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Transcript: Maritime Administrator ADM Phillips Commencement Address to the United States Merchant Marine Academy Class of 2022

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Remarks As Delivered by

Maritime Administrator Rear Admiral (Ret.) Ann Philips

USMMA Graduation 2022

Kings Point, NY

Vice Admiral Jack Buono: It is now my great pleasure to welcome the Honorable Admiral Ann Phillips, our Maritime Administrator to the podium. Rear Admiral Phillips served for nearly 31 years in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. Her Navy experience included multiple commands and staff positions at the highest levels. She was sworn in as the maritime administrator in May of 2022, and is responsible to advise and assist the Secretary of Transportation on all matters of commercial maritime. She is also the senior ranking officer in the US Maritime Service. We are very pleased to welcome her back to the Academy today. Please join me in welcoming the 20th leader of the Maritime Administrator the honorable Admiral Ann C Phillips.

Ann C. Phillips, Maritime Administrator: Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Admiral Buono for that kind introduction. And as I get started here, I would particularly like to thank Admiral Buono for his leadership and his steadfast commitment to the Academy. In addition, I'd like to thank the faculty and staff for all of your work to keep the academy open and support our Midshipmen through the past several years of incredible challenges. 

I would also like to thank the alumni and Alumni Foundation, the parents’ organizations, of course all the parents, family, friends, and others who are here supporting the Class of 22 and who support the full student body of Kings Point every day, for your support and your steadfast dedication to this institution. 

I was sworn in as the maritime administrator just five weeks ago. This is my second trip here. I am deeply honored to be here with all of you for this occasion. During my nearly three decades in the Navy, I had the pleasure to serve with and for many graduates of this institution. Their considerable skill and expertise as mariners were exceeded only by their leadership, empathy, and dedication to training their boardrooms and crews not only in seamanship, but on the critical nature of sealift and of our Merchant Marine. 

As the maritime administrator, one of my key responsibilities is ensuring that we have the sealift capacity we need to deliver essential cargoes to any shore around the world. That means we need ships. And under the leadership of President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg, we are recapitalizing the Ready Reserve fleet that MARAD operates, and we are expanding our US flag commercial fleet. To run those ships daily and in times of crisis, we must also have trained and qualified mariners. This is the vital role that the Merchant Marine Academy fulfills. This academy is the primary source for our strategic sealift officers. And of course, many of you also choose to serve active duty in the armed forces, and you look great out there today and your uniform. Thank you. 

As Administrator, I'm committed to advancing the urgent efforts directed by Secretary Buttigieg to strengthen this academy. We will continue to surge resources, including addressing long standing infrastructure needs increasing the support available to the shipment including health services on campus, working to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion and of course, continuing to improve critical efforts to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment and hold perpetrators accountable. 

You, our midshipmen are the best America has to offer. You deserve a world class campus and trading opportunities at sea where you have all the resources you need to excel. To the class of 2022, you've met the rigors of this incredibly challenging program, and you've done so while surmounting the unprecedented stress of COVID-19 on top of everything else. While I know that in front of many normal activities and even joys of your academy life, you've shown your resilience - you've earned your place. In addition to leading the regimen in meeting the challenge is over the past year, you've provided many thoughtful recommendations to help us improve the way the Academy serves you, it's Midshipmen.

Many of the changes we've begun to implement, respond directly to your observations and suggestions. Thank you. Having met many of you over the past few days, I'm certain you the Class of 22 are ready for anything and equally certain that our maritime industry and our nation needs you more than ever, and more importantly needs to change you will continue to create as you advance in your careers. Congratulations to you all. And a small bit of advice. Keep plenty of water under the keel. 

It is now my honor to introduce our keynote speaker Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The 19th Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Secretary Buttigieg is a former mayor of his hometown, South Bend Indiana and a former member of the US Navy Reserve, a graduate of Harvard. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Secretary Buttigieg is leading our department at an extraordinary time as we work to deliver historic infrastructure investments made possible by President Biden's bipartisan infrastructure law. He is also focused on strengthening our supply chains and ensuring we can continue to speed the delivery of cargo from ships to shelves and customers while improving resilience at our nation's ports. Welcome, Secretary.