USCG Issues Maersk Captain (Actually Chief Mate) 4 Month Suspension

DECISION AND ORDER Issued: April 20, 2022

By Administrative Law Judge: Honorable Michael J. Devine


For the Coast Guard

For Respondent


1.Respondent and the subject matter of this hearing are properly within the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard and the ALJ in accordance with 46 U.S.C. §§ 7703-7704, 46 C.F.R. Part 5, and 33 C.F.R. Part 20.

2.From on or about July 30, 2016, until January 16, 2020,Respondent was embarked on oceangoing deep draft vessels in operation outside of the United States for at least 566 days.

3.The Coast Guard bears the burden of proof in regard to all charges. Considering all of the evidence presented by both parties,I do not find sufficient proof by a preponderance of reliable and credible evidence of the allegations of misconduct in Charges1 and 2. Therefore,Charges 1 and2 (Misconduct) are found NOT PROVEN. Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Charge 5 allege the same conduct contained in Charges 1 and 2 and is also NOT PROVEN.

4.Respondent engaged in nonconsensual physical contact that constitutes assault and battery in regard to his actions and treatment of Deck Cadet 1.Therefore, allegations 1,2,3,4,and 5of Charge 3 (Misconduct) are found PROVEN by a preponderance of reliable and credible evidence.

5.Respondent engaged in nonconsensual physical contact that constitutes assault and battery in regard to his actions and treatment of Deck Cadet 1. Therefore, allegations 1,2,3,4, and 5of Charge 4 (Misconduct)are found PROVEN by a preponderance of the reliable and credible evidence.

6.Respondent engaged in teasing or hazing and harassing conduct including nonconsensual physical contact that constitutes assault and battery in regard to his actions and treatment of Deck Cadet 1. Therefore, allegations 1,2,3,4,5, 8,9,13,and 16 of Charge 5 (Misconduct)are found PROVEN by a preponderance of reliable and credible evidence.The allegations in paragraphs 10, 11, 12and 15ofCharge 5 do not constitute assault or assault and batteryof a government official and therefore are time barred under 46 C.F.R. § 5.55(a)(3). For the reasons stated in Section IV.B.2. a. and b.,allegation 17 of Charge 5 is NOT PROVEN.

7.The alleged aggravation in paragraph 10 of Charge 6 regarding alleged facts from a previous voyage cannot be used to create a basis for Charge 6 to be a violation listed in 46 C.F.R. § 5.61(a). Additionally, there is no physical contact alleged in Charge 6 and the entire charge is time barred in accordance with 46 C.F.R. § 5.55(a)(3). Therefore, Charge 6(Misconduct)is DISMISSED.

8.Respondent’s nonconsensual physical contact with Deck Cadet 1 found proven in Charges 3, 4,and 5 is an assault and battery without injury and constitutes “misconduct.” Appeal Decision 1218 (NOMIKOS)(1961); Appeal Decision 2171 (DEIBAN)(1979);Appeal Decision 2697 (JORY)(2010).

9.Respondent’s nonconsensual physical contact with Deck Cadet 1 found proven in Charges 3, 4,and 5constitutes interference with a government official in the performance of his duties. E.g.Appeal Decision 1418 (POPE)(1963); Appeal Decision 2452 (MORGANDE)(1987).

It is hereby ordered, Merchant Mariner Credential No. 000506406 and all other valid licenses, documents and endorsements issued by the Coast Guard to Respondent are SUSPENDED FOR 12 MONTHS, WITH FOUR MONTHS SUSPENDED OUTRIGHT AND 8 MONTHS ON PROBATION…Respondent must immediately surrender is Merchant Mariner Credential any any other Coast Guard-issued credentials to the U.S. Coast Guard….

Michael J. Devine
Administrative Law Judge
United States Coast Guard
April 20, 2022


Here is the link to the full opinion:

Oh man. Stinziano dude sounds like one f’d up individual. And he gets only 4 month revocation plus probation? I would hate to think he’ll go back out on any boat ever.


This trial testimony of the cadet:

Warning: it is long and quite graphic, for example:

Q: Ok, were there any situations involving movies?

A: Sometimes we would go to his room to watch movies and there was one movie I would consider slightly inappropriate I would say. I can’t remember the title of the film but It involved I believe cutting a baby out of a woman and then the baby was raped, that’s what I remember from the film.

Q: Ok, and what was the situation? How did it come about that you were watching this movie?

A: I can’t remember the circumstances why the film was played, But it wasn’t introduced as a film of that nature.

Q: Ok, so it was just the Chief Mate and the cadets in the room. And do you remember anything else about that film?

A: I think it started out as a sort of normal film, and then turned into this scene, it was pretty graphic of the woman getting cut open and the baby being raped.

Q: The baby was?

A: The unborn child, I believe was raped, I think I remember that detail.

Q: Ok. Ok. Do you remember a situation that occurred on the vessel that involved any kind of pen, or writing instrument?

A: Yes…

The offenses were sexual joking and hazing (paraphrased):

  1. On several occasions Chief Mate, with his hand, touched Deck Cadet’s buttocks, through clothing.

  2. On two occasions Chief Mate, pretending to make a joke in front of other crewmembers, approached Deck Cadet from behind and simulated performing a sex act by contacting Deck Cadet’s buttocks, through clothing.

  3. Chief Mate drew genitalia on Deck Cadet’s hardhat and required him to wear it in front of the crew.

  4. Chief Mate placed a pen in Chief Mate’s buttocks, and then held out the pen to Deck
    Cadet to indicate that it now smelled like Chief Mate’s buttocks.

  5. Chief Mate directed Deck Cadet to use nicknames when they spoke over the radio, wherein Deck Cadet was “butter cake” and Chief Mate was “daddy.”

  6. Chief Mate pretended to make a joke by threatening to punch Deck Cadet in the genitals.

Deck Cadet 1 testified that [Chief Mate] acted as if these behaviors were all “jokes,” and that he
did not consider [Chief Mate] to be acting with malice or that he was a rapist; however, Deck
Cadet 1 did not find them funny and these actions left Deck Cadet 1 feeling demeaned

Did the chief mate have his license suspended as well or will the master be the only one getting punished?

That allegation was contradicted by witnesses (other cadet).

With regard to the allegations that Respondent showed Engine Cadet 2 pornographic videos and photos, and showed him an explicit drawing, Engine Cadet 2’s testimony on these
subjects was very brief, and his statements were contradicted by the testimony of Deck Cadet 2… Respondent then produced testimony from an individual—Deck Cadet 2—who was purportedly present during these incidents, who denied that the events occurred.

No it wasn’t. There were two cadets who testified against Stinziano. Some of the 2nd cadet’s allegations were contradicted by a 3rd cadet. No one contradicted that he had shown this movie to Deck Cadet 1.

From Deck Cadet 1’s Testimony…this does not sound like a fun work environment. This does not sound like a very nice Chief Mate to work for as a cadet, imo.

Q. Okay. Okay, do you – what was your working environment, as far as how—if I may rephrase. You testified Chief Mate Stinziano was in charge of your hours and setting how, what type of work you did on the Idaho. What was that environment like with that?

A. At times the work hours could be rather egregious, I would say. On several occasions he had me working for over 24 hours. There was one occasion I remember, I believe there was a valve broken in the bow of the vessel, and I can’t remember exactly what we were doing. But we had been working on it, it had been like fifteen hours and we, and I requested some lunch. Chief Mate responded that he hasn’t eaten lunch yet, we shouldn’t have lunch. Eventually we were granted like ten minutes to eat and then we had to go back to work.

Q. And how, how did that make you feel?

A. I mean, a little demeaning, I didn’t make me feel great about myself. I felt I had been working rather hard. I just wanted to eat something before we got back to work.

Q. How did you deal personally with the work environment that you described here today in your testimony? How, how did you deal with that?

A. Could you be more specific, please?

Q. Emotionally, how were you able to get up in the morning, or in the afternoon, or in the evening, or whenever it was and show up and do your job?

A. I believe I just compressed my feelings and went throughout the day without thinking much of it, just trying to get through the vessel.

Q. And is this something that you learned somewhere? Is that, as part of, you know, your understanding of the culture of being cadet?

A. The culture is not to make much of an issue of anything because if you leave the vessel, odds are you won’t get a new vessel for a while. Then you’d be short sea days and you won’t be able to sit for your license, and you won’t be able to graduate. So [as a cadet] you just want to make it as seamless for the time as sea as possible so there’s no issues. You want to be as quiet as possible.

Q. And is that something that you were told? Did you see other people experiencing?

A. I was never officially told that by anyone of an official capacity. But it was passed on that you don’t make much of a noise about anything, just get it over with.

Q. To that point about not raising waves, and being the culture of just kind of getting through. I want to talk a little bit about the investigation that occurred from, we had heard testimony earlier and you are aware that Second Mate had filed a Complaint.

A. Um-hrm.

Q. And can you tell me a little bit about how that occurred and what was your involvement in that?

A. In terms of the whole day, or?

Q. Yes, well let me start out with a simpler question. When did you first learn that the 2nd Mate had filed a complaint?

Also, evidence obtained by the USCG (Deck Cadet 2’s transcript from KP) showed that Deck Cadet 2 was kicked out of Kings Point on an honor board, and during his testimony, when asked why he left Kings Point he perjured himself. He’s still at GLMA and can’t figure out how to get a license or apparently how to tell the truth.

The Deck Cadet is likely the same guy who runs the MLAA Instagram page and has been railing against this Stinziano for years.

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The 2nd Mate, not either Deck Cadet, is the MLAA guy who has definitely been railing against Stinziano for years…

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Well for some reason his Instagram page is quiet on this subject.

More from Deck Cadet 1’s testimony. He talks about getting a call from the USCG years later telling him there was a CGIS investigation into his time aboard the Maersk Idaho, and about the impact his experience working for Stinziano had on his life and his dream to be a Mariner. To me it’s very sad:

Q. Okay. Okay, and why did you agree to talk with the Coast Guard?

A. Well, I was slightly intimidated, it was a Special Agent that called me. So felt I had to go. I also felt the behavior on the vessel should be corrected, I should probably correct my statements. Because I, at the time, I had kind of suppressed the reaction to everything so that I didn’t think of it as a huge deal. But as I, as it went on, the effect of it was kind of wearing on me. It was just, I don’t know, it was an odd feeling, it just made me feel like less of a person I would say, the treatment I received on the vessel. And I just felt it was pretty tough, I didn’t want other cadets to experience it.

Q. And the treatment, when you say, “The treatment you received,” the treatment from Chief Mate Stinziano?

A. Yup.

Q. Okay, And when you talk about how it made you feel like less of a person, how else has it affected you in your daily life after the Maersk Idaho?

A. I well, when I left the vessel I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with that career path. I was pretty sure I wanted to leave the school. I didn’t, it just didn’t – because, it made me feel like I wasn’t strong enough, I guess, for the industry. Because I had assumed that was kind of how all vessels operated. So I felt like maybe I wasn’t cut out for it. So I just didn’t like the way it felt. I was pretty worn out, depressed, so I considered dropping out of school but I didn’t, I don’t know why I didn’t, but I didn’t. So I figured I’d give it another swing on the other two vessels. The other two vessels were okay. But then, when I graduated, I sought out employment on vessels because I, I mean, I had to, because of the [service] obligation. So I got enough applications in to [get] a waiver from the government to not to work on seagoing vessels.

Q. Okay, and why, what was the reason that you wanted to be a mariner?

A. I mean, it’s because I grew up on the water, my dad and I raced sailboats together, I always saw the ships, I loved the water, and I thought it would be a great career.

Q. And was the effect of your experience on the Maersk Idaho, what effect did that have on your dream to be a mariner?

A. It may be [that] I determined it probably wasn’t my ideal career path.

More from Deck Cadet 1’s trial testimony and I’ve heard this story about the pen, but I have not heard this story from the perspective of a first sailing cadet who had to watch and experience this happening to him on the bridge of cargo ship and it is honestly quite disturbing that a senior officer would do this to a young cadet. This is not right. And I don’t find this funny although surely some here do.

Q. Okay. Okay. Okay, do you remember a situation that occurred on the vessel that involved any kind of pen, or writing instruments?

A. Yes. There was an instance where someone was chewing pens on the bridge of the vessel. The chief mate was upset that somebody was chewing pens on the bridge of the vessel so he wanted to teach them a lesson. So he unzipped his coveralls, rubbed the pen in his buttocks region so it would smell like his buttocks. And then he asked me to smell the pen to confirm rubbed on his buttocks region and that way the suspect chewing the pens would at one point chew on the pen that smelled like his buttocks.

Q. So are you testifying that he physically, was there any physical contact, or did just get close to your person with this pen?

A. He, he, presented, he reached his arm out and presented it.

Q. Um-hmm. And you actually saw him –

A. Yes.

Q. – do the actions?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay.

A. He wanted to display that the pen was –

Q. And, sorry, go ahead.

A. Yes, he wanted it to be clear that the pen was being inserted into his buttocks.

Q. And was this interaction discussed elsewhere with other members of the either the cadet or other members of the crew? Did Chief Mate Stinziano mention this occurrence to other people?

A. I don’t remember to whom, but I remember there was another conversation regarding the pen.

Q. Okay. Was there ever any written notes put anywhere about the pen?

A. I think there, there were sticky notes, but I can’t remember if it was that incident or if it was prior, it was a prior attempt to dissuade the pen chewer.

Q. Okay. Okay. I just want to circle back a little bit, when we first started talking about the actual physical touching. And again, I apologize, I know this is difficult. But if you could explain to the Court how that situation occurred, where the touching occurred…

I figure the USCG report takes things in context. Therefore I quoted from the USCG report. Testimony taken out of context and at face value is not helpful.

Charges 1 and 2 were not proven. This was the charges by the second mate.

Charge 6 was rejected. This was the charge that included ‘movie’ watching.

Charges 3-5 were accepted. This was the humor in poor taste charges by Deck Cadet 1.

The testimony for charge 6 is titillating but as the investigator rejected it and the USCG report rejects it there isn’t much reason to read it in detail.

The “humor” in 3-5 are “assault and battery” and “violent” acts and appear to be clear sexual assaults, although somehow the judge decides they are only assault and battery. Again, not my kind of “humor.” But to each his own DeckApe.

Charge 6 involves Engine Cadet 2, not Deck Cadet 1. EC2 and DC1 both claimed to have been shown a film called “A Serbian Film” by Stinziano in Stinziano’s room. These were Cadets who were on the ship at different times. This leads me to believe Stinziano was in the habit of showing this film to cadets who were assigned to his ship, and not warning them about the nature of the film.

A baby is raped in the film and it has been banned in several countries. Again, not my kind of “humor” and not the level of professionalism I expect from ships’ senior officers.

The prosecution asked the judge to rule that A Serbian Film was pornography, and he declined to do so, saying, "During the hearing, the ALJ made a preliminary ruling denying the Coast Guard’s request for official notice that A Serbian Film was pornography, but deferred a final ruling. I still find this question is not a proper matter for official notice under 33 C.F.R. § 20.806 or Federal Rule of Evidence 201, and to the extent the Coast Guard motion seeks official notice, it is denied. There was significant evidence that the film contained pornography and graphic matters but in view of the finding that Charge 6 of the Amended Complaint is time-barred, the issue is moot.

Read about the movie Stinziano liked to show cadets for yourself. This is not someone I would want to send my teenage boy out to sea with.

What is your agenda? Clearly you have one.

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I think he’s the Second Mate.