USMMA admits highest percentage of women in academy

United State Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point (USMMA) has indoctrinated its class of 2019, consisting of 255 plebe candidates representing 46 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

With 50 female candidates, the incoming class has the highest percentage of young women to enter the Academy in its history.

Upon arrival, the future midshipmen began a rigorous, 20-day regimen of academic, military, and physical training known as Indoctrination, which will transform them from recent high school graduates into future leaders and licensed maritime officers.

“The members of this incoming class represent some of our nation’s best and brightest, with almost a third having graduated in the top 10% of their class,” said Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Superintendent.

Noting that female enrolment for was at a record 20%, he said, “We are very pleased that so many young women are bringing their talents and experiences to the Regiment of Midshipmen.”

During their first day of “Indoctrination,” also known as INDOC, plebe candidates were issued uniforms, received their first regulation haircut, and formed on Barney Square as companies for the first time.  During formation, the Deputy Maritime Administrator, Michael Rodriguez greeted the candidates and their families.  Rodriguez said, “There are a number of challenges that face our country, many of which we may not even see. They [the Class of 2019] will be expected to come up with solutions to technical issues, operational issues and policy issues. I’m looking forward to the outcome of their work.”

Upon graduation USMMA midshipmen will receive a Bachelor of Science Degree and a United States Coast Guard issued Merchant Marine Officer License, and a commission as an officer in one of the Armed Forces.

Meanwhile, the Class of 2019 was introduced to The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) Honor System.

Managed by the Regimental Honor Board and enforced by the Regiment of Midshipmen, it is one of the most significant traditions of USMMA.  Superintendent, Rear Admiral James A. Helis, Ph.D., said, “Leadership and service both have honor as a core component.

These fundamental principles are central to the Academy experience, and the formal introduction to the Honor System is a culminating element of our plebe candidates’ indoctrination.”

The Academy’s plebe candidates attended classes that introduced the concept of honor and explained how the Honor System is relevant in their lives as future midshipmen.

They became familiar with the rules and procedures of the Honor System including participation in a mock trial that allowed plebe candidates to envision a process in which an individual accused of an honor violation is judged by nine-person jury comprised of five classmates and four midshipmen officers.


Captain Reed Bonadonna, Ph.D., Director of Ethics, explained, “Honor is a matter of shared values among peers.  The Academy Honor System reflects this by giving the midshipmen considerable responsibility and authority in the honor process, probably more than they exercise in any other aspect of Academy life.

The injunction of the Honor Code is meant to be an introduction to the larger ethical and professional obligations that they will assume as graduates.”

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