A Path Forward for Reforming USMMA's SASH Response

File image courtesy USMMA

Published Nov 29, 2021 9:35 PM by Denise Krepp

In 2011, I asked for a Department of Transportation Inspector General investigation into at-school and Sea Year sexual assaults against US Merchant Marine Academy students. I testified twice about the same assaults before a Congressionally-mandated panel in 2014, so I was saddened to read the Maritime Executive article regarding the recently released National Academy of Public Administration report. Ten years later, USMMA students are still afraid to report crimes. 

I don’t want another decade to go by before the problem is solved. As a former Maritime Administration Chief Counsel, I’m proposing the following solutions:

Maritime Security Program - U.S. flag vessel owners who participate in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) receive a $5.3 million per year per ship stipend from the US government.  One of the requirements to receive this funding is to permit USMMA students to train aboard the MSP ships. I recommend that Maritime Administration should update the MSP contracts to include a provision stating that the shipowner will lose the stipend if sexual assault or sexual harassment occurs aboard the ship. This would send the signal that zero tolerance is more than a fancy slogan.

Ethics and leadership training - Supervisors at the Maritime Administration, USMMA, state maritime universities, and in the maritime industry should receive ethics and lea....

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