A strong maritime industry is essential for a prosperous and safe America. Our merchant mariners ensure reliable transport of essential cargo and goods. And when duty calls, their vessels do not shy away from danger.
To train and prepare the next generation of merchant mariners the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, combines an excellent academic program, a dedicated staff and faculty, and the best and brightest young students from across the nation.
And yesterday I had the privilege of presiding over the installation of the Academy's next Superintendent, Dr. James Helis. It was an inspiring ceremony to participate in, with midshipmen lined up to greet their new leader.
This is an important moment for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, the dawn of a promising new era for this storied institution. We have already made headway modernizing Kings Point. We also have a new strategic plan that will help the Academy achieve even greater success in the future. And we have a keen, well-prepared Superintendent who can take that plan and put it into action.
Dr. Helis served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, including as an Army Ranger and master parachutist, and he is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He also has the academic qualities we need. Dr. Helis is a West Point graduate and holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. And since 2004, he has served as the Chair for the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College.
Most importantly, he shares a commitment to public service.
We've made great progress at Kings Point, but we can’t rest. We need to finish our renovation of campus facilities, and we need to make the new strategic plan a reality. Dr. Helis has exactly the skills and know-how needed to lead the Academy at this crucial time.
Of course, he cannot do this job alone. Our students, our Merchant Marine, our nation--need a united Kings Point community to support Superintendent Helis's efforts as he begins his command. And I'm counting on this community to work together as a team and show America what this Academy can do.
It is my great pleasure to take an important step toward that goal by welcoming aboard Dr. James Helis as the 12th Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.