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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

United States Merchant Marine Academy Superintendent Receives Third Star

Monday, January 11, 2021

United States Merchant Marine Academy Superintendent Receives Third Star

WASHINGTON – Today, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao promoted U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA or the Academy) Superintendent, Rear Admiral Jack Buono to Vice Admiral in the U.S. Maritime Service (USMS) at a small ceremony in the Department of Transportation headquarters, Washington, D.C.

“Vice Admiral Buono deserves this third star – he’s been a great leader, especially during COVID-19, and has put USMMA at Kings Point on a solid foundation to develop our country’s future maritime leaders,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Vice Admiral Buono will continue to lead at USMMA, where he has been stationed since joining the Academy in November 2018. The promotion makes Vice Admiral Buono the first USMMA graduate to serve in this position at this rank.

Prior to his appointment as Superintendent, Vice Admiral Buono had nearly 40 years of maritime experience in the private sector. He retired from his last private sector employer in 2016.

“This well-deserved promotion is an indication of the trust and confidence we have in Vice Adm. Buono’s leadership in the critical role of preparing our Nation’s next generation of leaders – afloat and ashore,” said Maritime Administrator Mark H. Buzby. “His steady hand on the wheel continues to steer Kings Point fair.”

Vice Admiral Buono is a Master Mariner and a 1978 graduate of the Academy. During his tenure as Superintendent, he has been responsible for implementing the Academy’s strategic plan which includes updating institutional culture, governance, communications, infrastructure, academics and athletics. More recently, Vice Admiral Buono has guided the Regiment of Midshipmen and the Academy community through the global health crisis while maintaining a strong focus on accomplishing the mission of the Academy.  His inspirational leadership has rallied the entire Academy family – students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni.

“I am truly humbled and honored by this promotion, and I look forward to continuing to develop the future of this national treasure we call USMMA,” said Vice Admiral Buono. “We will continue to press forward with our mission: developing leaders of exemplary character committed to serving the national security, marine transportation and economic needs of this great Nation.”

Other recent and significant accomplishments at USMMA under the guidance of Vice Admiral Buono include: the first-ever semi-virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020, the pivot to distance learning during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, maintaining at sea training experience for Midshipmen aboard U.S. Flag merchant ships and two state maritime academy training vessels, and the milestone achievement of sending the Regiment of Midshipmen home for the recent holiday break COVID-free.



The United States Merchant Marine Academy, located in Kings Point, N.Y., educates and graduates leaders of exemplary character who are inspired to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as licensed Merchant Marine Officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Academy, which was established under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1943. It is administered by the Maritime Administration under the auspices of the Department of Transportation.


The United States Maritime Service was established in 1938 under the provisions of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 as a voluntary organization to train individuals to become officers and crewmembers on merchant ships. Subsequently, Merchant Mariners moved personnel and supplies into and out of World War II theaters around the globe. Despite their significant contributions to the Allied victory in World War II, USMS training establishments and facilities were deactivated in 1954, and the USMS was, with one exception, dissolved or absorbed into other federal departments. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority, with the approval of Congress, to reactivate the USMS in times of war. The Maritime Administrator is recognized as the Commandant of the USMS.

As the single exception to the deactivation of the USMS, the Secretary of Transportation is afforded the authority to maintain the tradition of uniformed USMS officer presence at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and the six maritime academies. At USMMA, these uniformed officers include the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, Dean, Commandant, company officers, and many of the faculty.

The presence of uniformed USMS officers is an integral part of the regimental and educational system at the Academy. Since 1943, USMMA has implemented a proven developmental system that includes the regiment, academics, athletics and Sea Year to accomplish its mission of developing leaders of exemplary character that are committed to the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States. The presence of a uniformed cadre of officers at the Academy teaches midshipmen the time-honored traditions of shipboard hierarchical command and control, preparing them for a lifetime of service.