- Posted October 2, 2013 by
Kings Point, New York
US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) SHUTDOWN
While national news has reported on the effects of the government shutdown on US service academies (mainly focusing on the cancellation of service academy football games), reports have failed to mention the fact that the US Merchant Marine Academy is currently COMPLETELY shut down, including ALL academic operations.
Congress passed a bill Monday night to ensure that members of the military continued to be paid, however USMMA is not covered under this provision. Unlike the other 4 service academies, which are funded by the military, USMMA is funded by the Department of Transportation, which means that all USMMA operations (except basic Life and Safety) have been completely halted due to the government shutdown. This means that no classes have been held since Monday. If the shutdown persists 1 week, all midshipmen will be sent home. While other academies have been forced to cancel a portion of their classes due to civilian staff furloughs, they are nowhere near sending students home due to a lack of funding. It was originally feared that the 200+ midshipmen currently at sea completing their sea terms (300 days on a working ship is a graduation requirement at the academy) would remain at sea under a shutdown, and it was only Wednesday evening that the academy was able to secure funding to allow them to travel home. The following two articles detail the impact of the shutdown on the USMMA and other service academies: (1) http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/government-shutdown-military-academies-97677.html (2) http://www.buzzfeed.com/ellievhall/us-service-academies-prepare-for-government-shutdown?s=mobile
Due to the academy's year-round academic schedule, it will be extremely difficult to make up lost days of classes, which could damage the schools accreditation, according to Meghan Keck, Director of Public Affairs at the DOT. Please see the following links for more information: http://greatneck.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/government-shutdown-closes-usmma. http://marinelog.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4722:government-shut-down-closes-kings-point&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=195
USMMA graduates are essential to our economy, the worldwide shipping industry, military operations, and national security. Midshipmen are trained in 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.
All students at USMMA have been sworn in as Naval Reserve Midshipmen. Graduates of the academy have participated in every war and conflict since World War II, however midshipmen have been called to action as students as well. Uniquely, USMMA is the only academy whose students can be (and have been) involved in combat before graduating. According to the USMMA alumni foundation website, "During times of war, members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard engage in combat, but the students at their respective service academies do not. However, the students of the USMMA receive an integral part of their training at sea, and in the Second World War often found their lives in peril as they sailed through enemy-controlled waters or unloaded precious cargo in overseas combat areas. In all, 142 such cadet/midshipmen never returned to home port." In 2001, within hours of the 9/11 attacks, midshipmen, faculty and staff from the academy were using boats from the waterfront to assist in the evacuation of civilians as well as the transportation of first responders and supplies to Ground Zero, and continued to do so for 9 days. Currently, many students are serving their sea terms on military ships, delivering supplies to our troops overseas.
While congress continues to debate over controversial funding issues, it is clear that this situation needs to be resolved regardless of political affiliation or agenda. Since the offices of many representatives are closed due to the shutdown, this issue needs to be addressed in the media. It appears that this service academy has slipped through the cracks of the bill passed Monday night, and it needs to be brought to the public's attention.