United States Merchant Marine Academy

United States Merchant Marine Academy
Motto Acta Non Verba (Latin)
Motto in English
Deeds not Words
Type US Service Academy
Established 1943
Superintendent James A. Helis
USMA '79
Dean David Palmer
Commandant of Midshipmen David B. Sosa
Academic staff
Students 1,011 Midshipmen
Location Kings Point, New York
40°48′43.89″N 73°45′48.42″W / 40.8121917°N 73.7634500°W / 40.8121917; -73.7634500Coordinates: 40°48′43.89″N 73°45′48.42″W / 40.8121917°N 73.7634500°W / 40.8121917; -73.7634500
Campus Suburban - 82 acres (33.2 ha)
Fight Song Kings Point Victory
Colors Blue      and      Gray
Athletics NCAA Division IIILC
Sports 15 varsity sports teams
(10 men's and 5 women's)
Nickname Mariners
Mascot Salty the Sea Eagle
Website www.usmma.edu
Aerial view of United States Merchant Marine Academy

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (also known as USMMA or Kings Point) is one of the five United States service academies, located in Kings Point, New York. It is charged with training officers for the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, and the transportation industry. Midshipmen (as students at the Academy are called) are trained in marine engineering, navigation, ship's administration, maritime law, personnel management, international law, customs, and many other subjects important to the task of running a large ship.


Between 1874 and 1936, diverse federal legislation supported maritime training through schoolships, internships at sea and other methods. A disastrous fire in 1934 aboard the passenger ship SS Morro Castle, in which 134 lives were lost, convinced the U.S. Congress that direct federal involvement in efficient and standardized training was needed.

Originally—and in cooperation with the State of New York (which donated the land)—the U.S. government planned to establish a large-scale Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler, New York; but nothing came of these plans.[1]

Congress passed the landmark Merchant Marine Act in 1936, and two years later, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was established. In that year, the USTS Nantucket (ex-USS Ranger) was transferred from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to Kings Point and renamed the USTS Emory Rice. The first training was given at temporary facilities until the Academy's permanent site in Kings Point, New York was acquired in early 1942. The Kings Point campus was originally Walter Chrysler's twelve-acre waterfront estate, named "Forker House" (now known as the USMMA's Wiley Hall).[2] Construction of the Academy began immediately, and 15 months later the task was virtually completed. The Academy was dedicated on September 30, 1943, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who noted that "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."

World War II required the Academy to forgo its normal operation and to devote all of its resources toward meeting the emergency need for Merchant Marine officers. Its enrollment rose to 2,700 men, and the planned course of instruction was reduced in length from four years to 18 months. To meet the wartime needs for qualified merchant marine officers two additional merchant marine cadet training school sites were established, one located in Pass Christian, Mississippi and the other in San Mateo, California. The San Mateo location was closed in September 1947 and the students transferred to Kings Point. The location in Pass Christian was similarly closed in 1950. In spite of the war, shipboard training continued to be an integral part of the Academy curriculum, and midshipmen served at sea in combat zones the world over. One hundred and forty-two midshipmen gave their lives in service to their country, and many others survived torpedo and aerial attacks. From 1942–1945, the Academy graduated 6,895 officers. As the war drew to a close, plans were made to convert the Academy's wartime curriculum to a four-year, college-level program to meet the peacetime requirements of the merchant marine. In 1948, such a course was instituted.

Authorization for awarding the degree of bachelor of science to graduates was granted by Congress in 1949. The Academy became fully accredited as a degree-granting institution in the same year. It was made a permanent institution by an Act of Congress in 1956. The Academy accelerated graduating classes during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It was involved in such programs as training U.S. officers for the nuclear-powered merchant ship, the NS Savannah.

Admission requirements were amended in 1974, and this Academy became the first federal service academy to enroll female students, two years before the Military, Naval, Air Force, and Coast Guard Academies.

During the Persian Gulf War in early 1991, and for many months prior to the war, both Academy graduates and midshipmen played important roles in the large sealift of military supplies to the Middle East. Midshipmen training at sea also participated in the humanitarian sealift to Somalia during Operation Restore Hope.

In 1992, the Academy acquired its largest campus-based training vessel, the T/V Kings Pointer. After 20 years at the Academy, MARAD transferred the ship to Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston to serve as its new primary training vessel. This was followed by an announcement on August 21, 2012, that NASA agreed to transfer the MV Liberty Star to the U.S. Department of Transportation for use as the new training vessel at the Academy.[3] Before being redesigned to serve as a training vessel for students, the former MV Liberty Star served as a solid rocket booster recovery vessel for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), retrieving solid rocket boosters following space shuttle launches.[4] In June, 2014 the vessel was rechristened the T/V Kings Pointer, the fifth vessel of the Academy to carry that name. The rechristening followed the earlier dedication of the Academy’s newly replaced Mallory Pier.

In the 1990s, the Academy’s future came into question when it was included in the National Performance Review whose chairman was Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. The report recommended half federal subsidy and half tuition to reduce costs.[5] Congress, however, soundly rejected the recommendation and voted to prohibit charging tuition to students.[6]

Between 2009 and 2014, the Obama Administration invested more than $450 million at the Academy, including almost $100 million for capital improvements— the most funding ever secured for physical improvements at the Academy.[4]

During the September 11 attacks, the Merchant Marine Academy assisted in the evacuation of civilians from Lower Manhattan as well as the transportation of first responders and supplies to and from Ground Zero. Midshipman, faculty and staff from the academy, within hours of the attack, were using boats from the waterfront and sending them to the city. Members of the Merchant Marine Academy participated in the relief efforts for nine days.[7]

Merchant Marine Academy midshipmen and graduates have been involved in many facets of the war in Iraq. Many graduates were involved in the transportation of supplies during the buildup to the war in 2003. Many graduates in the U.S. Naval Reserve, now known as the Navy Reserve, have been called to active duty to serve supporting naval roles in ports in Iraq and Kuwait. Graduates who have entered other branches of the service have had more direct roles in Iraq. Aaron Seesan, a 2003 graduate and Army First Lieutenant, was the first graduate to give his life for his country during a war since the Vietnam War.

George W. Bush delivering the commencement address at the Academy.

Because of the service of midshipmen in every major conflict the country has been involved in since World War II, the regiment is privileged to carry a regimental battle standard. The Merchant Marine Academy is the only Federal Service Academy granted the right to do so, and the standard is carried with the colors at all times. Campaign ribbons from all the conflicts midshipmen have taken part in help to dress the battle standard, and bring honor to the academy and her midshipmen.[8]

On 19 June 2006, President George W. Bush gave the commencement address at the Academy, becoming the first sitting president to visit the academy.[9]


In addition to requiring strong GPA and SAT/ACT scores, to be eligible to enter the Academy a candidate must:

Medical/Physical Clearance - Candidates are required to pass a DoDMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) physical, and take the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA) to assess physical fitness.

Security Clearance - In order to receive a commission at graduation as an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces, candidates are required to complete a security clearance upon enrollment at the Academy.


The Academy is administered by the U.S. Maritime Administration, and has an annual budget of $85 million from the United States Department of Transportation.[10]

The entire student body is referred to as the Regiment of Midshipmen and is subdivided into two battalions and five companies. The 1st and 2nd Companies form the 1st Battalion, the 3rd and 4th Companies make up the 2nd Battalion, while the Academy Band is the 5th Company. Company assignment is random, although candidates with experience of playing a musical instrument are highly considered for joining the Band Company.

Department of Public Safety

The USMMA Department of Public Safety is a full-service law enforcement agency responsible for campus safety and security.[11] It has mutual-aid agreements with the nearby Kings Point police and fire departments, and Nassau County Police Department, as well as investigative support from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Department Head is assisted by two federal police officers and two federal guards, with contract security guards utilized to meet minimum manning requirements. Federal police officers, federal guards and contract guards wear distinct uniforms and perform access control, foot and motor patrols, respond to transmitted fire and security alarms, address safety and security matters, direct traffic and enforce parking and traffic regulations.[12] The police officers have full arrest authority under federal law (Title 40 United States Code section 1315), and may also issue Federal and New York State summonses, protect persons and property, prevent breaches of the peace and enforce rules and regulations for the protection of property at the Academy. The guards have no arrest authority other than that of an ordinary citizen.


Freshmen enter as plebe candidates in early July, when they begin a two-and-a-half week indoctrination period familiarly called "indoc." Indoc is run by upperclass drill instructors overseen by United States Maritime Service officers of the Commandant of Midshipman's staff. This high stress period involves physical training, marching, and an intensive introduction to regimental life at the academy. After indoc, the academic year begins. On Acceptance Day, in August, first-year students take the oath of office of the U.S. Navy Reserve and become members of the regiment as plebes. Plebes are required to adhere to stringent rules affecting most aspects of their daily lives. In the spring, plebes are recognized as Midshipmen, fourth class, a status that eases the restrictions and affords some privileges

Midshipmen focus on one of two ship transport areas of education: marine transportation or marine engineering. Transportation students learn about ship navigation, cargo handling, navigation rules and maritime law. Engineering students learn about the function of the ship's engines and its supporting systems. There are six academic majors: the "Deck Majors" are Marine Transportation and Maritime Logistics and Security. These majors grant midshipman a Third Mate license for work on steam or motor vessels of unlimited tonnage. The three engineering majors--Marine Engineering, Marine Engineering Systems, and Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management--are referred to as "Engine Majors". These majors lead to the issuance of Third Assistant Engineer (3 A/E – Engineering Officer) licenses for steam and motor vessel of any horsepower. The final major, Maritime Operations and Technology, referred to as "Shoppers", may obtain certification as "Qualified Members of Engine Department", the highest unlicensed rating in the engine department. Marine Engineering Systems and Marine Engineering Systems and Shipyard Management graduates are also qualified to sit for the Engineer in Training (EIT) examination administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).

For part of sophomore and junior years, third- and second-class midshipmen serve as cadets on US merchant ships. Midshipmen are typically paired two to a ship, an engineering cadet and a deck cadet. Midshipmen work and function as part of the crew and gain an opportunity for hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to travel abroad to foreign ports. The average midshipman travels to eighteen countries during the three-hundred-day training period.[10] This practical training necessitates an academic year that runs from late July to mid-June.

Toward the end of 1st class (senior) year, midshipmen prepare for exams to be licensed as either Third Assistant Engineers (steam and motor unlimited HP) or Third Mates (any gross tons, oceans). All US merchant marine officers must be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The following academic programs (Bachelor of Science 4 year degree programs) are offered at USMMA[13]


The USMMA Mariners compete in Division III of the NCAA, as a member of the Skyline Conference in all sports (men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, swimming & diving, track & field and volleyball) except in football, where they are an associate member of the Liberty League, and collegiate wrestling, where they are a member of the Centennial Conference. The USMMA was a member of the Skyline Conference until the 2006–07 season until it was brought back for the 2016-2017 academic year. The Academy was also a charter member in the Landmark Conference from 2007 until 2016. [14]

Distinguished midshipmen

The Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which can be bestowed upon members of the United States Merchant Marine and is the service’s equivalent of the Medal of Honor. Since mariners serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine are not employed by the Department of Defense, they are not eligible for the Medal of Honor.

Since USMMA opened in 1943, eight midshipmen have been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

After graduation

Midshipmen at Kings Point have a wide variety of options upon graduation. Unlike the nation's other Federal Service Academies, graduates of USMMA are required to fulfill their service obligation on their own by providing annual proof of employment in a wide variety of occupations as approved by MARAD for a specified period of time.

Graduates may elect to fulfill their service obligation by working as licensed officers on US-flagged merchant vessels, as civilians in the maritime industry, or as active duty officers in any branch of the armed forces of the United States. Regardless, graduates are required to maintain their US Coast Guard-issued merchant marine officer's license for a period of at least 6 years.

Those graduates electing to enter the civilian work force in the maritime industry, and those sailing in the Merchant Marine, are also required to maintain their Naval Reserve commission (or another reserve component commission) for a period of at least 8 years and are required to serve in the maritime industry for at least 5 years following graduation.

A graduate from USMMA receive upon graduation:

American Merchant Marine Museum

The USMMA in Kings Point, New York is the home of the American Merchant Marine Museum.[16] The museum houses the Academy's collection of maritime art and artifacts. The museum contains a learning center which is open to the regiment and the public, as well as a number of exhibits including the only known back-acting engine still in existence, that of the former gunboat USS Ranger.

The museum also houses the National Maritime Hall of Fame.[17] The only permanent exhibit of its kind in the nation, the Hall of Fame honors people and ships important to American oceanic, coastal, inland waterway and Great Lakes shipping. Inductees into the Hall of Fame must have been deceased, or sunk or scrapped, for at least five years. Only one person and one ship are inducted into the Hall of Fame each year. The hall inducted its first set of members in or about 1982.

Among the museum's many items are the world's largest collection of navigation and nautical instruments, and the only extensive selection of ship's china, on display anywhere in the world. In addition, one of the five surrender swords presented by the Japanese to Douglas MacArthur at the conclusion of World War II is housed there.

Images from the museum and from the Academy can be seen at this website - Photographic Catalog of the US Merchant Marine Academy


3rd Supt. Rear Admiral Richard McNulty
  1. . Captain James Harvey Tomb, USN 1942–1943
  2. . Rear Admiral Giles C. Stedman, USNR 1943–1946
  3. . Rear Admiral Richard R. McNulty, USNR 1946–1948
  4. . Vice Admiral Gordon McLintock, USMS 1948–1970
  5. . Rear Admiral Arthur B. Engel, USCG 1970–1980
  6. . Rear Admiral Thomas A. King, USMS 1980–1987
  7. . Rear Admiral Paul L. Krinsky, USMS 1987–1993
  8. . Rear Admiral Thomas T. Matteson, USMS 1993–1998
  9. . Vice Admiral Joseph D. Stewart, USMS 1998–2008
  10. . Rear Admiral Allen B. Worley, USMS 2009–2010
  11. . Rear Admiral Philip H. Greene, Jr., USN 2010–2011
  12. . Rear Admiral James A. Helis, USMS 2012–present

Above right is the Academy photograph of Rear Admiral Richard Robert McNulty. As Commodore of the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps of the U.S. Maritime Commission from 1938-1948 and for decades prior, he advocated for creation of the Academy. The USMMA community considers McNulty to be the Academy's "father". He was the Academy's 3rd Superintendent. The letter appearing right is from the Academy's early history and accompanied the photograph. The letter from the United States Merchant Marine Academy explains how, as the Academy's 3rd Superintendent, Rear Admiral McNulty strongly supported cadet sports, especially, baseball.

Congressional Board of Visitors

In accordance with 46 USC § 51312 — A Board of Visitors to the United States Merchant Marine Academy shall be established, for a term of two years commencing at the beginning of each Congress, to visit the Academy annually on a date determined by the Secretary of Transportation and to make recommendations on the operation of the Academy.

Members of the 113th Congress

Ex officio members:

Members of the United States Senate

Members of the House of Representatives

Notable alumni

Notable non-graduates

Notable faculty

See also


  1. "New School To Train Ships Officers" Popular Science, May 1935
  2. "HugeDomains.com - MelvilleHall.com is for sale (Melville Hall)". Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  3. "NASA, Maritime Administration Announce new home for Liberty Star".
  4. 1 2 "USMMA Rechristens Training Vessel Kings Pointer".
  5. "Maybe We Should Reinvent Our Merchant Marine Fleet".
  6. "govinfo.library.unt.edu".
  7. "Rescue at Water's Edge: The U.S. Merchant Marine Response to 9/11". Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  8. Eberhart, Dave (June 19, 2006). "Bush Address at Merchant Marine Academy Historic". NewsMax.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  9. "President Delivers Commencement Address at the United States Merchant Marine Academy". 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2006-07-08.
  10. 1 2 "New Hope for Turnaround at Troubled Service Academy". New York Times. 30 Aug 2012. Retrieved 13 Sep 2012.
  11. "Department of Public Safety". USMMA. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  12. "Crime Awareness and Campus Security: Campus Crime Report". USMMA. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  13. "US MERCHANT MARINE ACADEMY (USMMA) AT KINGS POINT, NEW YORK". EduMaritime.com. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  14. http://www.usmmasports.com/general/2014-15/skyline
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal Awarded to U.S. Merchant Marine Cadets". Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  16. American Merchant Marine Museum webpage. United States Merchant Marine Academy website. Retrieved 2010-07-30.
  17. National Maritime Hall of Fame webpage. United States Merchant Marine Academy website. Retrieved 2010-07-30.

External links

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