The extraordinary men and women serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine are an asset to our nation, and we at DOT could not be more proud of them.
On Monday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, held commencement exercises to celebrate the class of 2011. This year, Maritime Administrator David Matsuda had the privilege of welcoming our 205 graduating midshipmen to the ranks of the proud, talented, and courageous men and women who serve in America's maritime industry.
It was a fine day at Kings Point befitting the bright prospects of these young mariners. The quad was filled with families and friends who gathered to share commencement weekend festivities with their cadets and send them off proudly to their new careers.
The nation's economic and security needs that are met by the U.S. Merchant Marines are compelling. The Academy prepares its graduates to operate the best commercial fleet in the world and support our national defense at a moment's notice.
Many of the graduates will leave campus to enter active duty as commissioned military officers. Others will serve aboard U.S. flag vessels or in other maritime industry roles. Still others will serve in government.
As Administrator Matsuda told the graduates, "Each American generation has been led by men and women with special hearts and minds who take us fearlessly to brighter days. You are your generation's leaders."
No matter which direction they head in the months and years to come, I am confident that they will be a vital part of our national security and economic well-being.
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.