As a member of the Advisory Board to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy since 1995, I was startled to read the erroneous statement made by Thomas C. Fitzhugh concerning the alleged near loss of academic accreditation at Kings Point (JoC Week, December 18-24, 2000). Nothing could be farther from reality.

Since initial accreditation 50 years ago, re-accreditation has never been in jeopardy. The last evaluation visit by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in March 1996 was a success. The report issued last month following the mid-point evaluation of the 10-year review cycle that took place recently was fully accepted by Middle States.

Following the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology evaluation visit in October 1999, the Engineering Systems Program was re-accredited for the maximum period of six years, and the new Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management Program was fully accepted. Acta non verba.

George J. Ryan


Lake Carriers Association, Cleveland

Kings Point Class of 1957


Thomas C. Fitzhugh's negative response (JoC Week, December 18-24, 2000) to your recent editorial about the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is totally off base.

He's wrong when he says that Kings Point graduates have no service obligation. They are required by law to serve five years in the maritime field, to keep their licenses current for 10 years, and to serve in the U.S. Naval Reserve for eight years.

He's wrong when he says that the academy 'nearly lost its academic certification in the recent past.'

In fact, just last November, Kings Point passed its Periodic Review by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education with flying colors.

He's wrong when he calls the academy 'outdated.' Not only do Kings Point's professional courses meet all new STCW standards, but it has also introduced cutting-edge programs in Shipyard Management and in Logistics and Intermodal Transportation in recent years.

Yes, the state-run merchant marine programs are fine, as Fitzhugh contends, but let's not praise them by denegrating Kings Point's top-notch curriculum.

Martin P. Skrocki

Public information officer

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

The December 18-24, 2000 issue of JoC Week carried a letter written by Thomas C. Fitzhugh III of Houston, Texas, commenting in a very negative way about the United States Merchant Marine Academy. It seems that there is no end to the partial truths and even outright lies that keep being circulated about Kings Point.

Fitzhugh's statement 'there is no requirement that its graduates actually work as merchant mariners' is not true. All graduates have a five-year obligation to serve in one of the following fields of endeavor: aboard ship, active duty military, in the NOAA, in the Coast Guard or in the maritime industry. Kings Pointers have been fulfilling their obligations admirably.

Fitzhugh's comment about Kings Point's 'dirty little secret' in maintaining its good academic certification is not only disingenuous but borders on slander. The fact is that Kings Point has maintained its academic accreditation. Kings Point's engineering program is still one of the best in the world. After rereading Fitzhugh's letter many times, it almost seems that he is upset that he wasn't able to attend Kings Point himself.

Patrick C. Hall

Senior vice president

Cooper/T. Smith Stevedoring Co.

Kings Point Class of 1971