A new video sponsored by alumni of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy commemorates the 75th anniversary of the service academy, and memorializes midshipmen of the academy who have died in service to the nation.

The video is part of a summer campaign by the USMMA Alumni Association and Foundation to mark the anniversary of the King’s Point, N.Y., academy, and publicize the role it plays in national security and the U.S. economy.

“We really hope this anthemic video connects the dots for our fellow citizens,” said Capt. James Tobin, president of the USMMA-AAF, in announcing release of the video. “Throughout history, the work—and sacrifices—of our graduates in defending the nation has not been fully understood.”

The four-minute production stresses the academy’s historic role in maritime security, noting it’s founding in 1943 during World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the Merchant Marine to be “the fourth arm of our national defense.”

Proportionally the Merchant Marine suffered a higher casualty rate than the other services during the war – including 142 USMMA midshipmen who died while in training at sea.

The video also refers to concerns today over maritime and naval competition from other powers, specifically Russia and China.

Each year a class of around 950 are accepted to the academy. Midshipmen select from among five different courses of study: marine transportation; logistics and intermodal transportation; marine engineering; marine engineering systems; and marine engineering and shipyard management.

With completing additional course requirements in the sciences, mathematics, humanities, and Naval Science over four years, midshipmen earn a Bachelor of Science degree.

Graduates then must fulfill a five-year federal service obligation, and serve eight years of an armed forces reserve obligation. The five-year active duty is met by serving as officers in the Merchant Marine or other branches of the military. All graduates earn a merchant mariner’s license.

Graduates meet their five-year obligation by serving as officers in the merchant marine or, upon approval, entering active military duty.

The alumni association says its 75th anniversary campaign is “designed to remind the nation how vital the Academy is to both our national security and global commerce, and of the importance of maritime security in turbulent times.

“The campaign comes at a time when policymakers are increasingly concerned about China's massive spending on its merchant marine and the U.S.'s disconcerting shortfall of qualified, committed mariners who can serve the nation in times of crisis.”

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy video: 




Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.