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USMMA Superintendent Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan (center) with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg (left)YouTube

KINGS POINT, New York (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) rescinded its COVID-19 jab mandate last week after receiving a letter from House Subcommittee of Military Personnel Chairman Jim Banks of Ohio questioning the mandate’s constitutionality.

The USMMA announced the end of the mandate Friday. According to the announcement, applicants for the class of 2027 “will be admitted without regard to their COVID-19 vaccination status.” The announcement also stated that the decision to rescind the mandate came “[i]n light of the Department of Defense’s vaccine mandate recission, and the availability of Sea Year training billets for unvaccinated Midshipmen on vessels, we reevaluated the need for the COVID vaccination.”

While the Department of Defense (DOD) rescinded its military jab mandate for all servicemen in January, the U.S. Merchant Marine is overseen by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and not impacted by the DOD’s decision.

The USMMA further announced that it will admit midshipmen who have opted not to take the shot but noted that “Commercial carriers’ COVID-19 vaccination policies vary, and their policies may impact a midshipman’s ability to train on a vessel if a COVID vaccine is required” in order to complete their “Sea Year,” when they train on commercial or military ships.

“The Academy will continually monitor carrier policies and alert a midshipman if their COVID-19 vaccination status will impact whether they can embark on a commercial vessel,” the announcement continued.

The USMMA’s announcement followed a letter Banks sent Tuesday to USMMA Superintendent Vice Admiral Joanna M. Nunan regarding the academy’s jab mandate. According to Banks, “As of today, the USMMA’s website says that ‘neither medical nor religious exemption requests will be accepted or processed for vaccination requirements.'”

“This statement appears to be a violation of your oath of office and an illegal attack on the constitutional rights of current and potential Midshipmen,” Banks added.

Banks ended his letter requesting that Nunan provide his office with all documents between USMMA officials and the DOT “regarding the USMMA’s decision to prohibit religious exemptions for its COVID vaccine mandate and punitive measures toward current or potential Midshipmen who did not comply with this mandate.”

In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Banks said “I’m glad that the USMMA and West Point ended their COVID mandates, but they should’ve done away with it a long time ago.”

“Tens of thousands of servicemembers have been fired or disciplined because of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mandate,” he continued. “It has been a disaster for our military’s morale, recruitment and readiness. I will continue to use my oversight authority to fight against any federal institution that’s still clinging to this outdated, harmful and divisive policy.”

Also last week, Banks stated at a press conference that the Biden administration was using the military jab mandate to “purge conservative service members from the military.” His office further confirmed that between 8,000 and 16,000 servicemen and women who did not seek an exemption from the jab mandate could still be fired.

Military attorney R. Davis Younts, speaking with Just The News, stated that the USMMA is the last service academy to drop its COVID jab mandate. Younts also claimed that the DOD is “still trying to find a way to kick people out who didn’t get” the jab, saying that in spite of the “science [and] possible adverse effects” of the jab, the White House and DOD continue to “push” for the jab, with the DOT “in lockstep.”

Younts told LifeSiteNews that the Department of Defense “is calling refusals without submitting an accommodation a failure to follow a lawful order. The DoD’s position is this — at the time the order to get vaccinated was given it was valid. They will take the position that they are not kicking people out for failure to get the vax but for misconduct for disobeying the order to get the vax.”

He affirmed that the situation at USMMA is similar to those other academies and added that “not many” servicemen and/or cadets still face the possibility of separation in spite of the rescinded mandates. “Most have left voluntarily or submitted an accommodation. I am currently not aware of any Cadets that fit this situation. Total servicemembers may be as high as 16,000 but I cannot confirm that number,” he said.

The USMMA announced its mandate in October 2021. Its graduates, speaking with Fox News, told the outlet that the academy shut them out of the dining hall, ostracized them from their friends, and segregated them in formation, in addition to making them social distance and wear masks.

A statement the academy released to the outlet stated, “During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy put in place precautions to ensure the health and wellbeing of all midshipmen, faculty and staff, and we disagree with any assertions that any member of our community was mistreated for any reason related to the pandemic.”

West Point ended its jab mandate last month after a report by the Daily Caller claiming that it had not done so and a letter from Banks and Florida Republican Rep. Mike Waltz to Gabe Camarillo, Undersecretary of the Army, asking about the Army’s jab mandate.

The USMMA did not immediately respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment.


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