The US Department of Transportation has decided to temporarily pause the next cycle of the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA)’s Sea Year programme due to an ongoing sexual assault and sexual harassment case.
In a joint letter to midshipmen, DOT deputy secretary Polly Trottenberg, acting maritime administrator Lucinda Lessley, and USMMA superintendent vice-admiral Jack Buono said that the decision was one of the most difficult they have faced.
“It is our hope to have a plan quickly that unites the entire maritime community and that we can present to Congress so that you can resume sailing in December,” the letter said.
The letter also warned USMMA’s students not to retaliate against those who report allegations of sexual assault and harassment. “Retaliation has no place in our community and will not be tolerated.”
USMMA leadership will convene a series of meetings this week, including an all hands meeting with midshipmen, to provide everyone an opportunity to continue these critical discussions.
“This is a challenging time for USMMA and for the entire maritime industry. “We stand in unwavering support of all survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment at sea and throughout the entire campus, and we pledge to continue to work closely with you as we navigate the way forward,” the statement concluded.
The decision to halt the Sea Year follows several anonymous accounts of alleged sexual assault on US merchant vessels.