On Saturday, August 8, The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point welcomed 243 “plebe candidates” of the Class of 2019 into the Regiment of Midshipmen as they took USMMA’s Corps of Cadets Oath administrated by Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., Superintendent of USMMA, during the Acceptance Day Ceremony and Parade. They were then sworn in as midshipmen in the U.S. Navy Reserve by Rear Admiral Mark R, Whitney, Deputy Commander, Logistics, Maintenance and Industrial Operations Naval Sea Systems Command.
Acceptance Day marks the transition of the “plebe candidates” to “plebes.” The Class of 2019 officially arrived on June 30, 2015. The congressionally-nominated plebe candidates began a rigorous, 20-day regimen of academic, military, and physical training known as Indoctrination – their first step toward becoming future leaders and licensed merchant marine officers.
After administering the oath to the newest Navy reservists, Rear Admiral Whitney discussed the leadership challenges they will face. “There are two key parts to trust that every leader must have: positional and earned.” He told the plebes that as graduates of the Merchant Marine Academy, they will have a definite advantage by the experiences they will have through their time here. He told them, “You will earn trust by being true to the leadership tenant of never expecting anybody to do something you haven't done yourself.” He closed his remarks by saying that the nation is waiting on their strong leadership now and in the future, serving in the Merchant Marine or Navy.
Rear Admiral Helis said, “We were honored to have Rear Admiral Whitney as our Reviewing Officer. As a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy and as a career Navy officer knows the unique challenges and exciting opportunities that await the Class of 2019,” Helis said. “Having Rear Admiral Whitney welcome them aboard is especially meaningful as they begin their service careers.”
Following the ceremony, the new plebes joined the Regiment of Midshipmen and marched past the Reviewing Officer, Rear Admiral Whitney, who was joined by Maritime Administrator, Paul N. Jaenichen, Rear Admiral Helis, and the Acting Commandant of Midshipmen, Captain Bob DeStafney.
The Academy is the only federal service academy where graduates earn three graduation credentials – a Bachelor of Science Degree, an Officer’s commission in any branch of the military and a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) license as a Deck or Engineering Officer. In preparation for USCG license exams, each midshipman will spend a minimum of 300 days at sea aboard U.S. flagged vessels involved in global trade or military operations.
As part of their service obligation, Kings Point graduates serve five years on active-duty in the military or sail five years as Officers in the U. S. Merchant Marine and six years in the reserves. USMMA is the largest single commissioning source for the U.S. Navy after the Naval Academy, ensuring a steady stream of leaders and merchant marine officers to support the nation’s economic and security interests.