A female cadet from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by an engineering supervisor during her Sea Year training in an account submitted to Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy.
The cadet, whose name was not disclosed in the account, said she was a 19-year-old virgin at the time of the alleged incident when she was assaulted by the 60-year-old supervisor, whose name was also not disclosed. The supervisor who raped her, she said, made derogatory comments to her and other women on the ship.
“He was creepy, made romantic passes at me, and made crude and demeaning comments about me in front of other members of the engine department,” the account read. “It was a difficult work environment, to say the least, and not what I had expected Sea Year to be like.”
After around 50 days at sea, the ship pulled into a Middle East port where the officers purchased “a lot of alcohol,” according to the cadet. She said she was pressured to drink alcohol by older men and supervisors on the ship.
The cadet said her male sea partner enjoyed drinking and she felt additional pressure to fit in, despite not having had any alcohol prior to arriving at the academy.
“As soon as I arrived the engineers began forcing shots of liquor on me and my sea partner,” she said. “They were like animals, drinking straight out of the bottles of liquor, doing shot after shot, being extremely annoying, yelling and laughing and making a lot of noise, and practically shoving shots down our throats.”
As she continued drinking, the cadet said, her sea partner became sick and was taken back to his room. The cadet said she blacked out shortly after, taking roughly another 8 to 10 shots of alcohol. The next morning, she woke up naked in her bed with a massive hangover and noticed blood on her sheets.
“I knew immediately that I had been raped,” the cadet said. “I was a virgin and had been saving myself, and as soon as I woke up I could feel that I was very sore and knew exactly what had happened.”
The cadet said she had glimpses of recollection from the time she was blacked out, including the engineering supervisor on top of her and forcing her to kiss him and perform oral sex. She said the supervisor denied the incident and told her “no one is ever going to believe you.”
The cadet, now a senior, said out of the 50 women in her class, she knows of at least five that were raped during their Sea Year.
Merchant Marine Academy Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg and Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley said in a statement that the cadet has their “unwavering support” and that while resources are provided by the academy after these events occur, it is important to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
“We have a zero-tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment at USMMA and in the maritime industry,” the statement read. “As we determine the appropriate steps required to increase and ensure the safety of our midshipmen, we pledge to listen to and work closely with the entire Kings Point community.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also released a joint statement saying that steps need to be taken to not have any more incidents of sexual assault or harassment while cadets receive their training.
“We must ensure that incidents of sexual harassment and assault are reported and prioritized, and that every single cadet feels safe whether on campus or at sea,” the statement read. “We will continue to work closely with the Merchant Marine Academy to put systems in place to ensure timely and thorough reporting.”
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NIMASA set to open Lokoja office to harness waterways resources
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has disclosed that the Agency is set to reopen the Lokoja office, as part of efforts towards harnessing the Blue Economy, enhancing collaboration, while also promoting Research and Development.
The DG, who made this known when he played host to the Executive Secretary of the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (KADSEMA), Mal. Usman Hayatu Mazadu at the head office of the Agency in Lagos, noted that investment in research would play a major role in ensuring the harnessing of Nigeria’s maritime potentials.
“The key cardinal principle of opening the NIMASA Lokoja office is to improve on Research and Development.
He said, “Now, the Blue Economy has come to stay and very soon you will see the impact of what we have; in terms of the gains and benefits to grow our Gross Domestic Product while improving the well-being of our own Economy”.
Earlier in his remarks, Mallam Usman of KADSEMA lauded the Agency for the feat achieved so far, which cuts across the entire Nigeria.
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