The United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was established on March 15, 1938 following passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. Training was first given aboard merchant ships and later at temporary shore establishments pending the acquisition of permanent facilities. The Walter P. Chrysler Estate at Kings Point was selected as the permanent site for the Academy in March of 1942 and construction began the following May.
World War II required the Academy to forego normal operation to devote all of its resources toward meeting the emergency personnel needs of the Merchant Marine. The enrollment was increased to 2,700, and the planned course of instruction was reduced in length from four years to 18 months. Notwithstanding the war, shipboard training continued to be an integral part of the Academy curriculum, and Midshipmen served at sea in combat zones all over the world.
During World War II, 210 Midshipmen and graduates gave their lives in service to their country, and many other midshipmen and graduates survived the war at sea. Seven Midshipmen and one graduate were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal of the Merchant Marine, the nation's highest decoration for notable gallantry and devotion to duty. By the end of the war, the Academy had graduated 6,634 officers.
The Academy's national value was once again recognized as it accelerated graduating classes during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and for its involvement in such programs as training officers of the first U. S. nuclear-powered merchant ship, the Savanah.
Admission requirements were amended in 1974, and the Academy became the first federal service school to enroll women students.
During the Persian Gulf conflict in early 1991, and for many months prior to the war, both Academy graduates and Midshipmen played key roles in the massive sealift of military supplies to the Middle East.
Kings Point, which is one of the five federal academies, has grown in stature since World War II and has become one of the world's foremost institutions in the field of maritime education. Midshipmen select their major course of study from among six major programs: Marine Transportation, Marine Operations and Technology, Marine Engineering, Marine Engineering Systems, Shipyard and Marine Engineering Management, and Logistics and Intermodal Transportation. Individual courses are available in many other fields such as Law, Management, Naval Architecture, Computer Science, and Nuclear Engineering. Upon graduation, Midshipmen will receive a degree in their chosen major, a Coast Guard License to sail in the above capacities, and a commission as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve.
Today, graduates are serving with distinction in all sectors of the maritime industry - as ship's officers, steamship company executives, admiralty lawyers, marine underwriters, naval architects, oceanographers, and career officers in the United States Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Buildings and Facilities
On the slope looking towards Long Island stands a monument erected to the memory of 210 Midshipmen and graduates who lost their lives at sea during World War II. Mariners Memorial Chapel, honoring all men and women of the Merchant Marine, stands on a grassy knoll to the south of the War Memorial.
Wiley Hall, facing Long Island Sound, is the center of administrative activities. Formerly the home of Walter P. Chrysler, it now bears the name of Admiral Henry A. Wiley, USN, the "Father of the Cadet Corps." It contains the offices of the Superintendent, Academic Dean, Commandant of Midshipmen, Director of the Office of External Affairs, and other members of the administrative staff. East of Wiley Hall lies the center of the Academy campus marked by one of the nation's tallest flagpoles, standing 172-feet tall.