Seafarer surrenders licence over sexual harassment allegations on Maersk ship
Electrician Paul Pagano hands over credentials before hearing over Midshipman Y allegations
A US seafarer has reportedly surrendered his credentials on allegations that he sexually harassed a cadet serving on an AP Moller-Maersk vessel.
Electrician Paul Pagano voluntarily handed over his merchant mariner’s licence last week after US Coast Guard Investigation Service filed a complaint against him for alleged harassment on the 6,000-ceu car carrier Alliance Fairfax (built 2005), according to Newsday. The ship is part of the fleet of Maersk Line Ltd, the Danish shipping giant’s US-flag arm.
The investigation against Pagano stemmed from allegations by a female cadet known only as Midshipman Y. The woman was on the Alliance Fairfax in 2021 as an 18-year-old student of the US Merchant Marine Academy, known as USMMA or Kings Point, serving her year at sea. She had reported several instances of harassment.
She alleged that Pagano suggested during a card game that she should take her clothes off to allow crewmen to slap her buttocks, attempted to slap her buttocks as a birthday present and repeatedly made unwanted physical contact, according to the Newsday report, legal filings and a Coast Guard case management report seen by TradeWinds.
TradeWinds has requested details of the case from the US Coast Guard but has yet to receive them. As TradeWinds has reported, Midshipman Y and Maersk reached an agreement in November to settle a lawsuit over the allegations. The terms remain confidential.
Pagano, who could not be reached for comment for this story, voluntarily turned over his credentials before a revocation hearing has set to begin. Among details that have emerged in the case was that Pagano, who lives in Florida, pleaded guilty in 2015 to a charge of battery. He served a year of probation, according to Newsday.
Midshipman Y’s lawyer, Ryan Melogy of Maritime Legal Aid & Advocacy, said he is proud of his client for standing up to Pagano, his employer and the US Maritime Administration (MarAd), which runs Kings Point.
“I find it absolutely appalling that MarAd sent her out to a ship with a man who had a criminal record relating to domestic violence,” he told TradeWinds. “I find it even more appalling that MarAd refuses to take responsibility for what happened to her and continues to promote the Sea Year programme to students and prospective students as ‘safe’ when it is obviously anything but safe. It’s difficult to understand that kind of moral rot within our own government.”
Maersk said Pagano no longer works for the company.
“Maersk applauds the actions of the US Coast Guard to hold mariners accountable for engaging in any form of illegal harassment,” Maersk Line Ltd said in a statement. “Maersk has a strict zero-tolerance policy for harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault and strives to ensure all mariners are treated with dignity and respect as they go about their jobs on ships that are psychologically and physically safe.”
Pagano is the second US mariner to hand over his license in a case of sexual harassment or assault of a USMMA cadet. Newsday reported that captain John Merrone surrendered his license last year following accusations of rape. MarAd did not immediately respond to TradeWinds’ request for comment on the case.
On Wednesday the US Transportation Department, which includes MarAd, announced the inaugural members of an advisory council for Kings Point that includes experts in sexual assault and harassment experts.
“For the past two years, we have been working to address urgent challenges at the USMMA, and to provide its cadets with the resources and support they need and deserve,” Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
“We are grateful to members of the advisory council for stepping up at this consequential moment and helping guide our continuing efforts to strengthen the Academy and ensure the safety and success of its students.”