The press has reported an ongoing existential debate as to the US Merchant Marine Academy. Recently, there seems to have been a focus on matters of leadership and the necessity to train students at the Academy in that art – both in definition and practice.
The Kings Point debate is necessary and indeed healthy. It will bring about a much stronger school. However, the debate is not new. We must remember that the first inklings of the confusion in the government about the training of merchant shipping people arose in the Grant administration when money was set aside for the US Navy to provide us with their version of training in proper seamanship and in vessel operations. How quickly we – and they – forget. The US Navy-sainted John Paul Jones was a pretty competent commercial shipmaster fewer than one hundred years before the training concept was funded and before he put on the RN-copied uniform and his silly two-ended hat. But that is another story.
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