We Need a #MeToo Maritime Library

Wiley Hall, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (file image)

Published May 14, 2024 9:23 PM by Denise Krepp


My goal in 2024 is to build a #MeToo Maritime Library. To that end, I contacted the Maritime Administration last month asking the agency to create a section on its website focusing on the history of sexual harassment and sexual assaults in the maritime community, and I offered to share my collection of documents for inclusion.  I met with a MARAD official last week to discuss the offer.  I will make a similar ask of the US Coast Guard this summer.

When I was in college at The George Washington University, I worked the circulation desk at Gelman Library. I helped fellow students find books to complete their papers. It might be 10pm, but I loved digging for arcane information only found in the library’s database. 

The experience taught me that personal papers, stored in public libraries, help historians better understand why decisions are made, the unknown individuals involved in the decision-making process, and how seemingly unrelated facts can impact national policy decisions.

I’ve collected #MeToo Maritime documents for over thirteen years, starting with the memo I signed in September 2011 as the Maritime Administration Chief Counsel requesting a Department of Transportation Inspector General investigation into sexual harassment and sexual assaults of US Merchant Marine Academy students at the school and at sea.

Additional documents include testimony before Congressionally mandated panels, essays, correspondence, books, and speeches. Thirteen years of history and it continues to grow.

The MARAD representative inquired if I would support placing the documents at the US Merchant Marine Academy.  Absolutely, I responded.  I want current students to understand why I asked for the IG investigation in 2011 and to follow the trail of history from that document to the current processes in place to stop sexual harassment and assault at the school and at sea.

I’m not the only one to have collected #MeToo Maritime documents. Others have them as well and I will be encouraging those who have built similar collections to consider donating them to MARAD.  The more documents placed at Kings Point, the more knowledge students will have on an important part of maritime history.

When I testified in 2014 before a congressionally mandated panel, I testified as a former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel and as a Coast Guard JAG. My collection includes Coast Guard documents and I will be encouraging the Coast Guard this summer to create a similar collection of documents at the US Coast Guard Academy.

In June 2022, Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg stated “(n)ow is a time, long past time indeed, when we must confront the unique challenges around sexual assault and harassment present across the maritime sector, and impacting students at this Academy.”  I agree with Secretary Buttigieg that it long past time to address this scourge and building #Metoo Maritime libraries at the US Merchant Marine Academy and at the US Coast Guard Academy can make that goal a reality.

K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel. Krepp started her federal career as a Coast Guard officer. She helped create the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. The views expressed in the article are solely the author’s.

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