The U.S. Maritime Administration has signed a $200,000 agreement with the industry's Ship Operations Cooperative Program for new training materials addressing shipboard sexual assault, harassment and bullying.
The deliverables include computer-based trainings and a best practices tool kit. These are intended to promote a culture of zero tolerance for abusive or coercive shipboard behavior.
The package will be developed by licensed mariners from within MARAD, together with representatives from MARAD's Civil Rights Office and a contractor experienced in addressing sexual harassment and coercive behavior in other industries.
MARAD said in a statement that the initiative is part of its broader efforts together with DOT and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to create an "environment of inclusion for all in the industry."
MARAD and DOT sparked controversy in the maritime community in June when they suspended USMMA's at-sea training component, Sea Year, citing a pattern of sexual assault, sexual harassment and coercion in the program. Many graduates and students assert that the suspension was an overreaction; Sea Year remains suspended indefinitely for midshipmen on commercial vessels, pending a consultant's review of the school.
In announcing the independent review and the continued suspension of Sea Year on commercial ships, DOT spokesman Michael Novak said that "the more we dug into the problem, the more evident it became that the inappropriate behaviors we are trying to stem at sea cannot be addressed without addressing the campus culture."
DOT has hired the defense and government consulting organization Logistics Management Institute (LMI) to conduct the study.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation hired a separate consulting firm to conduct a parallel review – including an examination of the effectiveness of the Sea Year suspension.