3147
Views

Engineer in Midshipman-X Case Voluntarily Surrenders License to USCG

alliance fairfax
Alliance Fairfax was the vessel on which the engineer was working and the sea year duty was taking place (US Army photo from 2023 offloading in Kuwait)

Published Aug 24, 2023 5:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The engineer at the center of the “Midshipman X” case that rocked the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 2021, voluntarily relinquished his license to the U.S. Coast Guard yesterday. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Investigative Service confirmed that Edgar Sison, who had been the first assistant engineer on the Alliance Fairfax in 2019, handed over his license and the USCG ended its action against Sison.

It marked at least the sixth mariner to either surrender their license or accept suspensions from the U.S. Coast Guard after charges of sexual misconduct while working on ships. Sison and none of the others however have faced criminal charges.

The Midship-X case came to light in 2021 when a then anonymous midshipman from the U.S. Merchant Martine Academy published an account of her experience as the only woman working aboard a ship during sea year duty. She recounted harassment and inappropriate behavior before one night when she said an engineer aboard the ship got her drunk and while she was incapacitated raped her. The graphic account of her experiences led to a second midshipman also coming forward telling a similar experience on the same ship and MARAD suspending sea year duty.

Maersk Line, Limited, the U.S. operation of the company that runs ships under charter to the U.S. government investigated the allegations and fired several seafarers including Sison for their actions including drinking alcohol, and for their role in supervising some of the accused individuals. Maersk settled lawsuits with both of the women but was being sued by one of the engineers in the Midshipman-Y case who claimed wrongful termination.

Prosecutors in Florida where Sison lives reviewed the case and declined to bring criminal charges against him. The U.S. Coast Guard in March 2023 had instigated administrative charges against Sison for the unauthorized possession of alcohol aboard the Alliance Fairfax in 2019 and consuming alcohol against the company’s policy. Last week, the USCG amended its case adding in the allegation that Sison sexually assaulted Hope Hicks, the woman who had later identified herself as Midshipman-X, and his actions also endangered the safety of the ship. The USCG was seeking to permanently revoke Sison’s license.

Surrendering their licenses has been a common technique used by the accused in many USCG cases to avoid the hearing and potential further penalties. A lawyer for Hicks told a local New York newspaper Newsday that it was the best outcome they could hope for at this point in the case. It ensures that Sison will never work again on a ship with his U.S. license. 

The allegations in two midshipmen cases were part of a larger culture of harassment and assault revealed at both the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and now at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The Department of Transportation, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy took action to address some of the issues raised. Hick and her lawyer had continued to advocate for action by the FBI, Department of Justice, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

However, in an exposé released by CNN earlier this year, it was reported that the U.S. Coast Guard had systematically covered up years of allegations of sexual misconduct. The new commandants of the service and academy were forced to apologize, while the U.S. Congress is investigating and moving forward with legislation to protect midshipmen and their rights in reporting sexual misconduct.