KINGS POINT, N.Y., July 3, 2013 - On Monday, 238 plebe candidates arrived at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy where they took first steps toward a lifetime of leadership and service. After saying their goodbyes to family outside O’Hara Hall, the Class of 2017, were weighed and measured, given nametags, berthing assignments, and the immeasurable potential for success.
While the plebe candidates were getting their first military haircut and changing into PT gear, their parents attended a briefing by the Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., Superintendent, Captain Jay Kennedy, Commandant of Midshipmen, and Dr. Shashi Kumar, PhD., Academic Dean. Each member of the Administration congratulated the parents on the outstanding job they did raising their children and getting them to this point. Captain Kennedy explained how the indoctrination process will take a high school graduate and “get him or her ready to be a midshipman at Kings Point”. He reassured parents lightheartedly saying “Don’t worry. We know what we’re doing.”
Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., Superintendent, a proud parent of a West Point graduate and a current USMMA Midshipman, gave parents encouragement. He said, “Let them struggle, it is part of becoming a leader. They will come through it fine. They will learn to overcome adversity. They will grow through it. Over four years, they will develop into future leaders for our nation.”
Later that morning, Helis addressed the class for the first time, saying, “You would not be here today, if you did not have what it takes to get through. Your appointment to Kings Point is a gift from the American people. Your success is our mission.”
The mission of the United States Merchant Marine Academy is to educate and graduate licensed merchant mariners and leaders of exemplary character who will serve America's marine transportation and defense needs in peace and war.