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Government reforming marine training program after being accused of raping a 19-year-old student


The program was halted early last month, just weeks before students began their journey, when lawmakers harshly criticized the school for failing to protect students.

As part of a decision announced Wednesday, the Department of Transport and the Maritime Administration have released a long list of new safety standards that the academy (USMMA) and shipping companies must comply with. currently, said it expected to lift the suspension on December 22.

The “Sea Year”, when students are often sent in pairs to work alongside older, mostly male crew members on commercial ships, is one of the main attractions of the academy. . It provides students with real-world experience before entering the maritime industry – with many graduates going on to become engineers and leaders at shipping companies.

Among the reforms to the program, the academy said it will ensure that students are allowed to use satellite phones and satellite messaging devices to receive assistance while at sea. It also introduced a new amnesty policy that it said would protect students who report sexual assault – as well as witnesses and bystanders – from getting into trouble if the policy uses alcohol or drugs were violated at or near the time of the alleged assault.

Government suspends sea training program after university student says she and others were raped

Meanwhile, train operators must comply with more than 30 new measures before they are allowed to carry USMMA cadets. These include appointing someone in the onshore company who is specially trained with victim assistance with whom the student can be contacted and has regular contact on any matter related to assault. sexual activity and immediately report any incident to USMMA – whether or not it involves students.

This is the second time the Sea Year has been suspended in the past five years due to concerns about sexual assault and harassment. The previous program was halted in 2016 and reinstated the following year when the school pledged that new rules and a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and harassment would keep students safe. students both on campus and at sea.

    & # 39;  I was trapped & # 39 ;: The shipping giant's investigations are accused of raping a 19-year-old youth during a federal training program

But in September of this year, a student posted an anonymous account online, saying that she was raped in 2019 by her supervisor, a senior crew member while at school. on board the Maersk during Sea Year. Since returning to school, she said she has learned from nine other female students currently enrolled at the academy that they too were raped during their Year of the Sea.

As her post went viral in the USMMA community and the maritime industry, lawmakers blew up the school, Maersk suspended five crew members, both the company and the federal government began an investigation. The rape case was reported and the Department of Transportation suspended Sea Year while reviewing the program and discussing improvements.

The agency said Wednesday it hopes the latest requirements will allow Sea Year to continue in a way that helps keep students safe from sexual assault and harassment and better protects victims.

“This plan is a first step,” Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley said in the statement. “All parties are committed to continuing to review this program regularly and make improvements wherever necessary to ensure the safety and success of USMMA practitioners.”

Do you have experience or information you would like to share about the American Merchant Marine Academy or the maritime industry? Email us at watchdog@cnn.com.

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