Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh Stately Strife Born Alma Mater, My Heart Cries For Thee This Day ...

Fellow USMMA alumni, family and friends, as all probably know once again this day, the ship that is the USMMA is once again under the interim direction of Academic Dean and Acting Superintendent Captain Sashi Kumar, USMS.

Here are some compiled notes, etc. at the close of one of the Academy’s worst weeks, provided by Captain Scott O'Conner KP '83, President of the Jacksonville Alumni chapter and father to a recent graduate and current member of the regiment of midshipmen as well as husband of Glenda Marerum O'Conner KP'85. Captain O'Conner posted this on the USMMA Class of 1983 Facebook page and I repost it here as I believe it is better written, less emotional, and more objective than I am capable of being on this subject at this time....

"Superintendent’s Reassignment Highlights Disarray

The news of the reassignment of RADM Philip Greene ’78 from his position as USMMA Superintendent has reverberated throughout the maritime community since last Tuesday and threw a pall across the campus during last weekend’s Homecoming celebration. The football team’s loss to Rochester paled in comparison. The highlight of the weekend may have been the game’s coin toss by Merchant Marine alumnus and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (Class of '86), accompanied by his wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The repercussions of that removal by Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood has left most in the community stunned.

In the interim Dr. Sashi Kumar, the Academy Dean, has been appointed Acting Superintendent. Dr. Kumar has been in this same position twice before and capably steered the Academy through previous storms. This one is particularly intense. Acting Superintendent Kumar has been quoted saying, “ Rest assured, the ship (Kings Point) will be safe and stable regardless of the externalities. We will continue to provide the best education and support services possible.”

This is the very present bottom line but there are extraordinarily large questions that remain. Addressing infrastucture problems, physical plant and otherwise, that exist at the Academy merit the full support of our Alumni community. The Academy’s function and purpose needs to be reanalyzed and defined. It needs to incorporate a measure of nimbleness to be able to answer the needs of industry and government. It needs to be administered efficiently in a way that had only started to take hold under Phil Greene. This movement has grown out of MARAD’s own 2010 Blue Ribbon Panel Report. Its very first recommendation had been to develop a Strategic Plan for the Academy, taking it into the future. (click on this link to find the report at MARAD’s website).

Admiral Greene took his position fully cognizant of this report and was working very hard to get “everyone on the bus” to take the Academy where this report stated it needed to go. Toward that end the Academy Alumni Foundation offered to fund and develop a Strategic Plan in full compliance and coordination with the Academy. The work was to be provided at approximately half the commercial cost, valued at $1 million. The gift offer has been declined. Instead, an RFP went out from MARAD for this same work. On the heels of RADM Greene’s reassignment. The Foundation is completely baffled but is totally committed to its mission of supporting the Academy and its Regiment of Midshipmen.

MARAD’s is accused of being inept with its recent track record of Academy oversight.
Here is a short litany of current problems as seen by many.

MARAD micromanages operational control over all matters dealing with finance, legal and personnel. No chief executive (i.e., Superintendent) could reasonably manage any organization lacking control over these key functions—then also be held accountable.
MARAD refuses to get legislative or regulatory authority for the Academy that the
other federal academies possess. This is a vital portion of the sister academies’
successes in obtaining both private and public funding.
MARAD’s ineptness includes the inability to hire Academy faculty and staff and
procure textbooks and uniforms in a timely manner.
MARAD’s process for receiving gifts to the Academy is so muddled that gifts are delayed for months to the detriment of Academy educational programs. The Academy’s donor base validly complains when the activities they support do not get funded on a timely basis.
Absurdly, MARAD has ruled that Kings Point is prohibited from selling tickets to
sports events – the only college on the planet that doesn’t - losing even this limited funding source.
MARAD is short-sighted in its management processes, subject to political whims and petty grievances.

There is careful orchestration being carried out to take the message inside this Administration and Congress. With the astounding removal of our fellow Kings Pointer, Phil Greene, from the helm of the Academy contact your Congressional representatives and expressing your displeasure with the whole situation. Here’s the info you may need:


--When? 2011 Leg. Sessions:, Congressmen have a Constituent Work Week Oct 17-21. Pay a personal visit if you can. Best to visit with Rep at local offices in your district. Take a friend.

Your grass roots efforts are needed and invited!!

Recent postings on blogs, etc. related to these recent events:

1. From KPA-CPA website: The "change in leadership" announced at the Academy on Tuesday 101111 is extremely unfortunate for Kings Point. Rear Admiral Philip H. Greene, JR (KP '78) has provided an extraordinary effort to effect positive change for the present, and the future, of our alma mater. He has provided his tremendous leadership under very difficult and often uncooperative circumstances, and effected structure and progress to the Academy. His appointment away from the Academy was in no way his choice, or a positive move for Kings Point. Rear Admiral Greene has the utmost respect of the entire Regiment of Midshipmen. The Midshipmen are, once again "the affected consequence", of administrative decisions beyond the Academy.

This is a challenging time for the U.S. Maritime Industry, and a most difficult time for Kings Point. The Kings Point Alumni are at a critical point in our progress, which will require profound action on behalf of our Alma Mater. The KP Alumni - Chapter Presidents Alliance and the USMMA Alumni Foundation are working as one team, and speaking with one voice, and are providing a unified effort for the Academy. All KP Alumni are welcome and encouraged to support this effort - NOW!

The KPA-CPA hosted an "All Hands" Communcation Forum on Wednesday October 12, 2011. This Conference Call was attended by over 200 registered callers, in support of Rear Admiral Greene '78! The attendees sounded a common message of support for KP Alumni action on behalf of Admiral Greene and the Academy. It was quite apparent that the outrage, anger and frustration will indeed provide the passion for the unified action required on behalf of the Academy.

One midshipman was quoted as saying "In my 4 years at Kings Point, I have never seen the Alumni so upset, or so involved in any issue, as they now are!"

2. View the support provided by our Midshipmen to Admiral & Debby Greene: USMMA Regiment's Farewell to Admiral Greene & Response 101211 VIDEO This video is especially good.

3. Fast Lane March 03, 2011 The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Introducing RADM Philip H. Greene, USMS - Superintendent, US Merchant Marine Academy"It is truly a privilege to introduce RADM Philip H. Greene, USMS, who was sworn in last September as the Superintendent of the US Merchant Marine Academy, in Kings Point, NY....... I've never met anyone as devoted to the Academy as RADM Greene...The new Superintendent really gets it.... I'm pleased that RADM Greene has made raising the Academy's profile a top goal. By all accounts, he already seems to have had considerable success. Alumni have welcomed the return of one of their own. Faculty have cheered his emphasis on academic excellence. And the Regiment of Midshipmen knows his efforts will only increase the value of their years at Kings Point. I can assure you, Superintendent Greene certainly has my attention." Fast Lane >>June 22, 2011 The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Merchant Marine Academy class of 2011: Their generation's leaders"Congratulations to RADM Philip Greene on his first academic year leading this fine institution, and congratulations to the class of 2011. I am confident that you will all provide outstanding service to the U.S. Merchant Marine and to our nation."

4. Fast Lane September 15, 2011 The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Secretaries' Cup back on Kings Point campus

"..... I hope that Superintendent RADM Philip Greene and the rest of the Mariner community know that I’m extremely proud of everyone at Kings Point, not just the athletes. Our nation has relied on capable merchant mariners for years to keep America strong and secure, and I am confident that these young men and women will leave the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy well-equipped to handle the 21st century challenges of maritime service."

5. Maritime Memos THE MARAD MELTDOWN - I'm told that SECDOT has received so many complaints about the MARAD triad - Matsuda, Gotay and Krepp - that they actually hired an "executive coach" to help them improve their management techniques, but Matsuda refused to meet this person. (Is Matsuda related to Charlie Sheen?) Why hasn't he been fired? Where's John Graykowski when we need him? October 14, 2011.MORE ON THE USMMA SITUATION - It seems clear that Admiral Greene was finding it impossible to work with Matsuda and Gotay, which is entirely understandable, seeing that that's the experience of many in the maritime industry. Read the view from the Alumni here - So, how come it was the admiral who got reassigned and not the nitwit Matsuda? KPers should be outraged and should let LaHood know that they are outraged. October 13, 2011.KINGS POINT SUPERINTENDENT REASSIGNED - Rumors were flying this morning about the sudden departure of Rear Admiral Philip H. Greene, Jr., USMS, who has been Superintendent of the US Merchant Marine Academy for only just over a year. SECDOT has now announced that Admiral Greene has been appointed to the DoT Chair at the National Defense University. Feedback from the Alumni Association says that this move was a reassignment and not Admiral Greene's decision, i.e., he didn't quit, he was pushed, so rumors continue to fly. October 11, 2011, amended later the same day.

6. You can participate in a Kings Point Alumni Action Forum in November - on behalf of the future of the Academy.


KP Chesapeake Veterans Day Dinner THU 111011 - “Honoring All Who Served” highlighted by a Kings Point Tribute to VADM Albert J. Herberger, USN (Ret.) (KP '55)

and KP Alumni Global Leadership Conference FRI 111111 - A Communication Forum attended by the KPA-CPA, the USMMA Alumni Foundation, and all Kings Point Alumni.

at the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies / Conference Center, Linthicum Heights (Baltimore), MD

A KP Alumni Acta Non Verba Plan 2011 will be assembled from the discussions held, and ideas generated at this Conference. Complete details and registration - including overnight accommodations - for both events posted. Visit our web site Veterans Day Dinner 111011 & Conference 111111 page



You can also take action with a phone call to the White House. Leave a message expressing your displeasure. Call 202-456-1111. A real person will answer and your message will be heard.

USMMA: Red Sky in the Morning
Accountable for the oversight and administration of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), in May 2009, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary, Ray LaHood directed the Maritime Administration to convene an independent “Blue Ribbon” advisory panel of senior executives to “put a...""

Friday, January 21, 2011

Latest "Good News" Relative to Somali Based Piracy

S. Korea navy 'kills Somali pirates, saves crew'

by Park Chan-Kyong – 1/21/2011

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean navy commandos on Friday stormed a ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, rescuing all the 21 crew and killing eight pirates, military officials said.

The SEAL special forces boarded the South Korean ship before dawn, freeing all the hostages and killing the pirates in cabin-to-cabin battles, they said. Five other pirates were captured.

"This operation demonstrated our government's strong will that we won't tolerate illegal activities by pirates any more," Lieutenant-General Lee Sung-Ho of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a news briefing. The South Korean skipper of the chemical freighter suffered a gunshot wound to his stomach during the raid but his condition is not life-threatening, the military said. No commandos were hurt. The rescue about 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) off northeast Somalia was seen as a major morale boost for the South's military. It has faced strong domestic criticism for a perceived weak response to North Korea's shelling of a border island last November. President Lee Myung-Bak, who authorised the operation, said the military carried out the raid perfectly under difficult circumstances. "We will not tolerate any activities that threaten the safety and lives of our people," he said.

The pirates seized the 11,500-ton ship and 21 crew members -- eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 from Myanmar -- on January 15 in the Arabian Sea when it was en route to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates. Seoul ordered a destroyer on patrol in the Gulf of Aden to give chase and President Lee ordered "all possible measures" to save the crew. General Lee said the commandos moved in after receiving information that the "mother ship" for the pirates was leaving a Somali port. "Since we thought we could be in an extremely difficult situation if the pirates joined forces, we chose today to carry out the operation."
Lee praised the freighter's 57-year-old skipper Suk Hae-Kyun for his prudence. "Pirates sought to take the vessel to the Somalian coast fast but the skipper helped us earn time by manoeuvring the vessel in a serpentine manner." To distract the pirates' attention, the destroyer fired warning shots and manoeuvred close to the hijacked vessel. A Lynx helicopter provided covering fire as the commandos stormed the ship.

The Koreans were assisted by a US carrier which also provided a helicopter to transfer the wounded Korean skipper. "It was breathtaking news," said Suk Hyun-Wook, son of the 58-year-old skipper, describing his response to reports of the raid. Kim Doo-Chan, 61, was also among the rescued crew. "I feel so relieved," his 28-year-old son Dong-Min told Yonhap news agency. "I'm ecstatic."

The military said Friday's rescue followed a brief gunbattle Tuesday, when the destroyer encountered pirates who had apparently left the South Korean freighter to try to seize a nearby Mongolian vessel.
The South Korean commandos aboard a speedboat and a Lynx helicopter were dispatched to rescue the Mongolian ship. Tuesday's firefight left several pirates missing and believed killed, although their bodies have not been found, a JCS spokesmen said. Three commandos were slightly hurt.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan broke the news at a New Year's reception Friday for the heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Seoul, bringing applause and cheers from the ambassadors, a foreign ministry official said. The captured five pirates could be brought to South Korea or third countries for punishment, he said. The hijacking came two months after a supertanker belonging to the same company, Samho Shipping, was released after being held for seven months. The 300,000-tonne Samho Dream and its 24 crew were freed only after the pirates were paid a ransom reported as a record $9 million.

Piracy has surged off lawless Somalia in recent years, and international warships patrol the area in a bid to clamp down on the problem. Pirates are currently holding 29 vessels and about 700 hostages.

In 2008 the French military became the first to respond militarily to piracy in the region, when marines raided the yacht Carre d'As and freed two hostages being held by seven Somali pirates. One pirate was killed and the other six captured. In one of the most controversial rescues, Russian marines freed 23 crew barricaded on board a Russian tanker, the Moscow University. The pirates were later found dead and adrift in a small boat.