Our economy relies on our ability to transport goods and people safely and effectively, and ships have a vital role to play in that. Whether we're talking about oceans, rivers, America's Marine Highways, or the St. Lawrence Seaway, we need a well-trained merchant marine to keep our economy moving. And, in times of war or national emergencies, it’s essential that the United States have a fleet available to support our armed forces.
That’s why I have so much respect for the United States Merchant Marine Academy and why I'm especially pleased to welcome the Academy's newest cadets to Kings Point. Last week, the Class of 2015 reported to the Academy for induction. The fine young men and women experiencing their Plebe Summer today will become the capable leaders of America's maritime industry tomorrow.
Unlike many first-time college students, they did not drag everything but the kitchen sink along with them. Kings Point is a service academy, and students are only allowed to bring one duffel bag.
After dropping their gear, the first stop was the gym, where students moved from station to station, culminating in some basic drill instruction.
Then, they were measured for uniforms, traded their duffels for foot lockers, and sat down for the traditional haircut.
After that, the newly shorn cadets bid their families one final goodbye and begin their formal training.
Following the two weeks of training, classes begin, and these young mariners are ready to embark on a four year journey of physical training, classroom and hands-on education, and leadership development. I trust that Superintendent RADM Philip Greene and his staff will help the students learn everything they need to know about how the U.S. Merchant Marine maintains America's economic and security needs.
I wish the Class of 2015 the best during their years at Kings Point, and I thank them for their service. Welcome aboard!