A second US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) student has filed a suit against Maersk Line Ltd, the US-flag unit of AP Moller-Maersk.

Filing anonymously as Midshipman Y, the academy sophomore is in court after her treatment on board the 6,000-ceu car carrier Alliance Fairfax (built 2005) last summer left her traumatised.

The treatment was so bad that she would eventually sleep locked in the bathroom with a knife.

“Before embarking upon her voyage on the Alliance Fairfax, Midshipman Y anticipated that her duties would be difficult and that life at sea would be an adjustment,” her lawyers alleged in the complaint filed in New York state court.

“However, she could not have anticipated that she would be repeatedly harassed, groped and threatened by much older and more physically imposing crew members while no one intervened to help her.”

Even her fellow shipmates felt she was being targeted for being a woman, the lawsuit alleged.

Midshipman Y joined the Alliance Fairfax in July 2021 as a deck cadet.

Shortly thereafter, she said the ship’s electrician began making sexual comments and touching her without her consent, sometimes in front of other crew members.

At one point, while Midshipman Y was playing cards with two other engine cadets, the electrician allegedly said: “You’re the only girl. We should pull your pants down, lay you on the table and let everyone slap your ass.” The comment was made in front of the engine department.

The student’s lawyers said in the complaint that she would have gone to the chief mate and captain, but the chief mate made her do extra work in the galley that her fellow male cadets were not assigned and, when boarding the ship for the first time, admonished her for attempting to introduce herself.

A US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) student runs with a football in a game against the US Coast Guard Academy. USMMA is based in Kings Point, New York. Photo: US Coast Guard

She also heard the captain and chief mate sharing what was described as a sexist joke.

The cadet did not have a key to lock her room, so she slept in the bathroom as that door did have a lock. When she complained she could not lock her door, she was given a jar of keys and told to find one, according to the complaint.

She could only find a master key.

By August, the cadet had requested to leave the ship, using the vessel’s patchy wireless internet to send an email to her academy training representative.

Upon hearing her request, the captain of the ship told her to call Maersk Line Ltd’s designated person ashore, who allegedly told her “this can’t keep happening” and appeared unsurprised.

Back at the academy, she was pressured into going back to sea in order to keep up her training time. She would get a second voyage aboard a US Navy ship.

Upon returning to the academy’s Long Island campus, the cadet went from being a top student to failing several classes and facing disenrollment, her lawyers said in the complaint. At one point she suffered a panic attack in the dining hall that would send her to the hospital.

“Faced with these ongoing and life-altering consequences of the electrician’s extreme sexual harassment, Midshipman Y feels as though her career [at] the USMMA, her career in the maritime industry, her mental and emotional health and her future are destroyed,” the complaint read.

Midshipman Y has alleged that Maersk Line Ltd should have foreseen the abuse, as she was on board with the electrician, who was known to be abusive and violent, and that her treatment violated several of the company’s binding policies.

Maersk Line Ltd was allegedly negligent and violated the federal Civil Rights Act and New York’s Human Rights Act, and the Alliance Fairfax was allegedly unseaworthy.

Midshipman Y was on board the same ship as Hope Hicks, also known as Midshipman X, who detailed her rape on board the Alliance Fairfax two years earlier in an anonymous essay published in September 2021.

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Hicks has also sued Maersk Line Ltd. The two intended to sue on the same day, but issues with Midshipman Y’s anonymous complaint set the lawsuit back.

Maersk Line Ltd said it does not comment on pending litigation, but that it has zero tolerance for assault, harassment or discrimination on its vessels.

The USMMA declined to comment.