Maersk Line, Claimant Settle Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Image via Maersk.

Maersk Line Ltd. and Hope Hicks, a former midshipman on the Maersk ship Alliance Fairfax, have resolved Hicks’ litigation against the company filed in June for sexual assault and harassment during her cadet Sea Year in 2019.

Sea Year is the federal service academy’s mandatory training program.

 Attorneys for Hicks and MLL have mutually agreed that neither side will disclose details of their agreement, all parties said in a Nov. 18 announcement. Maersk Line is a U.S.-based subsidiary of A.P. Moller – Maersk, the global integrated logistics company.

“It is important to me that my case has brought greater awareness of the issue of sexual assault and harassment at sea,” Hicks said in a statement. “The leadership of MLL has expressed the need for change. The changes that MLL has proposed are an important first step, but there is still a lot of work to be done in the maritime industry.”

“We want to be absolutely clear that the events Ms. Hicks describes are unacceptable,” Maersk Line Ltd. CEO William Woodhour said. “No matter who and where you are, those who work with us must feel safe and protected in our work environment.”

MLL further stated that the company has initiated a full program of training, reporting and accountability internally and is working externally with all industry stakeholders, to include its industry partners, labor unions, the Maritime Administration, maritime academies and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Maritime Administration, which oversees the academy, temporarily halted Sea Year in November and later rolled out a series of reforms aimed at protecting students from assault and harassment.

Hicks filed her lawsuit against Maersk in June, days before graduating from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. It was filed after wrote a blog post describing her alleged assault on a Maersk ship in 2019, detailing how senior officers on the ship had forced her to repeatedly shots of liquor, and how she woke up the next morning bloody and bruised, immediately realizing that she’d been raped.

Hicks filed her lawsuit against Maersk days before her graduation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. There was also a separate lawsuit from another USMMA student, known as “Midshipman Y,” who said she was also repeatedly harassed and groped by older, male crew members on the Alliance Fairfax in 2021.

She has said that was so terrified of being sexually assaulted on the vessel that she slept in a locked bathroom with a knife.

The lawsuit brought by Midshipman Y is still ongoing as of the time of this magazine’s publication. Her attorney has said that private discussions to resolve the case are taking place.