The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy graduated 214 new officers in its Class of 2024 commencement ceremony June 22 at Kings Point, N.Y., attended by a crowd of more than 3,000, including graduates, family members, and representatives from the federal government, U.S. military, and maritime industry.

The keynote speaker, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, told the graduates, “As soon-to-be ensigns and second lieutenants, assistant engineers, and third mates, you will crew ships that are essential to our Nation’s security. You’ll spend a large part of your life at sea so your fellow Americans can live safely at home.”

In the Atlantic, earlier USMMA graduates “are making sure that ammunition reaches Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their freedom. In the Pacific, you are deterring aggression and upholding freedom of navigation,” said Sullivan. “In the Red Sea…you’re facing down unprecedented attacks against international trade in one of the most vital waterways in the world. At ports, on decks, and in engine rooms around the globe, the Blue and Gray help keep our people safe and our country strong.”

USMMA Superintendent Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan, USMS, addressed the “Covid kids,” the Class that arrived at the height of the pandemic.

“Somehow, you kept your faith in Kings Point’s promise that the world would open to you,” said Nunan. “Class of 2024, you were always determined, a breed apart, the essence of Acta non Verba!” 

Navy Rear Adm. Dianna Wolfson, the director of fleet maintenance at U.S. Fleet Forces Command and a distinguished alumna of USMMA’s Class of ’96, told the 2024 class: “We stand at a pivotal moment today, facing formidable challenges on the horizon but I have every confidence that the men and women graduating here today are not just equipped to face these challenges, but to conquer them."

Marine Corps Commandant General Eric M. Smith administered the commissioning oath and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael E. Platt, commander of the First Coast Guard District, administered the Merchant Mariner Oath.

Fifty-six graduates were sworn in as active-duty officers in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The remaining graduates will serve as Navy reservists in the Strategic Sealift Officer Program while working as USCG-Licensed Mariners aboard deep-sea vessels, offshore supply vessels, tugs, and towing vessels. 

"The presence of the National Security Advisor and the Commandant of the Marine Corps was not just an honor but a testament to the critical role the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy plays in protecting our nation," Admiral Nunan said after the ceremony concluded. "Their participation added overwhelming excitement and pride among the graduates and their families and was matched only by the enjoyment they showed in joining us.”

Each congressionally nominated graduate received a Bachelor of Science Degree and an unlimited Merchant Marine Officer license from the Coast Guard, and an officer’s commission in the Navy or other branch of the military. In exchange for their education, each has the option of serving as a Merchant Marine Officer while concurrently serving in any branch of the U.S. military in the reserves or serving five years of active duty. USMMA graduates ensure a steady stream of Merchant Marine Officers who support the Nation’s economic and security requirements in times of peace and war.