The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) graduated 201 new maritime leaders as part of its Class of 2013 commencement ceremony. The keynote speaker, General William M. Fraser III, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), gave the commencement address before a crowd of more than 2,000 including special guest U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, graduates, family members and representatives from the federal government, armed forces and maritime industry.
“The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is an enormous asset to our nation, and I continue to be impressed by its graduates,” said Secretary LaHood. “These young men and women are now prepared to support our nation’s economic and national security on the waterways. This Administration remains committed to equipping all who come here with the tools and training needed for a long and fulfilling career as merchant mariners.”
The congressionally-nominated graduates received a Bachelor of Science Degree and government-issued merchant marine officer license that will help ensure a steady stream of merchant marine officers to support the nation’s economic and security interests.
“True leaders are built on integrity – you must always maintain the courage of your convictions. Built on that integrity you must maintain your desire, your discipline, your commitment and your willingness to make sacrifices,” said Fraser. “We recognize the great opportunity for positive change you will lead. As I look upon this audience, I know we are in good hands.”
This year’s graduates represent 37 states and the four foreign countries of South Korea, Malaysia, Republic of Panama and Singapore. USMMA graduates have the option of working in the seagoing merchant marine and transportation industry while enlisting in any armed force reserve unit or applying for active duty for five years.
“For over seven decades, the Academy has trained the next generation of leaders for careers at sea instilling in them the character to become leaders in the maritime industry, the military and their communities,” said Rear Admiral, James A. Helis, Ph.D., superintendent at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. “I am especially proud of these new maritime leaders knowing they will be able to transform any challenge to a triumph as they embark on a lifetime of service.”
Based on Academy estimates, 49 of the Class of 2013 graduates will serve as officers in active military duty and 141 will serve as officers in the reserves while sailing on U.S. flag vessels; 82 on deep sea vessels, 37 on-off supply vessels and 19 on inland waterway and towing vessels; two on international flag vessels with the remaining graduates now making their final decisions.