Massachusetts Maritime Academy – “The Commonwealths Leadership University”

The content contained below is from an email I sent to my alma mater, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, this past Friday, January 8, 2021. In addition, this email was also sent to the Board of Trustees of the Academy as well as the Chairman of the Academy Foundation.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy considers itself to be one of the finest maritime training institutions in the country. It also refers to itself and proclaims itself as “The Commonwealths Leadership University.” I am a 1988 graduate of the Academy. The education and training I received set the foundation and prepared me to enter the maritime industry to learn what it is to be a Merchant Marine Officer and, ultimately, a ships Captain. Along with the practical eduction and application of navigation and seamanship, our education taught us to be honorable and ethical and to always put the safety and well being of our crew and vessel first and foremost. The below quote can be found as one enters Bresnahan Hall on the campus of the Academy.

“You can have a merchant marine with first class men even if they sail second class ships. But second class men can’t be trusted on the finest ships afloat.” – Joseph P. Kennedy, May 1937

I believe the above quote is self-explanatory. Noble Drilling is a “corporate partner” of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I had been a Captain for Noble Drilling on the dynamically-positioned, mobile offshore drilling unit, “Noble Danny Adkins,” for five years from March 2010 to March 31, 2015. Prior to being promoted to Captain, I was Chief Mate on the vessel from April 2009 to October 2009 during the vessels final phases of construction in Singapore and prior to its arrival in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in February 2010. The “Noble Danny Adkins” was considered to be one of the finest vessels in the Noble Drilling fleet and had earned an outstanding reputation for safety, regulatory compliance, efficiency and crew morale. For any Captain, the safety of the crew and vessel is paramount and it is their primary and ultimate responsibility. My employment as Captain was terminated by Noble Drilling on March 31, 2015, eleven days after I filed a report of illegal and felonious safety violations with Noble Drillings alternate “designated person ashore.” The shore-based position of “designated person ashore” is a position mandated and required by the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code). The illegal safety violations that I reported were 1) False “red” entries in the vessel logbook as it pertained to the quarterly SOLAS requirement for the vessels lifeboats to be launched and maneuvered. This event was logged on January 29, 2015 but it never happened and 2) The directive to lie and not be forthright with U.S. Coast Guard Inspectors as it pertained to the faulty and defective condition of the vessels fast rescue craft davit. This directive was contained in email correspondence the night before and the morning of the U.S. Coast Guard Inspection that took place on February 10, 2015. This email correspondence was between Drilling Superintendent (shore-based manager) John Hawkins and the vessel Captain, Daniel Askins, who was on board the vessel at that time. Both of these safety violations are violations of Federal Law, i.e. felony offenses, and are incredibly unethical. Considering that there was 150 to 200 persons on board the vessel at any given time and that both of the violations involved safety and/or lifesaving equipment that directly effects the safety and well being of all those on board I was legally obligated to report this. If I did not report this then that would have been tantamount to consent of this conduct. More importantly, from a moral and ethical standpoint, I was also obligated to report this. I would come to learn that this directive of cover up and deceit from shore-based management also included the approval from Noble Drilling’s VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow. In addition, I would also come to learn that the individual whom I reported this to was also involved in the cover up of this illegal and unsafe activity. My employment was terminated by Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins eleven days after I filed the report of the aforementioned safety violations. John Hawkins had been my direct supervisor for approximately 6 months. I had been with the vessel for almost 6 years. Both John Hawkins and James Sanislow are graduates of Massachusetts Maritime Academy: John Hawkins is from the class of 1997 and James Sanislow is from the class of 1989. James Sanislow is also a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Foundation and serves as the Secretary of the Foundation. As a result of my retaliatory termination, I filed a lawsuit against Noble Drilling under the “Seaman’s Protection Act” which is a Federal OSHA Statute that provides whistleblower protection to mariners. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Galveston Division. The case settled out of Court in late February/early March 2017. 

The illegal safety violations that I reported occurred in late January/early February 2015. This was merely two months after Noble Drilling entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. On December 8, 2014, Noble Drilling commenced a four year term of criminal probation as a result of pleading guilty to eight felony charges related to safety and oil pollution violations that occurred on the vessel “Noble Discoverer”  from 2010 to 2012 when the vessel was operating in Alaska. Coincidentally, the Drilling Superintendent (shore-based manager) of the “Noble Discoverer”was also the previously referenced John Hawkins, the individual who terminated my employment after I filed my report of safety violations. Clearly, illegal and unsafe conduct is a pattern of behavior with John Hawkins but, more troubling, it is behavior that is encouraged, condoned and even rewarded by the corporate management of Noble Drilling. Regarding Noble Drilling’s illegal conduct on the vessel “Noble Discoverer”, they pled guilty to the following:“knowingly presented false and fictitious records to the USCG”; “knowingly and willfully failed to notify the USCG of hazardous conditions aboard the Noble Discoverer”; “knowingly made false entries in its oil record book”; “Noble knowingly engaged in the below conduct with the intent to avoid compliance with the law and avoid detection by the U.S. Coast Guard.” Additionally, “The Coast Guard discovered numerous violations, including but not limited to, major non-conformities with the safety management system….” The illegal conduct outlined in the previous sentences is eerily similar to what took place and what I reported on my vessel…..thus resulting in my whistleblower/retaliatory termination. In addition to the four years probation, Noble Drilling was ordered to pay approximately $12.2 million dollars in fines as part of their plea agreement. It would appear, however, that the “management” of Noble Drilling didn’t take their eight felony convictions and probation very seriously. When an eight time convicted felon is violating probation with the same shore-based manager and reoffending with nearly identical offenses two months after commencing a four year term of probation it is reasonable to conclude that legal “compliance” and safety is not a priority to Noble VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow and the “management” of Noble Drilling as a whole. This is the culture of Noble Drilling and the culture of any organization starts at the top. The above referenced bold-faced/italics quotes are taken directly from Noble Drilling’s plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The entire plea agreement can be viewed at www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Case# 3:2014-CR-00114-RRB, the United States of America vs. Noble Drilling filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska. 

One would think that the Massachusetts Maritime Academy would not be engaged in a relationship with such a disingenuous, immoral and unethical “corporate partner” that has demonstrated a continued and consistent culture of illegal and dangerous conduct, retaliation and cover-up that, ultimately, puts the safety of the mariner and vessel personnel at risk. I was always under the impression that a “corporate partner” of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy was an organization that conducted itself and identified with the same core values consistent with the mission statement of the Academy. I don’t believe this to be an unreasonable expectation. One would also think that the leadership of the Academy would have this expectation as well. The Academy prides itself on honor, ethics and integrity and, in turn, should expect the same of its corporate partners. It is the epitome of hypocrisy for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy to think of itself as one of the finest maritime training institutions and the “Commonwealths Leadership University” but yet look the other way at such illegal and disingenuous conduct from one of its “corporate partners” and, especially, when this conduct endangers the safety and well being of the mariner. It is for this reason that, after much deliberation, I felt it appropriate to inform the administrative leadership of the Academy (i.e. the President of the Academy and, ultimately, the Board of Trustees) regarding Noble Drillings conduct and the events that took place regarding my whistleblower/retaliatory termination. It makes no sense that a corporation or entity (Noble Drilling or otherwise) which possesses none of the character traits of what the Academy is supposed to stand for is a “corporate partner” of the Academy. It is also incredibly hypocritical that a “corporate partner” for the “Commonwealths Leadership University” is an eight-time convicted felon. In late March/early April 2019, I first reached out to one of the members of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Board of Trustees, Mr. John Prendergast, class of 1985. I knew who Trustee Prendergast was because he (along with Academy President Fran McDonald – MMA class of 1985) was a senior when I was a freshman at the Academy. I told Trustee Prendergast what had happened and provided him all of the details and documentation of what took place at Noble Drilling. Judging by the statements in our email correspondence, Trustee Prendergast was appalled at Noble’s conduct and even referenced that it contradicted the mission statement of the Academy. He also expressed his disappointment that what happened at Noble Drilling directly involved two of our fellow Academy graduates: the previously referenced James Sanislow & John Hawkins. Trustee Prendergast also made it a point to highlight in red that the mission statement of the Academy  “…..instills honor, responsibility, discipline and leadership.” Trustee Prendergast is correct in that it is incredibly disappointing that it was two of our graduates who were involved in such illegal and unethical conduct and cover up. Unfortunately, this is not the first occurrence of such conduct for John Hawkins or James Sanislow. There is a consistency to this “culture” that continues to this day. Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduates are supposed to be better than this. A copy of this email from Trustee John Prendergast is attached below this paragraph. Mr. Prendergast suggested I speak with Admiral McDonald. On May 1, 2019, I met with Admiral Fran McDonald, the President of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Prior to our meeting I had emailed Admiral McDonald all of the details and documentation as it pertained to what took place at Noble Drilling. Subsequently, I sent an “open letter” to Admiral McDonald and the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. This letter/email was dated July 29, 2019 and it outlined and detailed what took place at Noble Drilling. I received a letter dated August 28, 2019 from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, James Kane, acknowledging receipt of my letter and that he and the Board of Trustees would take the matter “under advisement.” I never received any other response from James Kane or the Board to Trustees. I attended the Board of Trustees meeting of December 6, 2019. I was able to speak during the “public comment” part of the agenda. I was given approximately three to five minutes to speak. Given how short of time I was given to speak the focus of my statements to the Board of Trustees was the following: Is a corporate partner of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy that engages in dangerous, illegal and felonious activity and that retaliates against those who report such activity an example of a corporate culture that is consistent with the values and mission statement of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I attempted via email to follow up with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, James Kane, on January 28, 2020. He responded to me via email on February 14, 2020, and stated that he would follow up with me again in the “near future.” I never head from James Kane again. Instead, on April 13, 2020, I received a letter dated April 8, 2020, from Attorney James B. Cox who represents the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Board of Trustees. I was very surprised and quite puzzled as to why James Kane felt it necessary to involve an attorney. From my perspective this was not a legal issue at all. In this letter Attorney Cox made it very clear that since the “entity” (i.e. Noble Drilling) was a benefactor/donor to the Academy and its Foundation that the Academy would take no action. In addition, he also stated that since “the entity” provides employment to graduates of the Academy they would take no action. Yes, Attorney Cox is correct in that statement. I know that I, personally, referred approximately 6 graduates of the Academy to Noble Drilling who did, in fact, get hired. To the best of my knowledge, two of these individuals are still presently employed at Noble Drilling. That is what our graduates are supposed to do: we are supposed to look out for one another and watch each others backs. A copy of my open letter of July 29, 2019 to the Board of Trustees  and the April 8, 2020, letter from Attorney Cox are attached below. It is disappointing, to say the least, that Board of Trustees Chairman James Kane did not honor his word and follow up with me directly as he stated but instead chose to hide behind an attorney. Such a lack of intestinal fortitude and cowardice is not very becoming of an individual in a leadership role such that as of a Chairman of a Board; especially, when one is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of “The Commonwealths Leadership University.”

As of late December 2020, there have been some changes to the website of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (www.maritime.edu). Among some of the changes is that what had previously been the “Mission Statement” of the Academy appears to no longer exist. The Mission Statement of the Academy was as follows:

 “The mission of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is to provide a quality education for graduates serving in the merchant marine, the military services, and those who serve the interests of the Commonwealth, Nation and global marketplace. The Academy does so by combining a rigorous academic program with a regimented lifestyle that instills honor, responsibility, discipline, and leadership.”

On the “new” website it simply states that the Mission Statement is “The Commonwealths Leadership University.” Also, curiously enough, the new website does not list who the “corporate partners” of the Academy are. The previous website listed and showed who the “corporate partners” of the Academy were. I am curious as to why the “corporate partners” of the Academy are no longer displayed on the “new” website. 
Apparently, the only criteria for being a “corporate partner” of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy is the willingness to write a check. It is deeply disappointing and troubling that the administrative leadership and Board of Trustees of the Academy would prostitute the reputation of the Academy for money but, from my perspective, that is what they have done. Corporate cultures such as that of Noble Drilling that retaliate and fire Captains who raise safety issues and concerns are not corporate cultures that, in my opinion, reflect the mission statement of the Academy or, should I say, what was the mission statement of the Academy. In fact, Noble Drilling’s conduct is directly contradictory to the mission statement of the Academy. Those reading this who have been to sea know exactly what I am stating. Corporate cultures such as that of Noble Drilling that are eight-time convicted felons are also not corporate cultures that reflect the mission statement of the Academy. When one considers that the illegal activity that I reported occurred only two months after Noble Drilling entered into their plea agreement and commencement of probation and involved the same shore-based manager, John Hawkins,what does that say about their corporate culture? Noble Drilling “management” chose to fire a Captain who was looking out for the safety of his crew and vessel. In turn, they also made a choice to protect a dangerous and grossly incompetent manager, John Hawkins. It is difficult to comprehend that someone whose “management” was responsible for eight felony convictions, $12.2 million in fines and four years criminal probation would be so protected. Noble VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow was involved in my litigation against Noble Drilling. He is copied on this email. Perhaps, he can offer an explanation. 

In addition, I notified the Chairman of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Foundation, Mr. Brendan O’ Connor – Massachusetts Maritime Academy Class of 1993. Mr. O’ Connor and I had several email exchanges and phone conversations about this matter. He stated to me via email that what happened at Noble Drilling was “unfortunate” but the position of him and the Foundation was “unwavering and neutral.” Mr. O’ Connor is a Vice President with Interlake Steamship Company. Ironically, when one goes to their web page, www.interlake-steamship.com, one of the first things that appears is a statement of the company’s safety culture: “Safety Culture: At Interlake, there is nothing more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of our employees and their families.”One can only surmise that Mr. O’ Connor and Interlake Steamship Company, similar to Noble Drilling, use slogans related to safety to create the illusion that they actually care about the safety of their mariners and vessel personnel. Evidently, the repeated and continued illegal and dangerous conduct of Noble Drilling is acceptable to Mr. O’ Connor and his Foundation. After all, the position of him and the MMA Foundation as it pertains Noble Drilling is “unwavering and neutral.” Again, it appears that the common theme is about money. The fact that James Sanislow is a member and an officer of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Foundation is yet another example of the disgraceful hypocrisy of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy as well as the Foundation and the “leadership” of both. In his position as Noble Drilling VP/Chief Compliance Officer James Sanislow is a lawyer. I sat across a table from James Sanislow and watched him lie under oath in a deposition. I am of the opinion that it is unconscionable that a lawyer, i.e. an Officer of the Court, would show such a flagrant and blatant disregard for the law and lie under oath. However, James Sanislow is the VP/Chief Compliance Officer for an eight-time convicted felon so I suppose this should not come as a surprise. In addition, when my litigation with Noble Drilling had concluded, I provided a plethora of evidence to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska that Noble Drilling had violated the terms and conditions of their probation. Why did I contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office? Because it was very clear that the safety of the mariner and vessel personnel was continuing to be compromised by Noble Drilling corporate management. Captains are supposed to report safety issues as it is in the best interest of the crew, the vessel and, ultimately, the company. The most elementary concept of vessel safety is to report dangerous and/or unsafe activity so that it may be corrected. When Captains are fired for raising safety concerns it sends shock waves through a company and it is a great deterrent for individuals to speak up if they see something that is dangerous or unsafe. When Noble Drilling became aware of my contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska, James Sanislow along with Noble Drillings outside legal counsel, Attorneys John C. Cox and Herbert Ray, engaged in a vile and vicious smear campaign of lies and character assassination that included numerous lies and false accusations including that of criminal activity. These lies and false statements are contained in official Court documents. James Sanislow and Noble’s outside legal counsel knowingly, willingly and maliciously lied to the Court. This only reinforces how dirty and corrupt Noble Drilling truly is. How is it that a corporation so bankrupt of honor, morals, ethics and integrity is a “corporate partner” of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and its Foundation? I provided MMA Foundation Chairman O’ Connor these various Court documents but that did not change the position of the Foundation from being “unwavering and neutral.” Evidently, illegal, immoral and unethical conduct of a “corporate partner” is acceptable to the MMA Foundation.
The knowing, willful and malicious false statements that were submitted to the Court by James Sanislow and John C. Cox and Herbert Ray are protected and immune from prosecution for defamation……and they knew it. Such a fine example of honorable and ethical conduct and “leadership” from a member of the MMA Foundation and the VP/Chief Compliance Officer of one of the Academy’s “corporate partners.” In the Spring 2015 edition of MMA’s “Enterprise” magazine James Sanislow is quoted as saying the following: “Among Noble’s core values are honesty and integrity, safety, environmental stewardship, respect and performance.” James Sanislow is a member and board member of an organization called the New Canaan Society. Their motto is “Live Pure, Right Wrong, Speak Truth & Follow The King.”James Sanislow had the opportunity to “right wrong” and he did nothing. James Sanislow had the opportunity to “speak truth” but instead lied. It would appear that the arrogance and hypocrisy of James Sanislow has no limits or boundaries.

So what does Noble Drillings conduct demonstrate? This is the textbook reaction to whistleblowers in any industry. Noble Drilling never addressed the truth and facts of what took place and that is because they can’t alter the truth. They don’t think or care of the safety and well being of their vessel personnel. They attack and smear the whistleblower who is speaking the truth. They attack the person trying to follow the law and do what is in the best interest of the mariner and vessel personnel. They dove head first into the deep end of the cesspool to try and lie their way out and by smearing and assassinating my character for coming forward. Their only objective was self-preservation and cover-up and they would stop at nothing to achieve that. However, this is nothing new for Noble Drilling. This is a consistent element of their culture. Is such conduct an example of what our cadets should emulate? As I stated in a previous paragraph, I sued Noble Drilling and the case settled out of Court. I would ask anyone who is reading this the following question: Why would a corporation with virtually unlimited resources settle out of Court with an individual such as myself? At the time Noble Drilling was a publicly traded company on the NYSE with assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars if not more. They didn’t settle because they were right or because they had the law and the truth on their side. 

Captain John Konrad, the CEO and founder of the maritime website www.gcaptain.com published an article in 2018 titled “The Top 10 Reasons Why the Merchant Marine is Failing.”Bullet point three of this article states the following: 
 “The nations Maritime Academies are our nations future but what example do they set? Authors of pulp fictionleadersof failing shipping companies (e.g. TOTE and Overseas Shipholding Group), Generals who stood watch over a weakening Merchant Marine and long serving Academy trustees who failed to find replacements for a 50+year old trainings ship get praised with honorary degrees and importantseats on academy foundations.”This article can be read in its entirety from the following link: https://gcaptain.com/top-10-reasons-why-the-us-merchant-marine-is-failing/

When I approached the administrative leadership and the Board of Trustees I felt it important that they know what took place at Noble Drilling as I was and still am of the belief that such disingenuous conduct is directly contradictory to the mission statement or, should I say, what was the mission statement of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I provided them all of the evidence and documentation as to what took place. This documentation included internal Noble documents, deposition transcripts, emails, copies of logbook pages as well as copies of work permits. Beyond presenting the truth, facts and evidence there is not much more I can do. 

My reason for this email is that when the minutes of the December 6, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting (the meeting in which I attended and spoke) were published they were greatly distorted and misleading in their specific reference to my statements. The minutes were signed by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, James Kane, and the Secretary of the Board of Trustees Colleen Ruggeri. The minutes as it pertained to the “public comment” section and, specifically, my statements, were greatly distorted and misleading and gave a false narrative as it pertained to my statements to the Board of Trustees. I believe this was done in a knowing, willful and intentional manner so if an individual were reading the minutes it would distort and mis-represent the true reason for my address to the Board. Words are very important and their addition or deletion can have a profound effect on the context of what is written or stated. I believe that this was also done so as to avoid any potential scrutiny for the administrative leadership and/or the Board of Trustees as it pertained to their “corporate partner,” Noble Drilling. The minutes of the meeting are a matter of public record and are published on the website of the Academy. The focus of my statements to the Board of Trustees as I had indicated in a previous paragraph was the following: Is a corporate partner of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy that engages in dangerous, illegal and felonious activity and that retaliates against those who report such activity an example of a corporate culture that is consistent with the values and mission statement of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The minutes, as published, very conveniently and deliberately did not specifically reference the conduct of a “corporate partner” of the Academy. Why would James Kane and his Board of Trustees feel the need to omit this very specific language in their minutes? This is not how the “leaders” of the “Commonwealths Leadership University” should be conducting themselves. On May 28, 2020 I saw, for the first time, the published minutes. I immediately requested, via email, that James Kane and the Board of Trustees revise the minutes to truthfully and accurately reflect what I stated. A copy of that email is attached below this paragraph. They ignored this request and I, again, followed up with a second email on July 3, 2020. This second email was met with a response from the previously referenced Attorney James Cox stating that the Board of Trustees would take no action as to the revision of the minutes. Once again, Board of Trustees Chairman James Kane displayed his weakness and cowardice and hid behind Attorney James Cox. Perhaps, the administrative leadership and the Board of Trustees of the Academy have much more in common with Noble Drilling than originally thought. All I have requested is that the minutes be revised to accurately and truthfully reflect what I stated. I don’t believe this to be an unreasonable request. It is, once again, incredibly obtuse that I have to request the Board of Trustees of the “Commonwealths Leadership University” to state the truth. Ironically, according to the cadet honor code of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, if a cadet lies that is considered an offense that could result in expulsion. True leaders know that one of the most important aspects of leadership is to set the example with ones own behavior. Unfortunately, the arrogance and hubris displayed by those involved will prevent the comprehension of this concept. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, James Kane, is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. I don’t know, if any, what connection he has to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I will surmise that his appointment to the Board of Trustees is strictly political given that both James Kane and his wife are both elected officials in Massachusetts. To those members of the Board of Trustees who are graduates of the Academy: shame on you. You are supposed to know better.  

What kind of example is the “leadership” and the Board of Trustees and the Foundation of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy setting for the cadets of today? Their actions are such that they are indicating that is acceptable to lie and conduct oneself without honor, ethics or integrity just as long as you write a big check. Is this really the example the administrative leadership and Board of Trustees desires to set for the cadets attending the Academy? Money does not buy redemption nor does it exonerate an individual or a corporation for lying, cowardice or hypocrisy. In a phone conversation with Trustee John Prendergast he shared with me that his daughter is a graduate of the Academy and went to sea as an engineer for a tanker company. Would Trustee Prendergast or any other members of the Board of Trustees want their son or daughter on board a ship with a Captain who falsified safety inspections and lied to the U.S. Coast Guard about the status of lifesaving equipment? Or would they want their son or daughter on a vessel with a Captain who spoke the truth and put the safety and welfare of his crew first and foremost? I would also ask any of the Board of Trustees and Foundation members would they want their son or daughter on a ship where the corporate management culture is that of Noble Drilling in that it retaliates against and fires Captains who put the safety of their crew and vessel first but protects and covers up for those who knowingly violate the law and think nothing of the safety and well being of the vessel personnel? Or would you all look the other way as long as a large check made its way to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy?

In the interest of transparency, Noble Drilling did make a donation of $1 million dollars to the Academy in 2013. However, the timing of this donation is very curious. In 2013, Noble Drilling was under Federal investigation for the previously referred to safety and oil pollution violations that took place on the vessel “Noble Discoverer”from 2010 to 2012.As previously stated, in December 2014, Noble Drilling entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. To the best of my knowledge, Noble Drilling has not made any donations to the Academy since the $1 million dollar donation in 2013. This was also verified in an email from Foundation Chairman Brendan O’ Connor. For almost eight years Noble Drilling has not donated any money to the Academy. Ironically, in 2018, when Noble Drilling was petitioning the U.S. District Court for early termination of probation they (James Sanislow, John Cox & Herbert Ray) stated that Noble Drilling had made multi-million dollar contributions to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. This was yet another false statement submitted to the Court and it is contradictory to the information I received from the advancement office and from Foundation Chairman Brendan O’ Connor. Considering that Noble Drilling filed for bankruptcy protection in late July 2020 it is reasonable to conclude that they will not be making any donations to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the foreseeable future. Coincidentally, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy “Maritime Person of the Year” in 2013 was then President & CEO of Noble Drilling, David Williams. When one considers the criteria for the “Maritime Person of the Year” it would appear that Noble Drilling CEO David Williams “bought” this award with Noble Drilling’s $1 million dollar donation to the Academy. As quoted from the Academy website, The Emory Rice Medal is awarded based on the following: This medal has been presented to a select group of maritime professionals who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the very principles taught at the Academy; leadership, ethics, business sense and respect for the ocean environment. All medal recipients have one thing in common, they have earned the respect of their peers. It is difficult to comprehend that this “award” was presented to the President & CEO of a corporation that was, at the time the award was presented, under Federal investigation for safety and oil pollution violations which, ultimately, they pleaded guilty. In fairness to Admiral Fran McDonald, he was not the President of the Academy during the 2013 timeframe. The President during the 2013 timeframe was Admiral McDonald’s predecessor, Richard Gurnon. It would appear that the genesis of the arrangement between Noble Drilling and the Academy dates back to 2013 when Noble Drilling was under Federal investigation. I can’t think of a scenario in which James Sanislow would not have disclosed Noble Drillings multiple felony offenses that were pending prior to Mr. Gurnon, i.e. the Academy, entering into this relationship.

 The above paragraphs illustrate multiple examples of hypocrisy for an institution that refers to itself as the “Commonwealths Leadership University.” I, personally, find this disgraceful and as a graduate of the Academy, it is extremely disappointing. One thing that is for certain is that this is not the Massachusetts Maritime Academy that I graduated from. Regarding “leadership,” what is leadership? Leaders conduct themselves honorably, ethically and their integrity cannot be bought or compromised. Leaders speak and seek the truth in the face of adversity and despite what the personal consequences may be. Leaders say what they mean and they mean what they say. Leadership is not about what one says but about what one does as evidenced by their deeds and their actions and the examples that they set with their own behavior and conduct. Leaders do not cover up the truth and lie. Leaders are not cowards and are not hypocrites. Leadership is doing the “right thing.” Leadership is being unselfish and leadership is setting a standard and holding ones self accountable and responsible for that standard. These are the examples of leadership that I was taught when I attended the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Individuals such as Captain Joe Murphy, Captain Tom Bushy, Captain Pat Modic, Captain Jerry McGourthy and the late Captain John Gibbons, to name a few, were some of my instructors and their influence always stayed with me throughout my seagoing career. 

For the past four years, I have been a training instructor for the U.S. Navy at the Surface Warfare Officers School located in Newport, RI. I consider it to be a great privilege to be in such a position to be able to train our Naval Surface Warfare Officers who range in rank from Lieutenants to Commanding Officers on vessels that range from conventional surface combatant vessels to the high-speed littoral combat ships. I would like to believe that being in this position lends a certain amount of credibility. In addition, I contributed to a paper published by the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (commonly known as the MMP) in conjunction with Dalhousie University. The paper was titled “Spotlight On Safety: Why Accidents Are Often Not Accidental.”I am not nor have I ever been a member of the MMP but they felt as a whistleblower and the facts surrounding my retaliatory termination from Noble Drilling that it should be included in this paper. “Spotlight On Safety:…” was also presented before Congress i.e. the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation in November 2019 and was subsequently entered into the Federal Register. 

 In closing, the motto of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point is “ACTA NON-VERBA.This is latin for “DEEDS NOT WORDS”………Perhaps the administrative leadership, the Board of Trustees and the Foundation of “The Commonwealths Leadership University” could learn something from the leadership of the U.S Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. 

Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian 

Massachusetts Maritime Academy – Class of 1988

Instructor – U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officers School – Newport, RI

Cell: 978-764-3908/Email: jbhagop@yahoo.com

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