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As Prepared: EMBARC Quarterly Meeting at USMMA

Monday, January 23, 2023






Thank you, Dr. Kumar.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today—and welcome to everyone who is here in person and everyone attending virtually.  

Thank you to Vice Admiral Nunan, our new Superintendent here at the Academy, for hosting this meeting—and thank you to everyone from the Academy who helped make this meeting possible.  

Thank you to [XXX] for joining us today. 

Let me also give a special welcome to our guests from the Coast Guard who are with us today.

•    Rear Admiral Wayne Arguin is the Coast Guard’s Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy.  Admiral Arguin sets our nation’s policies regarding safety at sea and he exercises our flag state control.  

•    Mr. Jeremy Gauthier is the Director of the Coast Guard Investigative Service.

•    Captain Jason Neubauer is the Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis.

•    And Ms. Mayte Medina is Chief of the Coast Guard’s Office of Merchant Mariner Credentials—and a Merchant Marine Academy graduate.

I also want to acknowledge the Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen who are here in the room, who are joining in our overflow room, and who are watching on-line in their dorm rooms.

Let me note that after much assessment, we believed that having Mids join from their dorms was the most efficient way of ensuring that everyone would be able to see and hear everything we discuss today at our quarterly meeting—and we look forward to the technology improvements we are working to advance! 

As you all know, during our last quarterly meeting, several participants stated that they had observed that some Academy Midshipmen reported to their Sea Year assignments without being fully versed in EMBARC.  Several of you also recommended that we hold our next quarterly meeting at the Academy—and here we are.

We want you to know we take your observations and recommendations very seriously—and we have dedicated this entire day to providing training on EMBARC to the Regiment of Midshipmen as well as to Academy faculty and staff.

We began in the morning with a session attended by all Midshipmen specifically on the EMBARC program.  We explained its key provisions and what Mids should expect to see when they report for Sea Year training to a commercial ship.  We also explained how we assess compliance.  And we explained the options available through EMBARC and the Academy for cadets to report sexual assault and harassment—and indeed any behavior that is concerning or troubling.

After lunch, Admiral Arguin and Director Gauthier discussed in detail how reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment can be made to the Coast Guard—and how the Coast Guard will investigate these reports.

Together, we also discussed the many important provisions in the Fiscal Year 2023 NDAA that strengthen our ongoing efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment, strengthen safety in the maritime industry, and support culture change across the entire merchant marine.

Specifically, I shared with our Midshipmen that EMBARC is now the law of the land and that before a carrier can train one of our Midshipmen, they must first comply with EMBARC. 

In addition, as it relates to MARAD’s Maritime Security, Tanker Security and Cable Security Fleet programs, carriers must now, by law, comply with EMBARC as a requirement of receiving funding from the Federal government, and they must make their ships available to carry Academy Midshipmen.

The National Defense Authorization Act also includes new provisions geared toward improving safety and quality of life here at the Academy.  For example, the Act requires the Academy to:

•    Create a Midshipman-staffed advisory board empowered with the authority to identify, directly to me, health and well-being, diversity, and SASH challenges at the USMMA;

•    Establish a new Sexual Assault Advisory Council to help improve the way SASH issues are addressed here at the Academy; and

•    Require the issuance of a student support plan to address mental health resources available to any Midshipmen who need them.

There are several more key provisions that fall within Coast Guard authorities that you will hear about from Admiral Arguin and Director Gauthier.

As you all know, while much work lies ahead, the past year has been a time of tremendous change—here at the Academy and throughout the industry.

There are now 14 commercial carriers operating more than 130 vessels enrolled in EMBARC and several additional applications are pending.  THANK YOU to everyone who has enrolled in EMBARC and to everyone who has worked to advance the culture change that is so critical to strengthening this vital industry.

Under the leadership of Dr. Kumar and of Captain Kutkiewicz, who heads our Office of Cadet Training At-Sea Safety, our processes and procedures for managing EMBARC are firmly in place.  

We have now conducted 9 vessel assessments, and more are planned.

And for some of you, your one-year anniversary of enrollment is at hand!

I’m also very pleased to announce that we have entered a new cooperative agreement with the Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP).  Under this agreement, SOCP will update the existing materials to reflect current best practices for responding to and preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment.  They will also work to make files easier to download and more accessible. 

Finally, as you know, Congress has provided critical support to our continuing work to improve safety.

On December 23, 2022, President Biden signed the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023.  This Act puts into law many of the measures that have been created over the past year. 

For example, the NDAA mandates that we require commercial carriers to comply with many of the standards that are set forth in EMBARC.

While we are still working to fully assess the many provisions included in the legislation related to EMBARC, I’ll emphasize that developing a final rule on EMBARC is a very high priority.

In addition, I know my Coast Guard colleagues will talk more about this—but the new law also requires certain vessels sailing under the U.S. flag to implement specific measures introduced in EMBARC regardless of whether they are enrolled in EMBARC.  

Our merchant marine is essential to our national security and our economic security, but as I know you all agree, our merchant marine must reflect the diversity of the nation it serves, and it must be a place where every American of every gender, race, color, and creed is respected, valued, and SAFE.  The legislation Congress has enacted is critical to helping us advance toward this shared goal.

With that, we will begin the quarterly meeting with your comments and observations.  

And then, in the second hour, we will welcome Admiral Arguin and Director Gauthier to highlight some of the NDAA provisions that they will be working to implement.

I’ll now turn to the Deputy Administrator, Lucinda Lessley, for any remarks she may have.