THE NEW YORK CHAPTER of the Alumni Association of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy did something unusual last week for which it should be commended. At its January luncheon, it invited the various East Coast journalists who report on the maritime industry.

Nearly 30 journalists showed up in a snow storm, one coming from as far away as Jacksonville, Fla., demonstrating an interest in the industry that surprised the journalists themselves. We have felt that part of the problem of the industry is a lack of interaction with the working press.Among those speaking were representatives of The Journal of Commerce. At the conclusion of their remarks they made some predictions, which might be of interest.

Don C. Becker, publisher and president: Profits of shipping lines will improve in 1987; the U.S. trade deficit will decline; Congress will pass a trade bill this year; President Reagan will be able to put Irangate behind him; and, the federal budget deficit will decline.

Stanford Erickson, executive editor: We will see fewer state maritime academies in the next few years; Elizabeth Hanford Dole will retire as Department of Transportation Secretary within six months to work on her husband's presidential campaign; her replacement will be John Gaughan, head of the Maritime Administration.

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