Senate Approves Enhancing USMMA Oversight Board
The Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision authored by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) to improve the ability of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Board of Visitors to perform critical oversight responsibilities. NDAA now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
“We need to provide the Merchant Marine Academy with the resources it needs to prepare our merchant mariners for challenges they will face when performing their jobs. The academy deserves a Board of Visitors that has the authority to conduct oversight and receive the support it needs from the Department of Transportation. This is an important step in continuing our commitment for first-rate training for midshipmen and women who attend the academy and our responsibilities on waters across the world,” Boozman said.
The language in NDAA expands the board to include non-Congressional stakeholders, such as representatives of the Military Sealift Command and the U.S. Coast Guard. The legislation also provides seats on the Board for at least two USMMA alumni and at least one representative of the maritime shipping industry. The bill ensures the operation of a functional Board, by ensuring that vacancies are promptly filled and that Board Members may continue serving until re-nominated or replaced. Finally, the bill ensures that the Department of Transportation will facilitate annual Board visits to the academy and provide full access. In short, the legislation ensures that Board can effectively inquire into the state of morale and discipline, the curriculum, instruction, physical equipment, fiscal affairs, academic methods, and other matters relating to the Academy.
Boozman, a member of the USMMA Board of Visitors since the 112th Congress, visited the USMMA on Monday for a Board of Visitors meeting, tour of the facility and meetings with midshipmen.
The USMMA at Kings Point, New York, is a four-year educational institution that prepares midshipmen for careers on U.S.-flag ships in the modern merchant marine. All graduates serve as officers in the U.S. military, and many will spend their time aboard Military Sealift Command vessels. Graduates are prepared for careers in business and engineering, with a focus on the maritime industry. In exchange for a first-rate scientific and maritime education, USMMA graduates fulfill a service obligation of either (1) five years in the United States maritime industry, with eight years of service as an officer in any reserve unit of the armed forces, or (2) five years active duty in any of the nation’s armed forces.
The USMMA is the second leading commissioning source for officers in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, and provides numerous officers to the other branches of the armed forces as well. During wars, natural disasters, and other emergencies, the U.S. Merchant Marine can be called to deliver supplies, equipment, emergency relief, or troops. In World War II alone, more than 140 midshipmen gave their lives in service to our country.
Boozman has appointed numerous Arkansans to the USMMA, and many Arkansans have graduated from the Academy and gone on to honorably serve in our armed forces. The USMMA has traditionally prepared its graduates to work on oceangoing vessels, but the Academy is expanding its curriculum to also prepare graduates for work on the inland waterways, such as the rivers that provide shipping to and from Arkansas.
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