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FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2019


Good morning. Thank you, Dr. Hoffman for that kind introduction. It’s great to be with you on this fine maritime morning!


Chancellor Johnson, a pleasure to share the dais with you, ma’am.


Admiral Alfultis, always a pleasure to visit your command, sir!


Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you greetings from our Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and everyone at the Department and in the Maritime Administration. The Secretary and I, and all of the folks back in Washington congratulate you graduates on the hard work that brought you here today. 


Special greetings to all the moms and dads, families and friends who came from far and wide to witness this historic event. Thank you for the awesome job you did to get your young mariner to this day. So congratulations to you, too. 


As someone who fell in love with the sea at a very young age, I can’t tell you how great it is for me to look out upon a class of new mariners who share that same devotion to seafaring!


Whether you choose to enter our armed forces and sail for the “gray funnel line,” to sail in Jones Act domestic trade, or internationally, you’re helping strengthen America because—as our founders knew—maritime strength is essential for both our economic and national security.


You will be putting to sea at a time of great challenge… and change. We have the perfect metaphor for that change right here in the empire state 6.


Your ship has served Suny Maritime well, and still needs to for a few more years yet.  But she is the sister of the first ship I went to sea on – the Mormacsaga – when I was a cadet at Kings Point more than 40 years ago! She’s the product of the first industrial age: steam, cargo booms, manual systems, vacuum tube technology.


It is time to prepare our mariners for the times that are upon us: the fourth industrial age with highly automated digital systems, precision navigation, and energy efficient propulsion sources.


That’s why we have a new training ship headed your way—the national security multi-mission vessel or NSMV. SUNY gets the lead ship. It’s fully funded, and we expect to award the vessel construction manager contract in just a few weeks. Your shipmates up the coast in Buzzards Bay at Mass Maritime get the second ship, and congress is working with us on replacing the remaining ships.


If all goes well, we expect the delivery of the first new vessel in time for the 2023 training cruise here at SUNY. Some of you will likely be back here to crew that ship for Captain McManus and train the next crop of young mariners. How great will that be?


I’d like to take a moment to recognize and honor the SUNY faculty and staff who invested their time and their experience to make sure that you are joining the industry well prepared to execute your duties afloat. They are dedicated professionals. Please give them a round of applause - they are so proud of you!


Ok: because old admirals love to give advice, I’m going to give you some….hopefully something that’s useful and you’ll remember!  


Where are my engineers? Alright pay attention here: you can take this one to the bank: keep the oil and fuel on the inside of the pipes; if you see it on the outside, something’s wrong—fix it!  It does not belong in a puddle in the bilge—or over the side!

Deckies: as a lifelong ship driver, my simple advice to you is this: when in doubt, keep the ship in the white part of the chart—no captain likes scratches on their bottom paint.


I wish you all the very the best. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this important day in your lives. Sail safe, carry on!

Updated: Thursday, May 23, 2019