WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 66 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
Even as the number of U.S.-flag merchant ships has dropped precipitously since the end of World War II, the demand for highly trained
mariners remains strong. Managing ports, formulating
policy and keeping in step with technical innovations
each require a strong skill set that comes only from
the right combination of classroom and hands-on
As such, even though U.S. ships now haul only 2
percent of the world’s tonnage across the oceans — as
opposed to 25 percent in 1955 — the shipping industry and its adjunct companies and organizations are
eager to hire graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine
Academy and the nation’s six maritime academies.
Still, the schools — located in five states along the
three coasts and the Great Lakes — face significant
challenges. The maritime industry is heavily regulated
by U.S. and international laws, policies and treaties.
The Coast Guard and the U.S. Maritime Administration
are the lead U.S. agencies responsible for passing along
such guidelines. The Coast Guard conducts audits of
each school every five years to ensure they comply
with established standards.
Those requirements change constantly, and the
institutions must adapt their curricula accordingly —
and pass along any related expenses to their midshipmen and cadets.
Factor in the challenges posed
to international shipping by hot-button issues such as terrorism and
piracy, and their mission becomes
U.S. Merchant Marine
The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., has a
tradition of taking an active role
in determining maritime policies.
Representatives of the school are
regular participants in stateside and international meetings. Any changes adapted from the results of those gatherings is quickly assimilated into the school’s curriculum.
“Our midshipmen become exceptionally well-trained leaders in seashore and maritime operations,
and security as well,” said Capt. Jon S. Helmick, U.S.
Maritime Service (USMS), the director of the Maritime
Logistics and Security Program at Kings Point.
The school’s instructional path regarding security
issues increased after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Its
logistics program, for example, heightened emphasis on
container security, and routinely conducts a maritime-security research seminar. Students there must tackle
practical projects given to them from organizations such
as the FBI, Coast Guard, and the Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey.
“All midshipmen here on the deck side of the
house receive anti-piracy, maritime security and anti-terrorism training during a course called Bridge
Resource Management,” Helmick said.
Like the other maritime academies, Kings Point
offers two curriculum paths. The deck side emphasizes
ship and cargo handling and navigation. The engine
department focuses on propulsion and hydraulic systems training.
A Maritime Education
Academies face funding challenges as regulations, guidelines change
By NICK ADDE, Special Correspondent
The United States has seven colleges and universities focused on
training midshipmen and cadets for maritime occupations.
n All of the schools emphasize either deck or engineering career
n Security and safety instruction has increased since 9/11 and
the 2009 hijacking of Maersk Alabama.
n With limited funding, curricula changes come with a cost that is
borne by the students.