This just in from the Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF) (Click here to read original article)

Without warning, on the 8th of December, Gene Story ’47, Chairman, and three other non-government Directors (including two Kings Pointers), of the Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS) were removed from the Board and replaced by officials of the Maritime Administration (MARAD). At that time, MARAD also announced that the school would be shut down and completely closed by 31 July 2012.

The Alumni Association and Foundation (AAF) is opposed to this closure and is working to reverse this decision. Although there is no direct relationship between GMATS and the AAF, we firmly believe that GMATS is a valuable asset and adds significantly to the stature of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as the foremost maritime academy in the world.

MARAD has stated that GMATS and all other NAFI organizations are being shut down to comply with the 2009 GAO report that questioned MARAD’s operation and management control of the Academy. It is the position of the AAF that GMATS closure was not recommended by the GAO and that the school should be allowed to continue operating for the benefit of the Academy, once again as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

GMATS was founded as an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation by the Alumni Association in 1984. The school was converted in 1994 to a Non-Appropriated Funds Instrumentality (NAFI), transferring control from the Alumni to the Academy, in response to VP Al Gore’s National Performance Review, which recommended that the Academy seek ways to improve its performance of its Mission.

With the support of former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, GMATS has grown into a world class post-graduate continuing education center. NOAA, the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Naval Reserve have come to rely on GMATS as a primary training resource. Since 2001, the school has raised over $7 million for the Academy while operating without any appropriated federal funds.

It should be noted that the closing of GMATS comes at a time following when the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is reviewing vessel safety standards, operating procedures, and crew training requirements, in response to the Costa Concordia tragedy. The Committee will review the events of this specific incident, current safety measures and training requirements set by law and international maritime transportation agreements to ensure this mode of transportation remains as safe as possible. The Alumni Association and Foundation firmly believes that GMATS should be at the forefront of such discussions.

We urge all Alumni to support the efforts of the former GMATS Board of Directors by contacting their Congressional representatives to demand that this ill-advised decision to close down the school be reversed. Click here to learn more about this issue, and what you can specifically do to help.

The Alumni Association and Foundation will continue to keep you updated of the progress in this effort via our Signal Flags bulletins.