Friday, May 2, 2014


U.S. MERCHANT MARINERS ARE PROLIFIC WRITERS.... ( Think: Mark Twain ,First Class Pilot; Richard Henry Dana, Able Seaman; Woody Guthrie, Ordinary Seaman in WWII and early backer of the National Maritime Union , just to name a few)

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Water Front, Photo:U.S. Dept. of Transportation
 The Schuyler Otis Bland Memorial Library , named for Schuyler Otis Bland, a Virginia congressman associated with the U.S. Merchant Marine Act and the formation of the Academy is located on the Richard R. McNulty  campus of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) at Kings Point, New York.  When you approach the library, one can not help but observe that engraved in plaster between the bottom of the roof line and the top of the windows are the names of many famous American writers. Those names etched into the structure of the Bland Library have something in common with each other; they all had service in the U.S. Merchant Marine. Some like Pilot ,Samuel Clemens (AKA "Mark Tawin") or Able Seaman Richard Henry Dana are well known for their maritime service. Others, such as Jack London (Ordinary seaman , inland boatman, fisheries patrol boat crewman, and yes, oyster pirate) are not commonly thought of as Merchant Mariners by the general reading public. Merchant mariners were writing long before the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was formed. But since it has been formed it has become a little easier to track the literary works of at least the alumni.

 Baltimore MAGI surveyor, AAB member, and Kings Point Alumni Bill Riley recently sent us a copy of more recent works by USMMA alumni. We thought we'd review a few of these and share them with you. The first one we picked really hit a familiar note with us, and addressed a pet peeve. We thought that we'd lead off our series of book reviews with this particular work. Instead we found that it is, in our opinion prematurely out of print. Since it is one of the rare detailed case studies of the issue of ill advised random drug testing program management by the U.S. Coast Guard, and the tragic and costly results that the flawed program brings into the lives of innocent professional mariners; as well as the as the yet unacknowledged by the Coast Guard problem of massive false positives, we found ourselves nothing short of alarmed that the book appears to be out of print. Sellers like Barnes and Noble still showing it but without a price, usually an indication that they don't have a copy in stock or know its sales price. The link below is to an actual copy that Amazon had on April 30, 2014 we double checked and the asking price is accurate at over $3,000 . Despite earlier board resolutions to never recommend a book that is priced at more than what any one of our directors could afford to pay, we decided to publish the link to the one existing copy for sale that we could find, and to review and publish. We do this in the hopes that some organization out there, perhaps a maritime union will assume the trouble and expense that it would take to make this book again available to the general market at a reasonable, perhaps print on demand price. Initial expenses would involve of course acquisition of a master copy, so far our best guess is the Amazon copy, its probably not flying off the shelf at over $3,000 . We do know that at least one library copy exists in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Library (Schuyler Otis Bland Memorial Library) . However even if more library copies are available the book is still under copyright. It was self published by the author but all of the contact information carried on the fly leaf is now obsolete and his publishing company seems to be out of business. We firmly believe for the reasons we describe below that mariners, ship managers, and admiralty lawyers should all have access to this autobiographical case study. We know through National Mariner Association contacts that problems with the Coast Guard's random drug testing program, as described below, are rampant. Every year dozens of respectable and responsible American commercial mariners are personally ruined or grossly damaged as a result of the unaddressed flaws in the Coast Guard's random drug testing program and uncorrected problems in the Coast Guard's Administrative law judge system. We publish in the hopes that some organization with an interest in justice for American mariners will pick up the thread and go tilt at this windmill. Based on what we know right now getting this important case study back into circulation is too expensive for the AAB or the NMA. But being difficult or expensive does not make the project unimportant

WARNING DON'T CLICK ON THE BOOK ICON HYPERLINK BELOW UNLESS YOU ARE PREPARED TO SPEND $3,105.55. We only publish it in the hope that we might find an organization willing to bring the book back into print. We feel this is an important case study on an important topic that has affected many American Merchant Mariners and continues to pose a threat to careers and ruins professional and personal lives. ( Actually if you do click on it you won't be automatically ordering the book, just looking at its Amazon page, you'd be at the page where you could order the book with quite a few additional key strokes, we don't mean to imply that you can accidentally order books here or at Amazon)

    We hoped the price is a misprint, it is not. . WARNING AMAZON PRESENTLY SHOWS PRICE AS $3,105.55

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: JK Marine; 1st edition (November 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976667606
  • ISBN-13: 978-097666760  Use the ISBN Numbers to facilitate a library loan

Editorial Review from Amazon: "Book Review The Good Lord Hates A Coward (An Account of Life As A Merchant Seaman) By Joseph J. Kinneary, Ph.D. (2005) Captain Kinneary is a man who, in recent years, has lived up to Rudyard Kipling's advice, keeping his head when all about him seemed to be losing theirs and blaming it on him. His 144-page book, published privately by his own company, JK Marine, for the most part begins its narrative with the author's entry into Kings Point in 1971, then charts a course through a seagoing career that, on December 27, 2001, was unexpectedly dashed on the rocks by a random drug test required by United States Coast Guard regulations. Kinneary has a documented medical condition known as shy bladder syndrome. Individuals suffering from this not-all-that-rare neurological malady find it extremely difficult, even impossible, to urinate under stressful conditions. At his December 2001 call up for random urinalysis, which occurred while he was employed as Master of a sludge tanker for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Kinneary was unable to produce a urine specimen within the allotted time. His on-the-spot offer to submit instead to blood testing was summarily rejected, and within a short time Kinneary found himself out of a job, with his license under attack, charged with refusal to submit to a urine test. In a real-life narrative eerily reminiscent of a George Orwell novel, Kinneary (who may suffer from shy bladder syndrome but who is not shy about discussing it) takes the reader through a disturbing saga of work suspensions, administrative hearings, medical benefit denials, and so forth: a plethora of bizarre and draconian consequences of a single failure to produce a specimen, which, collectively, can only be described as symptomatic of an administrative agency malfunction of the highest order. When one reads of the troubles thrust upon this experienced, learned mariner (he also holds a Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Rutgers) despite the fact that there was never the slightest indication that he had actually used any illegal drugs, one cannot help wondering whether the complex web of regulatory oversight that is being spun around maritime personnel in recent years can possibly be achieving its stated goal of increasing shipboard safety. The book is a must read for every seafarer, marine personnel manager, maritime lawyer, and concerned citizen. Jim Maloney" --The Fort Schuyler Mariner

About the Author

The author, Joseph J. Kinneary, is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He holds an unlimited US master mariner license and has served as a deck officer, including captain, on over 30 inland and ocean-going commercial vessels while sailing to all cornors of the globe. Mr. Kinneary has a Ph.D. in biology from Rutgers University and has published several scientific papers.

AMERICAN ADMIRALTY BOOKS OPINION: As Nautical arts and science instructors in various institutions we have on occasion come to the aid of former students caught up in exactly the same mess that Capt. Kinneary documents in his book. We know "shy bladder syndrome" is a frequent cause of running innocently afoul of the Coast Guard's ill conceived and abominably run random drug screen system, but it gets worse, false positives are so rampant that if a mariner, even a guilty one, can afford to get his case into Federal District Court, the Coast Guard's actions are highly likely to be over ruled and set aside. Besides the host of typical lab errors and evidence mislabeling and mistracking that any lab test based system is subject to,the urine test at least for marijuana is now considered totally unreliable and discredited by everyone except the Coast Guard. The FDA allowed some years ago the use of hemp oil as an additive in American foods, it is common in many cheese products and other processed foods, and along with sesame seeds, these two common dietary items mimic marijuana in the lab analysis of urine specimens.

 The National Mariner's Association and other maritime labor organizations have pointed this out to the Coast Guard many times but the information continues to be ignored. A mariner hauled before a Coast Guard administrative law judge has a 99% probability of conviction (vice 40% in most other Federal regulatory tribunals, but that's another story) and must go through seemingly endless levels of administrative appeals with the Coast Guard before he or she can claim to have "exhausted administrative remedies" and earn an expensive trip to federal court where almost all urine test based drug penalties are reversed based on the well documented unreliability of the test. The problem facing the mariner is that his occupational license and traditional source of employment are taken away almost immediately and he or she has no source of income to pay the endless lawyer fees and the filing fee if they ever get through the endless system of administrative appeals which the Coast Guard throws up as a block to the path to federal court.. The probability of reversal by a Coast Guard administrative appeal is exactly the same as for the original license suspension / revocation hearing , 99% against the mariner. The odds completely reverse themselves if the mariner can run the gauntlet to federal court . The cheapest solution, is to admit "guilt" even if you've never touched drugs, voluntarily surrender your license and submit to a Coast Guard directed rehab program. This can reduce the mariner's unemployment time from a minimum of three years to as long as seven years to about six months.  By not fighting the charge legally unemployment losses are drastically cut and the mariner eliminates all of the lawyer fees which can run to six figures. Frequently mariners carry "license insurance" which may pay for an initial defense which the mariner must put up to get the next element of this coverage, which is as much as a year of partial or full salary coverage. Not all license insurance covers drug related charges , but if you have it along with the income protection a lack of contest on appeal, or if you can get away with it, a "guilty plea" even if innocent makes economic sense when you know the real score going into a Coast Guard administrative law judge hearing. The U.S.Coast Guard ignoring all such information offered by maritime labor continues to run the program as described and claims their incredible conviction rate ( which runs across all manner of charges not just drug related) is the result of plea bargaining. Keep in mind that these are regulatory tribunals and administrative charges, not even misdemeanors in terms of criminal law, but the penalty is economic death, the loss of a hard earned and lucrative occupational license. Economics drives these so called "plea bargains", not the facts of the case.

 Reviewer Jim Maloney as quoted on the Amazon book page calls it a "must read" for for every seafarer, marine personnel manager, maritime lawyer, and concerned citizen.", we call it per our own standard system of ratings "RECOMMENDED" for the same audience that Mr. Maloney describes. Unfortunately as a matter of policy we never actually "RECOMMEND" books that cost more than any of our directors could afford for our personal library, that's our "affordability test". So we are stuck with saying that this autobiographical case study belongs on the shelves of every admiralty law firm library, in the libraries of every American Merchant Marine training institution, and on the corporate reference shelves of every American flag vessel operating company. Having said that, we realize we have hardly described a mass market. This book is what the Naval Institute calls a "back list publication", important in its own right but without the potential of real economic success. Sometimes knowledge needs a sponsor. Leave us a comment if you have any solid ideas on how this publication might find its way into the places where it needs to be ready at hand.

Johnas Presbyter, Editor AAB

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