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The United States Merchant Marine Academy (also known as USMMA or Kings Point) is one of the five United States service academies. It is charged with training officers for the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, or 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 , in which 134 lives were lost, convinced the U.S. Congress that direct Federal involvement in efficient and standardized training was needed.

Congress passed the landmark Merchant Marine Act in 1936, and two years later, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was established. The first training was given at temporary facilities until the Academy's permanent site in Kings Point, New Yorkmarker was acquired in early 1942. 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 forego 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. 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 a 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 US 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 women students, two years before the Militarymarker, Navalmarker, 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 Somaliamarker during Operation Restore Hope.

During the 1990s, the academy's future seemed to be in doubt, since its elimination was recommended by the National Performance Review efforts of the Clinton presidential Administration, whose chairman was Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.

Most recently, 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 Naval Reserve have been called 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 Lieutenant, was the first graduate to give his life for his country during a war since the Vietnam War.

Due to 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.

The American Merchant Marine Museum is located at the campus in Kings Point, New Yorkmarker.

On 19 June 2006, President George W. Bush gave the commencement address at the Academy. He was the first serving President to visit this Academy.


In addition to requiring strong GPA and SAT/ACT scores, the Academy, along with all of the other federal service academies except the United States Coast Guard Academy, requires that the candidate be nominated by a U.S. Representative or Senator.

Applicants are required to write an essay, get letters of recommendation from three sources (including one from their guidance counselor), take the DoDMERB (Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board) physical, and take a physical fitness exam called the Candidate Fitness Assessment (CFA).


The Academy is funded by the US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration and is administered by the United States Maritime Service.

The entire student body is referred to as the Regiment of Midshipmen. The Regiment is subdivided into two battalions and five companies: First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Band, with First and Second Companies making up First Battalion and Third and Fourth Companies making up Second Battalion. Company assignment is random, although candidates with musical instrument playing experience are encouraged to join Band Company.


Cadets paying a traditional visit to Amphitrite at Kings Point
Freshmen, known as plebes, start in early July where they begin a two and a half week indoctrination period, also known as "indoc." Indoc is functionally run by upperclassmen but is overseen by officers and a Master Sergeant from the U.S. Marine Corps. This high stress period involves physical training, marching, and an intensive introduction to military life at the academy. After the indoc period the academic year begins. In September, first year students officially become Midshipmen upon taking the oath of office into the U.S. Navy Reserve on Acceptance Day. Until "recognized" later in the academic year, plebes continue to be required to adhere to stringent rules affecting most aspects of their daily life.

Academy students, known as midshipmen, focus on one of two different 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.

For part of sophomore and junior year, known at the Academy as third class and second class year, students work as cadets on regular American merchant ships. Midshipmen are typically paired two to a ship, one engineering cadet and one deck cadet. Midshipmen work and function as part of the crew and gain an opportunity for generous amounts of hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to travel abroad to many different foreign ports. The average midshipman travels to 18 countries during this period, which totals a minimum of 300 days. Due to this absence from the Academy, the remaining three academic years span from late July, through mid-June.

At 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 American merchant marine officers must be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Life after graduation

Midshipmen at Kings Point have a wide variety of options upon graduation. Unlike the nation's other military 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 U.S. 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.

  • On average about 1/3 of each graduating class goes to sea working in the United States Merchant Marine as officers serving on ships in overseas trade, inland & near-coastal transportation, research vessels, and other types of vessels.

  • Another 1/3 generally go to work in the maritime industry ashore working in commercial shipping, ship broking, intermodal logistics, marine engineering, maritime law, maritime insurance or defense contracting.

A graduate from USMMA will receive upon graduation:
  • 1: A Bachelor of Science Degree
  • 2: An Unlimited USCG License as a Merchant Marine Officer, either 3rd Mate or 3rd Assistant Engineer, and
  • 3: A Commission as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy Reserve, or if accepted, as an Ensign in the US Navy, US Coast Guard or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or 2nd Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps, US Army or US Air Force. Graduates who choose military service, must serve at least five years in the active duty force of their respective service.

American Merchant Marine Museum

The USMMA in Kings Point, New Yorkmarker is also the home of the American Merchant Marine Museum. The museum houses the Academy's collection of marine 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.

The museum also houses the National Maritime Hall of Fame. 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.

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


The USMMA Mariners compete in Division III of the NCAA, as a charter member of the Landmark Conference in all sports 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. In Rugby, the USMMA competes in the MetNy Rugby Football Union where the team was first division champion from 2005-2006.

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 seven cadet/midshipmen have been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
  • Midshipman Francis A. Dales
  • Midshipman Elmer C. Donnelly
  • Midshipman Edwin Joseph O'Hara - Awarded posthumously
  • Midshipman Walter G. Sittmann
  • Midshipman William M. Thomas, Jr.
  • Midshipman Phil Cox Vannais
  • Midshipman Frederick R. Zito

Notable alumni

Notable graduates

  • Robert Riger, Nine time Emmy Award-winning cinematographer, Sports Photographer, and Illustrator. NOTE: Sources all say "attended", not graduated. Not sure if he graduated or is a non-graduate. They also say he served 3 years during WWII. If a grad, he should have been class of 45 or 46.

Notable non-graduates

Notable faculty


  1. Captain James Harvey Tomb, USN 1942-?
  2. Rear Admiral Giles C. Stedman, USNR
  3. Rear Admiral Richard R. McNulty, USNR
  4. Vice Admiral Gordon McLintock, USMS
  5. Rear Admiral Arthur B. Engel, USCG
  6. Rear Admiral Thomas A. King, USMS
  7. Rear Admiral Paul L. Krinsky, USMS
  8. Rear Admiral Thomas T. Matteson, USMS
  9. Vice Admiral Joseph D. Stewart, USMS 1997-2008
  10. Rear Admiral Allen B. Worley, USMS 2008-current

See also


  1. Midshipman Francis A. Dales
  2. Midshipman Elmer C. Donnelly
  3. Midshipman Edwin Joseph O'Hara
  4. Midshipman Walter G. Sittmann
  5. Midshipman William M. Thomas, Jr.
  6. Midshipman Phil Cox Vannais
  7. Midshipman Frederick R. Zito

External links

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