Monday, 23 June 2008 US Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton and Gunther Keitel, Executive Vice President of Great American Lines have signed an agreement for cadets from the US Merchant Marine Academy and state maritime academies to take their training voyages on Great American Lines ships. The company runs two large cargo ro-ros, Sunbelt Dixie and Sunbelt Spirit under foreign flags. The agreement was signed on graduation day at Kings Point. Mr Keitel and Mr Connaughton are both graduates of the academy and the latter pointed out how different the employment situation is for today’s graduates than it was for him and his classmates. “Sixty-five percent of today’s graduates already have jobs sailing in the US maritime industry,” he said. “When my class graduated there were almost no jobs for us in the US industry.” Mr Keitel said, “We believe the increased diversity of ships being made available to cadets at Kings Point and the various state academies will provide a broader base of awareness of ship types and the associated complexity involved for operational and commercial success.” This agreement is the fourth such training agreement to be signed in the past year. Previous agreements were with APL, Overseas Shipholding Group and SeaRiver.