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Senate confirms Buzby as new leader of Maritime Administration

Sep 29, 2017 01:13 PM
Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, right, shown in 2011 while head of the Military Sealift Command, receives a ship cap from Capt. Pete Hildreth, commanding officer of the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, in Guam.

Courtesy U.S. Navy

Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, right, shown in 2011 while head of the Military Sealift Command, receives a ship cap from Capt. Pete Hildreth, commanding officer of the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, in Guam.

A Senate committee in August confirmed retired U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, a U.S. Merchant Marine Academy alumnus and former commander of the Military Sealift Command, as the new administrator of the Maritime Administration (MarAd).

Buzby will replace Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, who left the position in January with the change of presidential administrations. Jaenichen was appointed by President Obama in 2014 after serving for two years as deputy and acting maritime administrator. President Trump nominated Buzby in June, and he was confirmed by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Aug. 3. At press time, he had not been officially sworn in.

Buzby, 60, is a 1979 graduate of USMMA. His 34-year naval career involved service on cruisers and destroyers, as well as commands that included USS Carney (DDG 64), Destroyer Squadron 31, the Surface Warfare Officers School Command, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and the Military Sealift Command. He most recently served as president and chief executive officer of the National Defense Transportation Association and sits on the boards of several maritime-related corporations. In 2013, he was appointed to Carnival Cruise Line’s Safety and Reliability Review Board. He is a recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star and several other personal and unit awards.

In a statement to the Senate committee on July 26, Buzby said the U.S. merchant marine should be “front and center” in any discussion of transportation policy because the movement of cargo by ship is critical to the economy. “Moreover, since World War II, the merchant marine is a key part of the Navy’s Ready Reserve,” he said. “This means we need U.S.-flagged ships that are in good repair, we need efficient U.S. ports and we need skilled mariners.”

Buzby said one of his first priorities would be to get USMMA “squared away.” MarAd suspended the academy’s Sea Year training program in 2016 due to concerns about sexual harassment and sexual assault, and the school has struggled to meet accreditation benchmarks.

“This academy is too great an asset to become tainted because of the misconduct or bad judgment of a few,” Buzby said. “We will ensure that Sea Year provides the essential learning experience that it is intended to and that all midshipmen will participate in this unique hands-on learning experience safely and confidently across a wide variety of ships. We will work to ensure that the academy is fully accredited, that the education received there is worthy of a U.S. service academy, and that its graduates are fully qualified as ship’s officers to command ships, operate propulsion systems and lead seafarers.”

Jaenichen, who is now chief operating officer for HMS Global Maritime, the owner and operator of the American Queen Steamboat Co., told Professional Mariner that he knows Buzby well and that the new MarAd leader has “a great knowledge of the industry.”

“Mark Buzby understands waterborne logistics and will be a great administrator,” Jaenichen said. “He has the right credentials. I had heard he was under consideration and I had several conversations with him.”

Regarding his own tenure, Jaenichen said he believed that he and his colleagues were successful in promoting the advantages and opportunities of the U.S. fleet.

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