Merchant Marine Academy Has New Commandant

The United States Merchant Marine Academy has appointed its first female Superintendent, Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan. She is a 2-Star Admiral and recently retired from the United States Coast Guard after more than 30 years in that service.

Admiral Nunan was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1987. She also earned a Master in Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic. During her career, she also obtained three Coast Guard merchant mariner licenses.

Photo: DVIDS

Nunan is no stranger to command positions, both at sea and ashore. She retired earlier this year as the Deputy for Personnel Readiness for the USCG. In that position, she was responsible for every aspect of the Coast Guard’s recruitment, training, support, and retention of both active duty and reserve forces, as well as all of the civilian personnel across the entire Coast Guard. While engaged in this, she also found time to supervise the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT, and served on its Board of Trustees. Prior to this, she served as the Assistant Commandant for Human Resources, where she helped spearhead Coast Guard efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the USCG, which included creating policies for increasing the retention of women in the Coast Guard. This included her participation as a member of the Sexual Assault Prevention, Response, and Recovery Committee.

Over the course of her three-decades-long career, she served over 9 years at sea commanding two buoy tenders. She also has been the Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District and Commander of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

Photo: DVIDS

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) is a federal service academy that educates and graduates leaders to serve the national security, marine transportation, and economic needs of the United States as Merchant Marine officers and commissioned officers in the Armed Forces.

The motto of the Merchant Marine Academy is “Acta Non Verba” or “Deeds, Not Words.” And here is something that you may not have considered: The USMMA requires more credit hours of study for a baccalaureate degree than any other federal service academy. Students at the academy must also serve for one year at sea in the Academy’s Sea Year, where its midshipmen get the best training of all, that is, hands-on training in real-time and real locations. Graduates of the USMMA receive a Bachelor of Science degree, a U.S. Coast Guard license, and an officer’s commission in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Photo: DVIDS

Most people don’t realize that the United States Merchant Marine is a part of our Armed Forces as the “fourth arm of defense.” It is has played and continues to play an important part in the movement and protection of material, supplies, and equipment in times of both war and peace. It has a distinguished history, and its involvement in war and peace in the 20th century is well documented. The Merchant Marine Academy itself was established in 1936.

It seems apparent that the appointment of Rear Admiral Joanna Nunan to this highly regarded service academy, the USMMA, is going to be a good marriage. She has the experience and the intellectual horsepower to continue and even advance the reputation of the USMMA in graduating a superbly qualified officer corps for our Armed Forces.

We wish Admiral Joanna Nunan “Fair Winds and Following Seas” in her new and important role as the Superintendent of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. May the academy continue to produce the best leaders for this important service that serves our economic and our military needs in both war and in peace.

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