Maersk suspends five officers as American cadet rape investigation intensifies

Maersk is taking action as a rape case involving a cadet from US Merchant Marine Academy serving her year at sea has attracted media attention around the globe.

Splash reported on Friday how US authorities are investigating allegations of the rape of a then 19-year-old member of the class of 2022 at the US Merchant Marine Academy while serving her year at sea onboard a Maersk vessel.

The alleged victim wrote extensively about the incident in a post carried by Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy, a non-profit legal advocacy organisation fighting for the rights of mariners, in which she said a first engineer in his 60s raped her after an extraordinary drinking session onboard involving many senior officers. The whistleblower claimed that in her class of 50 women, she knows of at least five other women who were raped during their sea year.

Maersk has since taken action, identifying the ship and suspending five officers as it investigates the case. The information Maersk obtains in its investigation will likely be handed over to the police, officials at the Danish carrier have said.

The US Department of Transportation and Maritime Administration has also started an investigation into the incident and the allegation that other cadets have been sexually assaulted both at sea and on the premises of the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in New York state.

There have been previous incidents of sexual harassment at the academy including a high profile case five years ago and a $1.4m settlement last year for another victim.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. So where was the Master in all this? Aren’t Maersk ships dry ships? What nationality and rank were the officers who committed this heinous act? Was the Master a party to it? I trust Maersk will fire and aid in the prosecution of these men. I have found myself Master of a ship with a sole female on board. On Christmas Eve there was a party, and l had to stay handy to pre-empt any movement of that kind by a crew whose inhibitions were lowered by alcohol. Somehow l don’t think Maersk were set up for this. It must be carefully thought through. Some cultures have such an appalling view of women’s rights that it would’ve been reckless to introduce a woman into such an environment. I recall the first cadet in the British fleet was a peer, starting her sea service as l did in the 1960s. Surely by now some research has been generated into this topic. Regardless, l hope Splash247 will keep us posted on developments in this revolting crime.

    1. “It must be carefully thought through” Yes Colin, it must.
      “Somehow l don’t think Maersk were set up for this. It must be carefully thought through.” Yes Colin, it must.
      “US Merchant Marine Academy serving her year at sea …… how US authorities” See the connection? If it had been other than a US flagged vessel it wouldn’t have been US authorities. and what nationality are officers on US flag vessels?
      The USA has a rape culture. Texas alone 15,000 a year.
      “Maersk has suspended five crew and amid allegations a US Merchant Marine Academy cadet was raped on a containership in 2019″
      ” Bill Woodhour, CEO of the company’s US subsidiary, Maersk Line, Limited, said, “We are shocked and deeply saddened about what we have read. We take this situation seriously and are disturbed by the allegations made in this anonymous posting which has only recently been brought to our attention. We do everything we can to ensure that all of our workplace environments, including vessels, are a safe and welcoming workplace and we’ve launched a top to the bottom investigation.”
      “MLL is working closely with the U.S. labor unions, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Trade Unions ”
      Nina Baker, Sheila Edmondson or Judy Matthews?

      1. Well said. It is quite obvious , when one looks at something long enough , there is always something to be seen and not everything is what it seems. Careful examination of written , voice and video historical materials, originating from one of the US based , maritime news joints could be quite revealing. Could not resist the impression of detecting Saul Alinsky pattern/style of “shake downs” .

  2. While I am a firm believer of men-women equality, and ignoring male chauvinism totally, I also believe that Sea life is not condusive to the fairer sex in terms of safety from sexual harassment. All class of seafarers from various nationalities sailing on ships have differing IQ level, different ethical and moral values, and with the monotony of sailing at sea, temptation of taking undue advantage of the gullible females becomes not only strong but inevitable. It is better to train women in Port and Shipping Management, and offer them suitable employment in the shore based relevant jobs, where they can excel given their strong ability of concentration, dedication and negotiation.

    1. This attitude is part if not all of the problem. Read it again Captain and you’ll see how it and your thinking are shot-through with male chauvinism. All you do is make excuses for male crew members’ contemptible behaviour. You are utterly wrong. This kind of violence and cruelty in the treatment of women should be unacceptable both at sea and ashore. According to you, women who desire a career at sea must be punished because Neanderthal male seaman can’t control themselves. Hardly seems fair. I have had women crew on my ships and they get along fine. The Captain, and the warning he sends to the male crew, is usually enough to set the right tone. It seems the Captain of this Maersk ship shared the rest of the crew’s chauvinism, so she could look for no help from him. A competent Master would set the right tone on the ship by his bearing and demeanour. He should communicate to the crew that harassment of any kind will be harshly dealt with. Of course the company must back him in this.

      1. Colin, you are not the one to be lecturing others given your total inability to even understand the article or the evidence.

    2. Having sailed with female seafarers of various nationalities since 1959 I never once saw any evidence of sexual harassment. This incident is indicative of the USA nit seafaring and yes, you are a chauvinist, very much so given your language and attitude. you also seem misogynistic, racist and xenophobic to boot.

  3. There is only one answer to David Boffey’s malign ramblings……….4Q. If you’re any kind of seaman you’ll know what it means.

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