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Ensuring Safety and Respect: The EMBARC Standards in Maritime Training



every mariner

Every mariner deserves to work in a safe and inclusive environment where everyone is welcome and supported, and their dignity is fully respected. To uphold these principles, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) introduced the Every Mariner Builds A Respectful Culture (EMBARC) Standards Program in December 2021. This program aims to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH) and other prohibited behaviors on commercial vessels at sea.

EMBARC Standards: A Commitment to Safety

The EMBARC Standards require vessel owners and operators to adopt specific policies and procedures before USMMA cadets can board their ships. These standards are crucial for advancing the safety and success of commercial at-sea training for cadets and strengthening safety for all mariners. The program applies to commercial, ocean-going vessel operators that carry USMMA cadets as part of the Sea Year Program and extends to State Maritime Academy (SMA) cadets on vessels that adopt the EMBARC Standards.

Key Components of EMBARC

  1. Policies and Procedures: The EMBARC Standards outline detailed protocols for preventing and addressing SASH incidents.
  2. Training and Education: Vessel operators must ensure that all personnel, including cadets, receive comprehensive training on the EMBARC Standards.
  3. Support Systems: Mechanisms for reporting and responding to SASH incidents are established, ensuring support and protection for victims.

Compliance and Implementation

Vessel operators must comply with the EMBARC Standards to participate in the program. This includes submitting the EMBARC Checklist and Statement of Compliance, which are subject to oversight by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under control number 2133-0553. To date, 22 carriers have enrolled in the EMBARC program, including major operators like Maersk Line, Limited, and Crowley.

Sea Year Program

The Sea Year Program is integral to the practical training of cadets, offering them real-world experience aboard various vessels. During this time, cadets gain essential knowledge and skills, preparing them for the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Credential examination.

Special Considerations for Training Ships

Recognizing the unique operations of training vessels, MARAD developed the Training Ship – Special Considerations for incorporating EMBARC Standards (TS-EMBARC). This adaptation ensures that training ships operated by SMAs or MARAD-assigned General Agents provide a safe environment for cadets through tailored SASH prevention and response measures.


The EMBARC Standards represent a significant step toward ensuring a safe and respectful working environment for all mariners. By setting rigorous policies and procedures, the program aims to eliminate SASH incidents and foster a culture of dignity and respect at sea. As the maritime industry continues to evolve, EMBARC will play a vital role in promoting safety and inclusion for future generations of mariners.

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