A danger sign is meant to keep people off the...

A danger sign is meant to keep people off the deteriorating 600-foot wooden Mallory Pier at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point. (Feb. 22, 2012) Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A Staten Island congressman is pushing federal authorities to move a continuing education school to a campus in his district rather than close its operations at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point.

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) sent a letter to the U.S. Maritime Administration last week asking that curriculum and equipment at the Global Maritime and Transportation School go to the Seaman's Institute at Snug Harbor.

"The maritime industry is at the heart of the economic vitality of our region," Grimm said. "In order for that to continue, we must preserve opportunities to receive top-notch training in the NYC area."

A Deparment of Transportation spokeswoman acknowledged that "Administrator [David] Matsuda received a letter from Rep. Grimm and will respond to him directly."

The Department of Transportation, which oversees the Maritime Administration and the Merchant Marine Academy, announced in December it will close the school in July. The academy is one of five federal service academies.

Closing the school, which provides advanced classes to thousands of government, military and commercial employees, as well as a small number of midshipmen, came in response to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report that found financial irregularities at Kings Point.

The report specifically cited self-funded operations at the academy, including the continuing education school known as GMATS. The report did not specify any wrongdoing, but concluded money was handled in a way that did not adhere to federal standards.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in February told Newsday the decision to close the school was not open to negotiation.

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) is meeting Tuesday with LaHood and plans to ask him about the school's future, Ackerman's spokesman Jordan Goldes said.

Grimm said he wants to transfer curriculum and equipment to Staten Island so the Seaman's Institute can train students through established courses and lessons. "The curriculum is needed and it's needed in New York and the entire region," he said.

The Global Maritime and Transportation School offers 140 courses each year to military, government and commercial employees. Since 2001, more than 20,000 naval reservist and active-duty personnel have trained there. Only about 5 percent of the students are from the academy, Matsuda wrote in a blog earlier this year.

The nonprofit Seaman's Institute opened in September 2008, is Coast Guard approved and offers entry level and advanced naval courses, captain and founder Curt Ward said.

"It's almost exactly like GMATS," Ward said. "Some of the programs are the same."

The school trains about 300 students annually and has room to expand should GMATS transfer its resources and programs over, Ward said.

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