USMMA Alumni Release Commemorative Video

By The Maritime Executive 09-12-2018 06:02:00

Alumni of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) have released a video to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the institution and memorialize midshipmen who have died in service to their nation.

Over the summer, the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation (USMMA-AAF) has been executing a campaign designed to remind the nation how vital the Academy is to both national security and global commerce, and of the importance of maritime security in turbulent times.

"We really hope this anthemic video connects the dots for our fellow citizens," said Captain James Tobin, President of the USMMA-AAF. "Throughout history, the work, and sacrifices, of our graduates in defending the nation has not been fully understood."

The campaign comes at a time when policymakers are increasingly concerned about China's massive spending on its merchant marine and the U.S.'s disconcerting shortfall of qualified, committed mariners who can serve the nation in times of crisis, says the USMMA-AAF.

Along with graduates of the other four federal service academies, USMMA graduates have committed to military service as a condition of matriculation at these elite institutions. Over 80 percent of the U.S. Navy Reserve Strategic Sealift Officer force graduated from USMMA and thus play an increasingly crucial role in defense readiness.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, NY, was formally established in 1943 for the purpose of, as President Roosevelt said when he spoke at its opening, "serv[ing] the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy." 

Like the other four federal academies (West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy), USMMA was created by statute. These five academies are the only undergraduate institutions of higher education that are part of the federal government.

Today's graduates incur a five-year federal service obligation and an eight-year armed forces reserve obligation. Graduates meet their five-year obligation by serving as officers in the merchant marine or, upon approval, entering active military duty. USMMA graduates play a vital role in maintaining the maritime strength and security of the nation, making up more than 80 percent of the Strategic Sealift Officer Program force.

USMMA was the first of the federal service academies to admit women in 1974 and graduate women in 1978, a full two years before the other academies. 

USMMA educates a regiment of approximately 950 midshipmen each year.