards have no arrest authority other than that of an ordinary citizen.
Admitted appointees enter as "candidates" in early July, and begin a two-and-a-half-week indoctrination period, or "indoc", run by upperclass instructors and supervised by United States Maritime Service officers of the Commandant of Midshipman's staff. It is a high-stress, intensive introduction to regimental life at the academy including physical training, history, customs and courtesies, and drill and ceremony. After indoc, the candidates earn the title of "plebe candidates". The academic year begins in late July, and on Acceptance Day in September, plebe candidates are sworn into the U.S. Navy Reserve and join the regiment as plebes. As plebes they are subject to stringent rules that govern daily life until the following spring, when they are recognized as midshipmen, fourth class, with eased restrictions and additional privileges.
The following academic programs (Bachelor of Science 4-year degree programs) are offered at USMMA:
These five majors can be grouped as follows:
For portions of their sophomore (third-class) and junior (second-class) years, midshipmen serve as cadets on U.S. merchant ships. Midshipmen are typically assigned as pairs to a ship, an engineering cadet and a deck cadet, and operate as part of the crew, gaining hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to travel abroad to foreign ports; the average midshipman travels to eighteen countries during the three-hundred-day training period. This practical training results in an extended academic year that runs from late July to mid-June.
A note on titles - Are they called "midshipmen" or "cadets"? The title "midshipman" is a naval rank and refers to the four classes (or grades) of student at the Academy. Midshipmen 4th Class are freshmen, 3rd Class are sophomores, etc. The title "cadet" refers to a student officer/apprentice billet on a merchant ship in either the Deck or Engineering Departments. To place this in context - "Midshipman 2nd Class Smith is sailing as Engine Cadet on the USNS MERCY for the next two months."
Toward the end of 1st class (senior) year, midshipmen prepare for U.S. Coast Guard exams for a mandatory license as Third Assistant Engineer (steam and motor unlimited HP) or Third Mate (any gross tons, oceans).
Main article: Merchant Marine Mariners
The USMMA Mariners compete in Division III of the NCAA, as a member of the Skyline Conference in all sports (men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, and track & field; women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, swimming & diving, track & field, and volleyball) except in football, where they are an associate member of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, and collegiate wrestling, where they are a member of the Centennial Conference. The USMMA was a member of the Skyline Conference until the 2006–07 season; the USMMA returned to the Skyline Conference for the 2016–17 academic year. The academy was also a charter member in the Landmark Conference from 2007 until 2016.
The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which can be bestowed upon members of the United States Merchant Marine and is the service's equivalent of the Medal of Honor. Since mariners serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine are not directly employed by the Department of Defense, they are not eligible for the Medal of Honor.
Since USMMA opened in 1943, eight midshipmen have been awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal.
Midshipmen at Kings Point have a wide variety of options upon graduation. Unlike the nation's other federal service academies, graduates of USMMA are required to fulfill their service obligation on their own by providing annual proof of employment in a wide variety of occupations as approved by MARAD for a specified period of time.
Graduates may elect to fulfill their service obligation by working as licensed officers on U.S.-flagged merchant vessels, as civilians in the maritime industry, or as active duty officers in any branch of the military or the uniformed services of the United States, including Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Regardless, graduates are required to maintain their U.S. Coast Guard-issued merchant marine officer's license for a period of at least 6 years.
Those graduates electing to enter the civilian work force in the maritime industry, and those sailing in the Merchant Marine, are also required to maintain their Navy Reserve commission (or another reserve component commission in the Army National Guard or Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air Force National Guard or Reserve, or Coast Guard Reserve) for a period of at least 8 years after their commissioning as officers, and are required to serve in the maritime industry for at least 5 years following graduation.
A graduate from USMMA receives upon graduation:
The USMMA in Kings Point, New York is the home of the American Merchant Marine Museum. The museum houses:
Among the museum's many items are the world's largest collection of navigation and nautical instruments, and the only extensive selection of ship's china, on display anywhere in the world. In addition, one of the five surrender swords presented by the Japanese to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur at the conclusion of World War II is housed there.
Images from the museum and from the academy can be seen at the Photographic Catalog of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy website.
Above right is the academy photograph of Rear Admiral Richard Robert McNulty. As commodore of the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps of the U.S. Maritime Commission from 1938 to 1948 and for decades prior, he advocated for creation of the academy. The USMMA community considers McNulty to be the academy's "father". He was the academy's third superintendent. The letter appearing right is from the academy's early history and accompanied the photograph. The letter from the United States Merchant Marine Academy explains how, as the academy's third superintendent, Rear Admiral McNulty, strongly supported cadet sports, especially, baseball. The Academic Dean, Dr. Shashi Kumar, Master Mariner served as acting superintendent between Admirals Worley and Greene and again between Greene and Helis.
In accordance with 46 USC § 51312, The Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy provides independent advice and recommendations on matters relating to the United States Merchant Marine Academy to the President of the United States and the United States Congress. The 19-member board is composed of members of Congress, academy alumni, and stakeholders from the federal government and the maritime industry. Specifically:
The board is required to meet at least quarterly, in accordance with their charter, including at least 1 meeting held at the academy on a date selected by the board in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Superintendent of the academy. However, board members, in cooperation with the Superintendent, may make other visits to the academy in connection with the duties of the board. While visiting the academy under this subsection, members of the board shall have reasonable access to the grounds, facilities, midshipmen, faculty, staff, and other personnel of the academy for the purpose of carrying out the duties of the board.
The board shall inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, and academic methods of the academy, and other matters relating to the academy that the board decides to consider.
Not later than 60 days after each annual visit to the academy, the board shall submit to the President of the United States, a written report of its actions, views, and recommendations pertaining to the academy. If the members of the board make other visits to the academy, the board may prepare a report on such visit; and if approved by a majority of the members of the board, submit such report to the President not later than 60 days after the date of the approval. Any report submitted to the President will be concurrently submitted to the Secretary of Transportation, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives.
(Pub. L. 109–304, §8(b), 6 Oct. 2006, 120 Stat. 1575; Pub. L. 113–291, div. C, title XXXV, §3504(a), 19 Dec. 2014, 128 Stat. 3905.)
^ While "cadet" and "midshipman" are frequently used interchangeably to refer to students at USMMA, to do so is incorrect. The terms serve two different purposes—the term "midshipman" refers to a military rank, whereas the term "cadet" refers to a job description, much the same way the term "captain" is used for any officer in command of a ship regardless of actual rank. Examples: Midshipman Smith is the deck cadet on the SS Kauai, Midshipman Jones is the engine cadet.
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Upon taking the Oath of Office in the Navy Reserve, a midshipman is sworn into the armed forces on that date, and serves pursuant to U.S. law and Department of Defense regulations pertaining to midshipmen, including status in the Individual Ready Reserve and potentially subject to the Uniformed Code of Military Justice or mobilization to active duty in the event of a national emergency or war.