USMMA class of 2017 arrives at Kings Point
Plebe candidates begin their path to leadership, service
Last week, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was proud to welcome the Class of 2017 to Kings Point, where 238 plebe candidates took their first steps toward a lifetime of leadership and service.
The new candidates make up one of the most diverse classes in Academy history, and I look forward to seeing the entire class learn, grow and serve their country.
This Academy educates and graduates merchant mariners and leaders of exemplary character who will serve America’s maritime transportation and defense needs in peace and war. Our graduates must serve five years on active-duty in the military or work in the maritime industry for five years, as well as eight years in the reserves.
Of course, our Congressionally-nominated students' commitment to service begins much earlier. On day one of the 18-day regimen of academic, military, and physical training known as Indoctrination--INDOC--they get their first military-style haircuts, change into PT gear, learn how to salute and assemble in formation, and say goodbye to their families and friends. Their commitment continues throughout the rigors of the plebe summer until Acceptance Day. Then, upon acceptance into the USMMA Regiment of Midshipmen , these young men and women are sworn into the U.S. Naval Reserve.
And all of that occurs before their first semester.
That's a significant transformation--from high school graduate to Kings Point midshipman--over a short duration. But, as Captain Jay Kennedy, our Commandant of Midshipmen told the anxious parents of the new class, “Don’t worry. We know what we’re doing.”
And we do. For decades, our graduates have been highly sought after as officers in the military and the merchant marine. They play a vital role in our nation's maritime industry, and they lead with integrity, honor, intelligence, dedication, and competence.
Preparing excellent graduates begins by enrolling the right candidates. As I told the incoming class, "You would not be here today, if you did not have what it takes to get through. Your success is our mission.”
As part of that mission, we offer them four years of rigorous academic, practical, and leadership training. But they bring plenty to the table. And, just as they have been doing since Kings Point opened its doors in 1942, our students will grow; they will persevere; and they will develop into the confident, skilled leaders America needs.
RADM James Helis is Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY.