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State Maritime Academies Urge Action on Sexual Assault in the Maritime Industry

CASTINE – Maine Maritime Academy President William J. Brennan joined state maritime academy presidents in signing a letter to the acting administrator of MARAD (the Maritime Administration, an agency of the Department of Transportation) condemning acts of sexual assault and harassment in the maritime industry. In doing so they also articulated their unequivocal support for survivors. The presidents asked MARAD to work with them to support systemic change around the issue of sexual assault in the maritime industry.

The full text of the letter is included below:

October 14, 2021

Ms. Lucinda Lessley
Acting Administrator
U.S. Maritime Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Administrator Lessley:

We write to you today on the subject of the recently reported sexual assault of a USMMA cadet while onboard her sea-year assignment. On behalf of the State Maritime Academies, we condemn the behaviors reported in this incident, and we stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of sexual assault in the maritime industry and beyond. Further, we fully acknowledge that this incident is not a single academy incident, nor is it a single shipping company incident, nor a single shipping union incident. This is a matter for the entire maritime industry to take action against immediately.

Our nation’s maritime academies – federal and state – are deeply committed to working with the entire maritime industry to actively address sexual harassment and assault. We all have much work to do to fully address and implement the systemic changes necessary to create change within our maritime culture. We stand ready to join our industry partners in a dialogue about how we can best work together to proactively educate about and prevent sexual harassment, violence, and assault in the maritime industry. We urge the US Maritime Administration to take the lead on this matter and offer our full support to be part of the solution. We look forward to hearing from you on next steps in this important matter.


RADM William J. Brennan, Ph.D.
Maine Maritime Academy
Castine, ME

RADM Gerard P. Achenbach, Ed.D.
Great Lakes Maritime Academy
Traverse City, MI

RADM Michael A. Alfultis, USMS, Ph.D.
State University of New York Maritime College
Bronx, NY

RADM Thomas A. Cropper
California State University Maritime Academy
Vallejo, CA

RADM Francis X. McDonald, LPD
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, MA

RADM Michael Fossum
Chief Operating Officer
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Galveston, TX

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