KINGS POINT, N.Y., June 21, 2014 - The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point graduated 225 new Merchant Marine and Military Officers as part of its Class of 2014 commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker, Vice Admiral Michelle J. Howard, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, gave the commencement address before a crowd of more than 2,300 including special guest Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor M. Mendez, graduates, family members and representatives from the federal government, U.S. military and maritime industry.
“These young men and women have worked hard in the classroom and at sea – and are now ready to assume positions of leadership in every branch of the U.S. military,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Mendez. “I congratulate them on their accomplishments and thank them for their commitment to service and excellence.”
Each congressionally-nominated graduate received a Bachelor of Science Degree and an unlimited merchant marine officer license from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), and an Officer’s Commission in the U.S. Navy or other branch of the military. In exchange for their education each has the option of serving as a Merchant Marine Officer while concurrently serving in any branch of the U.S. military in the reserves, or serving five years of active duty. USMMA graduates ensure a steady stream of merchant marine officers who support the nation’s economic and security requirements in times of peace and war.
“America is a maritime nation. Throughout times of peace and war, the graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy have served their country well on the seas, in public and private service,” said Howard. “It is a privilege to address the class of 2014. They will continue a tradition of excellence and uphold the motto ‘Deeds, not Words’.”
This year’s graduates represent 43 states and territories and the three foreign countries; Republic Korea, Republic of Panama and Malaysia.
“For over seventy years, the Academy has trained leaders for careers at sea while instilling the values that allow them to become outstanding leaders in the maritime industry, the military and their communities,” said Superintendent, Rear Admiral James A. Helis. “I am especially proud of these new maritime leaders and am certain that they will continue to make us proud as they embark on a lifetime of service.”
As part of the commencement exercises 29 graduates were sworn in as Active-Duty Officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, USCG, & Army, 3 in the Army Reserves and 1in the Air National Guard. The remaining graduates will serve as reservists in the Navy while working aboard deep sea vessels, offshore supply vessels, tugs, towing vessels, and international flag vessels. Additionally, 10 will enter federal maritime service ashore, with the remaining graduates making their final decisions.