The article "Merchant Marine Academy: Not shipshape" [News, March 11] misses the point that the academy's problems are a symptom of the long-standing malaise resulting from the bureaucratic leadership of the U.S. Maritime Administration.
The academy was at one time considered one of the best institutions of its kind, educating and training licensed deck and engineering officers for the merchant marine and leaders for the nation's marine industry. However, the Maritime Administration has disemboweled the academy and reduced it to an institution in turmoil.
This same lack of leadership has allowed the nation's merchant marine engaged in international trade to shrink to almost nonexistence, and the nation's coastal fleet to degrade to one of the most energy-inefficient in the world. We are essentially totally dependent on foreign carriers to transport raw materials and finished goods to and from the nation.
The article notes that the academy has had three superintendents in three years, that the training vessel Kings Pointer has been taken away from the academy, that the Global Maritime and Transportation School will shut down in July, that the Melville Hall catering center will close in September, and that many on-campus facilities desperately need repair. What was not addressed is why the academy has been allowed to reach this pitiful state, nor was the correlation between the poor health of the nation's marine industry and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy made.
As the world's major trading nation, it is in our best interest to have a vibrant marine industry and a national maritime academy whose programs are admired and copied.
Jose Femenia, Oakdale
Editor's note: The writer is a retired engineering professor from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and SUNY Maritime College.