USMMA Newsletter, December 2015

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U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

In the News

December 2015

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Message from the Superintendent

Dear Midshipmen, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Parents and Friends:

I wish you and your families a joyous holiday season and a restful winter break. This has been another eventful year for the Academy.

Together with the new, we brought back two traditions in 2015. First, we were all happy to bring back spring break, which was on hiatus in 2014 due to time lost through the government’s lapse in funding. Also, this year our first class Midshipmen are again wearing letter jackets; which look great on campus.

Who comes to the Academy says something about who we are as an institution. We were honored to host some important guests and speakers in 2015. Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was our Battle Standard Dinner guest speaker. The presence of the nation’s senior military officer highlights Kings Point’s importance in American history and the vital role that Kings Pointers continue to play in serving our country in peace and war. We were also honored to host U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at our annual Academic Convocation, celebrating the beginning the 2015-16 Academic Year. Maritime Administrator Paul N. Jaenichen, Sr., was the Academy’s Commencement speaker. The Administrator also welcomed the incoming Class of 2019 on Acceptance Day, and addressed the Regiment at the December change of command.

In our 79th Commencement we graduated 227 new Merchant Marine and Military Officers, as the Class of 2015 became our newest Kings Point Alumni. We then welcomed 255 plebe candidates of the Class of 2019. The new class maintains the outstanding profile of recent classes, with almost a third having graduated in the top 10% of their class, and with female enrollment at an Academy record 20%.

We were all very proud of our football, men's soccer, and women's volleyball teams as they swept the Secretaries' Cup weekend with three victories over the Coast Guard Bears! It's a great weekend every year, where both Academies' Regiments are present at each game, and they were cheering loudly for their teams in the three very close contests.

The Regimental Band gave possibly their best performance I have heard when they performed for the opening of the LTJG Ralph E. Crump '46 Merchant Marine Gallery at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Capt. Ken Force, who in 2015 announced his plans to retire next year, has made outstanding contributions to the Academy, bringing national and international recognition to USMMA.

Our Varsity Intercollegiate Sailing Team returned to the I.C.S.A. National Championships this year. Our Department of Waterfront Operations and Training also got the plebe Class of 2019 underway on the T/V Kings Pointer for overnight cruises. These training trips provided the plebes an introduction to deck and engine operations aboard a merchant vessel, and provided the upperclassmen practical leadership experience.

Eight Bells rang this year for members of our Kings Point community and for the greater Merchant Marine community. Engineering Professor Capt. Elwood Charles Baumgart died in July. At his memorial service here he was remembered not only as a consummate professional and knowledgeable dedicated professor, but also more personally as a sports fan, and as a generous friend and shipmate with a big heart. In October we bid farewell to the Academy’s former Athletic Director, Susan Petersen Lubow. Much of the success of our Department of Physical and Education and Athletics was because of Sue. She was a strong leader with a great vision, and she had an unparalleled love for the Academy and our midshipmen.

The loss of the El Faro and its crew was felt across the Merchant Marine community and the maritime academies. The loss reminds us of the challenges of the sea, and the very purpose and importance of our work. Let us never forget the service these mariners, and all seafarers, provide to all Americans and our nation. Those who go out to the sea help defend our shores, and provide the lifeblood for our nation’s commerce.

This was also a year of transition. In July we welcomed Maureen “Mo” White on board to lead the Department of Physical Education and Athletics.   In October our Academic Dean Dr. Shashi Kumar left to serve as MARAD’s new Deputy Associate Administrator and National Coordinator for Maritime Education and Training. Engineering Professor Capt. David J. Palmer is serving as Interim Dean until the process of recruiting, selecting, and on-boarding the next full-time Academic Dean is completed. Lastly, Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Jay Kennedy departed, and Capt. Robert "Bob" DeStafney took over as Acting Commandant until we installed our newest Commandant of Midshipmen, Capt. David B. Sosa. You can learn more about our newest Academy members at the linked articles.

We look forward to the year ahead, as the Class of 2016 prepares for graduation and careers providing vital support to our nation’s economic and defense needs. Meanwhile, the large number of diverse and highly qualified Class of 2020 candidates promises the Academy will continue to be a place of incomparable academic experiences for our Midshipmen!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday break, and I look forward to a great 2016 here at Kings Point!

Rear Admiral James A. Helis


 New Commandant

USMMA Installs new Commandant

Capt. David B. Sosa, USMS, was installed as the Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. In a ceremony attended by Deputy Maritime Administrator Mike Rodriguez ’79, the Regiment of Midshipmen, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the Academy, Superintendent Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS, appointed Sosa a Captain in the United States Maritime Service, administering the Oath of Office for Maritime Service Officers. Then Sosa formally relieved acting Commandant of Midshipmen, Capt. Robert "Bob" DeStafney, USMS.

Click Here for Full Story


 Matt McDaniels

McDaniels Leads Team Stars & Stripes to 15-14 Win In Tazón de Estrellas

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Mexico, Team Stars & Stripes ran a two-point play on the first day of practice, USMMA Midshipman 1st Class Matt McDaniels tossing a pass to fellow quarterback Brady Huber in the end zone. On Saturday that same play won the seventh annual Tazón de Estrellas at the Margarita Astiazrán de Fimbres Stadium in Baja.

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 Sea Year return

USMMA Celebrates Midshipmen Return from Sea

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Regiment of Midshipmen welcomed back 193 cadets who returned to the Academy after completing their Sea Year assignment, during a “Back From Sea Dinner.”

Midshipmen got a head start sharing stories a few days earlier, during the Academy’s first “Sea Story Sunday,” held in Land Hall.

Click Here for Full Story


 Message to Maine Maritime

USMMA's Cookie Cafe Families Deliver Comfort to Maritime Academies Suffering the Loss of El Faro

A much loved custom at the Academy broke with tradition by taking their cookies to other maritime academies to bring comfort to students, alumni, faculty, staff and families who suffered the loss of a crew member aboard the El Faro lost during Hurricane Joaquin.

Click Here for Full Story


 Science Club

USMMA Science Club Inspires Young Scientists at National Chemistry Week Event

A team of 13 USMMA midshipmen and seven faculty members joined 20 schools and organizations giving chemistry presentations to hundreds of visitors to the New York Hall of Science’s annual National Chemistry Week.

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 Army Reserve

The Army Goes "Sailing" Along - Army Leaders Introduce Midshipmen to Career Opportunities

Two U.S. Army Reserve vessels arrived at Kings Point and tied up at Mallory Pier in November. Over several days, U. S. Army Reserve leaders met with midshipmen and introduced them to the obligation-fulfilling career opportunities that are available to them as reservists aboard Army watercraft.

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 Mat Mayhem

Wrestling team Selected to Compete at the NWCA National Duals in early January

The USMMA wrestling team has been invited to compete in the 2016 NWCA National Duals, which will be held Jan. 8-9 at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. The Mariners are one of just 24 Division III programs that were invited to compete at the prestigious "Mat Mayhem" event. This is the first time in program history that the USMMA squad will compete in this highly-selective national event.

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 Elie Wiesel Foundation Awards

Kings Pointers Win Awards from the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and its corporate sponsor, LRN, awarded two Class of 2015 graduates prizes for their submissions to the 2015 Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest at a ceremony in New York City.

Click Here for Full Story


U. S. Merchant Marine Academy, 300 Steamboat Road, Kings Point, New York, 11024 Office of External Affairs 516-726-6048