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Merchant Marines Information

    Importance

    • The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is keen to emphasize the importance of the Merchant Marine fleet to the nation by stating that 85 percent of 77 strategic commodities, critical to America's industry and defense, are imported from other countries, the vast majority by merchant vessels. These vessels do not operate in isolation, and numerous other service providers are required to keep the fleet operational, such as ports, repair facilities, insurers, engineers and attorneys, through to cleaners and caterers.

    Academy

    • The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, at Kings Point, Long Island, New York, exists to educate candidates to pursue maritime careers, civilian and military. Each year 275 American citizens, between the ages of 17 and 25 are admitted to the Academy. Candidates must be nominated to the Academy by a U.S. Representative or Senator from their home state or territory.

    Program

    • Operated by the Federal Government's Maritime Administration, the four-year program at the Academy centers on a regimental system that physically and intellectually challenges its candidates, known as midshipmen, and teaches them wide-ranging skills, including marine transportation, navigation, logistics, engineering systems, nautical science and business management. During the course of their studies, midshipmen will also take comprehensive U.S. Coast Guard examinations to gain licenses as merchant marine officers.

    Earnings

    • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings vary widely with the particular maritime position and the worker's experience and are higher than most other occupations with similar educational requirements. In May 2008, the median annual wage for a sailor was $34,390.

    World War II

    • During World War II, Merchant Marine vessels were vital in maintaining imports into the United States and supporting military efforts. According to the War Shipping Administration, a total of 1,554 ships were sunk due to war conditions, including 733 ships of over 1,000 gross tons. Hundreds of other ships were damaged by torpedoes, shelling, bombs, kamikaze pilots and mines.

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