Program at Merchant Marine Academy to end

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The federal Department of Transportation has decided to end the 17-year-old continuing education program at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

The Global Maritime and Transportation School will close in July. The transportation department told Kings Point officials of the decision last week.

The program, created to meet education and training needs of the transportation industry and other federal agencies, has 27 full-time and additional part-time employees, according to the DOT.

The academy will be the only maritime college in the country without a continuing education program, according to maritime industry websites.

"The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy are committed to creating and serving a maritime transportation system that addresses 21st century challenges," said Kim Riddle, spokeswoman for the U.S. Maritime Administration. "As part of this commitment and in response to recommendations from the GAO [Government Accountability Office], the academy is taking steps to wind down the Global Maritime and Transportation School and determine its role in continuing education."

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Riddle added that an evaluation of the industry's continuing education needs will be included in the academy's strategic planning process.

"I think it's disappointing that the United States Merchant Marine Academy will not have a facility for continuing education," said Jack Noonan, a Kings Point alumnus who is chief executive of BLT Chembulk Group, a Connecticut tanker company.

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