Why MARAD Needs to Preserve the History of SASH Abuses in Maritime

File image courtesy U.S. DOT

Published Apr 7, 2024 12:02 PM by Denise Krepp


I’m a maritime #MeToo trailblazer, and I've asked the Maritime Administration to create a section on its website sharing the history of sexual harassment and assault in the maritime industry. I made the ask as a former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel, and I asked that my papers be included on it.

I began collecting papers the moment I became a maritime #MeToo trailblazer in 2011. I kept a copy of the letter that triggered the Department of Transportation Inspector General (IG) investigation I requested into sexual harassment and sexual assault at the US Merchant Marine Academy. I kept a copy of the letter I sent to the IG and I kept a copy of the Department of Transportation’s response to my request.

When I testified twice in 2014 before a Congressionally mandated panel, I kept copies of the transcripts. I kept a copy of the article that I wrote in 2013 that triggered the invitation. I kept a copy of the 2014 Maritime Executive article I wrote sharing information about my testimony. I wrote the Maritime Executive essay to shine a light on the problem. I kept the essay because I knew that someday historians would want to read it.

Fast forward to 2019, I kept the transcript of the US Commission on Civil Rights hearing wherein I discussed what triggered the 2011 request. I kept the 2023 essay I wrote for CNN and the 2023 essay Fox wrote about me.

When I started building the library, no one had heard of #MeToo. No one knew about Midshipman X. The lack of knowledge about either didn’t mean that crimes weren’t occurring. They were, and that’s why I testified, sought Congressional oversight, and recommended IG investigation.

When I became a maritime #MeToo trailblazer in 2011, I didn’t know what was in front of me.  I didn’t know that a distraught mother would call me asking for help for her son who was sexually assaulted. I didn’t know that it would take decade for the maritime industry to opening talk about a crime that has devastated lives. I didn’t know who would help me advocate for maritime sexual assault survivors or where the help would come from. 

What I did know was that sexual harassment and sexual assault don’t belong in the maritime industry. I also knew that sexual assault is a crime which should be prosecuted.

My goal in placing the library I created on MARAD’s website is to help historians understand that individuals like myself have been using and will continue to use our voices to help sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors. We’re each given a voice, and there is a choir of voices in 2024 singing for change.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.