The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2013 began their time at Kings Point in the summer of 2009. Earlier that year, I began my time at the U.S. Department of Transportation. And although I have not traveled the world by sea as they have, in many ways we have journeyed together these past four years.
We all came to Kings Point for the first time in 2009. I was still a new secretary—getting to know the families and faculty that make the Academy strong. The men and women of the Class of 2013 were fresh plebe candidates—getting used to their military haircuts and embarking on their journey to leadership.
So it was a particularly great pleasure to attend yesterday's Academy commencement, celebrate the achievements of these 201 fine men and women, and wish them well as they begin their careers as maritime leaders.
More than 2,000 people gathered for this momentous event including Superintendent RADM James Helis; Deputy Superintendent Capt. Susan Dunlap; commencement speaker Gen. William Fraser, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command; parents, friends, and other family members; and, of course, the graduates themselves--all of whom know that a strong maritime industry is essential for a prosperous and safe America.