In early WW2, how much of the merchant marine was American?

In early WW2, how much of the merchant marine was American?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

WW2, before the US entered, ran from 1939 Sep 01 to 1941 Dec 07. During this time, a lot of merchant vessels sailed in convoy to Britain.

I am wondering, of all the people who crewed those vessels, how many were American, versus how many were Canadian or British.

Note, I'm not asking for a death toll. I'm asking for a composition of them all.

Question: In early WW2, how much of the merchant marine was American?

Short Answer:

Sept 1939, The United States had 19% of the merchant ships and 27% of the tonnage relative to the British Empire, US, and France.

Detailed Answer

For the purposes of this question WWII started in Europe, Sept 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, and Britain and France, (and Canada) declared war on Germany.

Percentages are based upon Britain, and British Commonwealth being measured independently. Canada which had no merchant navy when they declared war on Germany Sept 10, 1939 (See Be low), is included because it is mentioned in the question. Percentages are based upon the set of Britain, USA, Commonwealth, and France being the total set. Raw numbers are given be low the percentages.

The outbreak of World War II, Sept 1939.

Ships Tonage UK 54% 54% US 19% 27% Common Wealth 18% 9% France 10% 9% Canada 0 0

Source: WWII Data Book

Countries with over a million tons of merchant shipping on the outbreak of World War II.

UK 6722 ships 17,891,134 tons USA 2345 ships 8,909,892 tons Japan 1609 ships 5,996,607 tons Norway 1987 ships 4,833,813 tons Germany 2459 ships 4,482,662 tons Italy 1227 ships 3,424,804 tons British Commonwealth* 2255 ships 3,110,791 tons Netherlands 1523 ships, 2,969,578 tons France 1231 ships, 2,933,933 tons Greece 607 ships, 1,780,666 tons Denmark 705 ships, 1,174,944 tons
  • British Commonwealth excludes UK which is measured independely, Soviet Union didn't meet the minimum requirement of 1 million tons capacity to be included in these numbers,

Canadian Merchant Navy: History
With regards to Canada specifically, Canada had no merchant fleet when WWII broke out. Canada had a small "informal" merchant navy built for WWI, but by 1930 it had disappeared. At the beginning of WWII, "within hours of declaring war" September 10, 1939 Canada began rebuilding the Canadian merchant fleet from the ground up. During WWII the Canadian merchant fleet played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic "bolstering the allies' merchant fleet due to high losses in the British Merchant Navy."

According to:

Prior to the beginning of World War II there about 55,000 civilian sailors employed in the U.S. merchant marine. This number increased to as many as 250,000 men who served in the U.S. merchant marine by the end of the war. A pre-war merchant fleet of 1,340 cargo ships and tankers expanded to at least 4,221 U.S. merchant ships by the end of World War II.

U.S. Merchant Marine

The U.S. Merchant Marine played a vital role in the Allied victory of World War II. They moved great quantities of war matériel from their principle source of supply across as many as 6,000 miles of ocean to the battlefronts of the Far East. They held to high standards and contributed countless accomplishments in every war throughout history, participating in landing operations in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps, from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima. President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized that winning the war would require many ships to carry much-needed supplies to the war front. He ordered the mass production of Liberty Ships and established the U.S. Maritime Service (USMS), in early 1938. The U.S. Merchant Marine Corps was officially founded on March 15, 1938, chaired by Joseph P. Kennedy (father of President John F. Kennedy). Cadet training was initially given aboard the government’s subsidized ships. Desperate for mariners at the onset of World War II, the U.S. Maritime Service officially accepted youngsters who were as young as 16 years old. Some who were physically impaired or unfit for the regular service went into the Merchant Marine. The prewar total of 55,000 mariners suddenly increased to 215,000 by virtue of the U.S. Maritime Service Program`s massive recruiting efforts. They also brought in retired seamen capable of shipping out immediately on the Liberty ships. In February 1942, the training was turned over to the U.S. Coast Guard, then soon afterward transferred to the War Shipping Administration, in July. Cadets went to sea after eight weeks of preliminary shore training. Cadets were paid $50 per month, but were still required to pay for textbooks and uniforms. Upon the third year of service the cadets were allowed to return to shore and work in the shipyards, and by the fourth year they were returned to sea again at $70 per month. The Merchant Marine Academy’s campus was dedicated by President Roosevelt on September 30, 1943, and is the only federal academy to display a battle standard, by virtue of its war dead. Graduation was as honorable and significant as graduation from West Point, Annapolis, or the Coast Guard Academy. At sea, the men’s lives depended highly on the rapidity of an individual’s response in a state of emergency. Drills were taken seriously as the Maritime Service strived to develop highly efficient emergency procedures. The individual seaman had within himself the power to save lives, his ship, and cargo if he acted quickly and intelligently. Living through the training under severe conditions unfortunately proved to be fatal for some of the men. On the front lines, the moment the ships left the U.S. ports, they were subject to attack by battleships, submarines, bombers, Kamikazes, sea mines, and land-based artillery. The cadets (still in training) took their books with them to sea. They were required to write reports immediately following incidents, describe the enemy craft, damages, their lifeboat voyages, and acts of heroism. Their harrowing reports included the endless attacks on 250 different vessels of which 220 sank. “All’s clear, secure” was the the mariner`s announcement before launching, yet never quite prepared for the attacks or the near misses. Standing regular watches, handling winches and cargo gear, cooking meals, checking engine room equipment, and manning the guns, was the life of a merchant marine. "Abandon Ship!" was not the cry they wanted to hear, but often did. Having ships blasted out from under them, hearing the anguished cries of their comrades upon attack, and witnessing drownings, were too many of the lessons learned the hard way at sea. During World War II, each fighting force was dependent upon the other. The Merchant Marine was no exception and was virtually responsible for putting armies and equipment on enemy territory. Transporting the nation’s cargoes in times of peace and prosperity, and in times of war and grave danger, were thousands of young men who volunteered for maritime service. They delivered troops, allied infantry, ammunition, food, tanks, bombs, airplanes, and fuel. “We Deliver the Goods” was their motto for the duration of the war. President Roosevelt, along with many military leaders, praised the role of the U.S. Merchant Marine, deeming them the "Fourth Arm of defense." Convoys using U-Boats (unterseeboot) were highly successful during wartime. The downside were the delays in waiting to assemble, taking a common, but more often longer route, reducing speed to match that of the slowest ship, and unloading because of congestion. Safety in numbers did not always apply however, the convoys cut cargo-carrying capacity by one third. The U-Boat convoys were often referred too as "wolf packs." One of the most dramatic acts of heroism occurred in the South Atlantic on the Liberty Ship [SS Stephen Hopkins] on September 27, 1942. The Hopkins engaged with the heavily armed German raider Stier and fought back valiantly. An engine cadet fired the last five shots available the Stier blew up and sank. The young cadet was killed by shrapnel and went down with his ship, along with 40 others. The 19 survivors set off on a 2,000-mile voyage to Brazil in a lifeboat, with only 15 arriving 31 days later. A high caliber of efficiency and courage marked the entire war campaign in the Southwest Pacific area. On land and sea the merchant mariners were fully involved in their duties including rescuing soldiers, and placing themselves in imminent danger, with constant exposure to the elements. Fully subject to government control, the critical role of merchant shipping determined what the allies could or could not do militarily. The war would have inevitably been prolonged for many months, if not years, had the ships and crewmen not participated to their highest capabilities. The U.S. escort ships were credited with the sinking of 48 German, two Italian, and 68 Japanese submarines. Proving to be critical logistically in support of the war effort, was the final assessment of the huge U.S. merchant fleet. Providing the greatest sealift in history between the production army at home, and the numerous fighting forces scattered around the globe was the merchant marine constituting one of the most significant contributions made to the eventual winning of the Second World War. General Douglas MacArthur said, “I hold no other branch in higher esteem than the Merchant Marine." While fully understanding the tremendous risks, the merchant mariners willingly went into mined harbors, so that they could bring the American troops home to their families. They faced the real hazards of wartime hostile actions, and as the war ended they carried food and medicine to millions of the world’s starving people. The Merchant Marine, motivated by their deep love of country and noted for valor, were mourned with the loss of 9,300 mariners killed at sea, 12,000 wounded, and 663 men and women taken prisoner. Sadly, the mariners suffered the highest rate of casualties with one in 26 killed in World War II. More than 12,400 mariners were awarded the Merchant Marine Defense Bar 143,000 mariners were awarded the Atlantic War Zone Bar and 111,000 Pacific War Zone Bars, were distributed accordingly.

In early WW2, how much of the merchant marine was American? - History

American Merchant Marine at War Records and Contact Information is NOT a government agency. We do not have your father's records. Read below how to get records for mariners and ships. We do have an extensive library with ship histories, information about sinkings, casualties, government documents and much, much, more.

Mariner Service Records
Veteran Status
Mariner Medals
Armed Guard Service Records
Headstone or Grave Marker
History of a World War II era ship
Ship Log Books
Photo of a ship
Frequently Asked Questions
Merchant Marine Jobs
Mariners listed in Immigration Records

Merchant Marine Service Records including Voyage Discharges from U.S. Coast Guard:

Include Name, Date of Birth, copy of Death Certificate if deceased, Social Security number, Address, and Z or Service number. The Coast Guard has records to the early 1900's.

Click on Record Request Form , Complete form and mail to:

Commanding Officer
USCG-National Maritime Center (NMC-41)
ATTN: Correspondence Section
100 Forbes Drive
Martinsburg, WV 25404

Service Records of mariner killed during World War II:

Old Navy/Maritime Reference
Archives I -Textual Services Branch
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20408

Service Records for U.S. Maritime Service, Military Sea Transportation Service, Military Sealift Command:

National Personnel Records Center-Civilian Records Facility has personnel and medical records of former Federal civilian employees from approximately 1900 to the present. Your letter should include:

Full name used during Federal employment
Social Security Number
Date of Birth
Name(s) of Federal employing agency(s)
Approximate dates of Federal employment, especially separation

Please state in your letter the information you are seeking. Your request must contain the individual's or authorized representative's signature.

National Personnel Record Center
111 Winnebago Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Service Records for Army Transport Service

U.S. Army Human Resources Command
1600 Spearhead Division Ave.
Fort Knox, KY 40122

Application for Merchant Marine Veteran Status DD214

Mariners in “ocean-going service” during World War II have Veteran Status. They may be entitled to a gravestone, flag for their coffin, and burial in a National Cemetery. Check with the Veterans Administration for medical and other benefits. Mariner or survivor should complete the following steps and mail to the proper address:

  1. Complete Form DD2168. Supply as much information as possible. You can download Application DD Form 2168 here. The Coast Guard address on the back of the form is not valid. Correct address is below.
  2. Include photocopies of discharges, identification, and other supporting documents.
  3. You will need the mariner’s signature or a certified death certificate. The Coast Guard will issue documents for a person listed as an official casualty without a death certificate.
  4. No fee required if service was between December 7, 1941 and August 14, 1945.
  5. Include check or money order for $30 payable to US Treasury if seeking veteran status for the period from August 15, 1945 through December 31, 1946.
  6. To receive a duplicate of the DD214

Where to Mail Application:

U.S. Bank Government Lockbox
1005 Convention Plaza
Attn: Government Lockbox, 979119
St. Louis, MO 63101

U.S. Army Transport Service Veteran Status:

US Army Resources Command
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue Dept 420 Fort Knox, KY 40122-5402

Application for Records of Medals and Decorations Earned

Written request identifying the mariner and your relationship to:

Deveeda E. Midgette
Maritime Administration
Mar-630, W25 -313
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590

Service Records of U.S. Navy Armed Guard or other Military

To order military documents from World War I and later, complete Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. You can find instructions and download the form at:
Service after 1950:

Service before 1950:

This form can be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63132, any National Archives Regional Archives, and veterans organizations or military installations.

The veteran or his immediate next-of-kin may be able to receive a duplicate of the DD214 via the Internet.

How can I order a headstone or marker for a deceased veteran?

You can find information about VA's headstone and marker program on or call 1-800-697-6947 To apply for a headstone or marker for an eligible veteran or service member, use VA Form 1330 available for download at the VA page. Many funeral homes also have blank forms.

How do I research the history of a World War II era ship?

American Merchant Marine at War,, has histories of most World War II era merchant and Army Transport ships. The histories vary from 2 lines to 20 pages. We cannot tell you in advance how much we have about a particular ship. We ask for a donation (minimum $25 to support our research and Web Site) made payable to:

T. Horodysky
27 Westbrook Way
Eugene, OR 97405

  • Ship Movement Report Cards, WWII
    These records consist of file cards for Merchant Marine ships having Navy Armed Guard on board, and some Army Troop Transports. Movement report cards detail the travel information of ships throughout WWII. They list ports of arrival, due dates, dates of arrival and departure, and convoy designations. Information you must provide: name of ship, dates of interest. Helpful Information: Convoy designation.
  • Records of Individual Convoys, WWII
    Operations of convoys and independent ships including detailed records of each convoy and activities of individual merchant ships. Information you must provide: Convoy designation or name of ship(s) participating in convoy and dates of convoy. Helpful information: places of departure and/or arrival of convoy and dates.
  • Armed Guard Reports
    Reports usually include U.S. Navy Armed Guard crew lists, voyage reports, data relating to armaments and supplies provided by U.S. Navy, correspondence relating to recommendations for medals for members of the Armed Guard crew, orders, etc. Information you must provide: name of ship, dates of interest (spring 1942 to winter 1945). Helpful information. ship's former name, if any.

Write to:

Modern Military Records Unit
National Archives at College Park
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001

They will respond with an estimate of the cost of the research. Include in your letter the full name, address, and telephone number of the individual making the request. Please note: When making a request, do not send payment until you receive a price estimate/order form.

National Archives ask that you limit your requests to 5 items per letter . Upon receipt of your request, they will survey the records and send you a price estimate/invoice for obtaining copies. Once you return the invoice with your payment, they will then send you the reproductions. You should allow at least 10-12 weeks for this process - from the date you send your initial request to the final receipt of reproductions.

Ship Log Books for ship voyages are kept at a National Archives Regional Center closest to the port at which the ship ended its voyage. National Archives Regional Centers

Initial Inquiry : Reference Services Branch, National Archives, Washington, DC 20408

Commanding Officer
USCG-National Maritime Center (NMC-421)
ATTN: Correspondence Section
100 Forbes Drive
Martinsburg, WV 25404

Mariners listed in Immigration Records

Both pasengers and crew were listed in Immigration Records now in the National Archives. You can search for a mariner at (paid subscription, but 14 day free trial available).The following lists (which are not complete) are available:

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948
Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1943
California Passenger and Crew Lists, 1893-1957
New Orleans Passenger Lists, 1820-1945
Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1800-1945

I'm working on my family tree and am not sure if the person is living.

To search for names of people who might have died in between the 1930's and early 1990's visit Rootsweb. You can search by first and last name the database lists Social Security number, date of birth, date and state of death, last zip code.

To look for a living person, especially with an uncommon name, check a "White Pages" search engine such as or or or

U.S. Government publication on how to obtain birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates Where to Write for Vital Records

Commercial enterprise to request birth, death, marriage certificates or 800-255-2414

If your question is not answered above, please write to:

Retired World War II Merchant Mariner Reminisces About His Training at the Sheepshead Bay Merchant Marine Training Center—Now the Kingsborough Community College Campus

Paul Lieb was among the first Merchant Marines to set foot on the grounds of the Sheepshead Bay Merchant Marine Training Station, when shortly after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard purchased 125 acres of property on the eastern tip of Brooklyn for a huge training center. Seventy-six (76) of those acres were set aside for the Sheepshead Bay Maritime Service Station, now the campus of Kingsborough Community College.

Mr. Lieb, who currently resides in Albany, visited the campus with his daughter, Elise Laurenti in 1980, when she joined KCC as an English professor. “When I came here to teach at KCC, I had no idea how remarkable a coincidence it was until my parents’ visit to the campus so they could see how lovely it was,” said Prof. Laurenti. “My father pointed out where the training vessels had docked, and where he had learned to become a seaman. He also gently touched his finger to the names on the bronze plaque of those men who perished and with whom he had trained.”

On a trip down memory lane this past Memorial Day, Mr. Lieb shared warm and poignant memories with his family of the three years he spent as a Merchant Marine. At age 17 when he joined the Merchant Marines, he would be among more than 100,000 men who received their training at the station during World War II.

Speaking fondly and with pride of his time at the Marine Training Station, Mr. Lieb was steadfast in what dedication meant to him, and to the men served alongside him. “It was about keeping the country safe, keeping the war away from it, and preserving the future of America,” said Mr. Lieb. “Everyone had a specific job, and we relied on each other to be safe and successful.”

Training consisted of early morning exercises in very cold weather including the practice of lowering rowboats into the water, classroom exercises, as well as physical training—calisthenics, boxing, and swimming—which they had to be able to do for a certain distance underwater. They also had to jump from a 15-foot tower into water that had been set afire, and learn how to splash their way through into clear water. Raised in a kosher home, Mr. Lieb also had to adjust in other ways as he found himself eating food he had never had before, such as sausage.

After completing training, the Merchant Mariners selected the careers they wanted to pursue Mr. Lieb became a radio operator, later studying to become a purser/pharmacist so he could find work on ships when he was unable to ship out as a radio operator.

KCC Maritime Technology Program Director Anthony DiLernia appreciates the history that contributed to the war effort. “Many of the wartime cadets went on, after the war, to lifetime careers at sea, as do a number of our current graduates,” said DiLernia. “Among the first things they are taught, much like the Merchant Marines were taught years ago, is that safety and survival at sea are critical elements of training. For training then, cadets jumped off a tower into the water that had been set afire. Today, students must jump off the high board into the pool wearing survival suits, and then swim to and climb into a life raft. The only difference from the old days is that we don’t set the pool on fire!”

Kingsborough’s Maritime Technology program trains men and women for marine related careers ashore and at sea. Graduates work in a variety of shore-side positions including marina managers and service technicians, vessel service and repair, boat retail and wholesale sales, equipment sales and environmental consulting. At-sea positions focus on employment in the “brown water” or near shore industry, including tug and towing, municipal and private ferries, local, state, and federal law enforcement, firefighting, private yacht, dining, and entertainment vessels.

About Kingsborough Community College

Kingsborough Community College serves approximately 14,000 full- and part-time students a year in credit and non-credit bearing courses in liberal arts and career education. As one of the City University of New York’s seven community colleges, Kingsborough provides a high-quality education through associate degree programs that prepare students for transfer to senior colleges or entry into professional careers, and is dedicated to promoting student learning and development as well as strengthening and serving its diverse community.

A Short History of the Maritime Administration

Established in 1950 under the auspices of President Harry S Truman’s Reorganization Plan No. 21, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) traces its origins to the Shipping Act of 1916, which established the U.S. Shipping Board, the first Federal agency tasked with promoting a U.S. merchant marine and regulating U.S. commercial shipping. Congress enacted the 1916 law in part because of the severe disruptions in shipping caused by World War I. Specifically, Congress established the Shipping Board “…for the purpose of encouraging, developing, and creating a naval auxiliary and naval reserve and a Merchant Marine, to meet the requirements of the commerce of the United States with its Territories and possessions and with foreign countries to regulate carriers by water engaged in the foreign and interstate commerce of the United States.

The U.S. remained neutral for nearly three years after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia in 1914, plunging Europe into what came to be known as the “Great War.” The first loss of an American merchant ship in World War I occurred on January 28, 1915, when a German cruiser destroyed the William P. Frye, which was transporting wheat to Great Britain. Germany quickly apologized for the incident but Americans were outraged. Tensions grew when a German submarine sank the British ocean-liner Lusitania in May 1915, taking 1,195 of its 1,959 passengers and crew down with it, including 128 Americans. America’s oceans could no longer isolate the country from European hostilities as they had for more than a century. After more shipping losses, the Shipping Board’s focus of meeting peacetime shipping requirements was eventually overshadowed when the U.S. declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Under the provisions of the Shipping Act, the Shipping Board created the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC). The EFC organized a massive ship and shipyard construction program and acquired, managed and operated ships on behalf of the Shipping Board. The war ended before the construction program reached full capacity however, ships continued to be built until 1921 by which time nearly 2,300 had been completed. This vast program resulted in a postwar surplus of vessels, which spurred a lengthy depression in the industry. In response, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which had varying degrees of success. In 1928 the EFC was renamed the Merchant Fleet Corporation and in 1930 both it and the Shipping Board were absorbed into the Department of Commerce as the United States Shipping Board Bureau.

Six years later Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, creating the U.S. Maritime Commission, which assumed the duties, functions, and property of the Shipping Board Bureau. This seminal legislation governs many of the programs that support the American maritime industry to this day. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. (father of President John F. Kennedy) as the Commission’s first chairman. Like its predecessors, the U.S. Maritime Commission was charged with advancing and maintaining a strong merchant marine to support U.S. commerce and defense. The Commission regulated ocean commerce, supervised freight and terminal facilities, and administered construction and operational subsidy funds for private commercial ships. The Act also authorized the Commission to design and construct 500 modern merchant ships over a 10-year period, beginning with the transatlantic liner America. This construction program was well underway when war broke out again and the Commission found its peacetime purpose transformed just as the Shipping Board’s had been in 1917.

In 1942 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the War Shipping Administration (WSA) in response to America’s entrance into World War II. Executive Order 9054 effectively separated the Maritime Commission into two parts the Commission to design and construct ships and the WSA to acquire and operate them. Although administratively separated, the two agencies worked closely together. The Chairman of the Maritime Commission, Admiral Emory S. Land, also served as WSA’s administrator. Between 1941 and 1946, the Maritime Commission and WSA managed the greatest industrial shipbuilding and ship operations effort ever seen. Nearly 6,000 merchant vessels and naval auxiliaries were constructed, with the WSA routinely managing the simultaneous operations, repair and maintenance of thousands of ships. With the war’s end, the government dissolved the WSA and transferred its functions back to the Maritime Commission in 1946. Under the Merchant Ship Sales Act, several thousand ships were sold or disposed of, while retaining a nucleus of reserve shipping known as the National Defense Reserve Fleet.

In 1950, acting on President Truman’s recommendations in Reorganization Plan No. 21, Congress eliminated the U.S. Maritime Commission and divided its functions between the newly-established Maritime Administration and the Federal Maritime Board (FMB), both placed within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Maritime Commission’s subsidy and ocean shipping regulatory functions were transferred to the FMB, while the Commission’s remaining promotional and government-owned shipping interests were vested in MARAD. In 1961, as part of Reorganization Plan No. 7, the FMB became an independent regulatory agency and was renamed the Federal Maritime Commission a title it retains to this day. The subsidy functions returned to MARAD in the form of the Maritime Subsidy Board, which reported independently to the MARAD Administrator. The 1961 reforms are the basis of MARAD’s current organizational structure.

In 1981, MARAD was transferred to the Department of Transportation, completing the consolidation of all Federal transportation programs into one cabinet-level department. MARAD is still charged with promoting the development and maintenance of a strong merchant marine for the national defense and development of its foreign and domestic commerce. To that end, MARAD operates the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, and provides and maintains training ships and funding for the six state maritime academies that include: the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy California Maritime Academy Maine Maritime Academy Texas Maritime Academy and Great Lakes Maritime Academy. MARAD also continues to own and operate a fleet of government-owned cargo vessels to support national security requirements. These gray-colored ships of the Ready Reserve Force are strategically positioned in ports around the nation and are readily identifiable by their distinctive red, white and blue stack bands.

What are these WWII Campaign Ribbons for?

My grandfather served in WWII (also possibly before the war) and I recently came across some campaign ribbons that I cannot identify. I looked at the U.S. military heraldry website and through an illustrated guide of military ribbons. One ribbon matched up to an AFROTC award, but that doesn't seem correct given the WWII time period. My grandfather also served with the Coast Guard Reserves after the War.  Can anyone tell me what these ribbons are for? Thanks!

Re: What are these WWII Campaign Ribbons for?

Do you have any other information on the individual you are seeking such as name, DOB, place of birth?

The bottom picture light blue bars and two solid blue ribbon is considered CG  Auxiliary Member Service Ribbon.

Green Ribbon with yellow lines and single red line middle of ribbon is considered AFROTC ( Commendation Award).

The ribbon with the stripe blue/white/red solid yellow middle is also an AFROTC ( Arnold Air Society Hagan Trophy Ribbon).

Red sides and yellow middle strip may be the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA Academy Unit Commendation).

Re: What are these WWII Campaign Ribbons for?

Thank you for your reply. I'm the one who was seeking info about the 215th GFAB. Just trying to fill in more pieces of the puzzle. These ribbons don't seem to fit neatly in my puzzle. Only the Coast Guard ribbon makes sense as part of my grandfather's military history, and that was post-war. He never went to a military academy and was not in an ROTC program. In fact he entered the military with only three years of high school. It seems the Arnold Air Society wasn't even formed until 1947. I must conclude they are not related to his WWII service. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Re: What are these WWII Campaign Ribbons for?
Thomas Richardson 16.08.2020 15:24 (в ответ на Alisa Goetz)

Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

The ribbon images you submitted do match with some U.S. Coast Guard and Merchant Marine service ribbons from the World War II-era. However, not all ribbon designs and color schemes are individually unique. Some have been repurposed and utilized by other service branches over the years and can cause some confusion when verifying their authenticity.

The two-tone blue ribbon is a Coast Guard Auxiliary Member Service Ribbon given to those who have served for at least five years in the USCG Reserves. Appurtenances are added for every five years of service after the initial ribbon. The yellow ribbon with red, white and blue edging is currently recognized as an Honorable Discharge Commemorative Ribbon, but given the three bronze service star appurtenances, it could also be a campaign ribbon of some type. The red, white, and blue stripes are common for service in or around the Philippines during World War II so if he served in the Pacific, it is possible he received a campaign ribbon for overseas service.

The red and yellow ribbon is indeed a Merchant Marine medal issued during World War II and it was common for Coast Guard service members to receive a Merchant Marine medal if they met the criteria.

The blue, white, red, and yellow ribbon with bronze service stars could possibly be an American Defense Service Medal if he served between September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941. Bronze star devices were authorized on the ADSM ribbon in lieu of clasps that were given for duty in a fleet, base, or posting outside the continental United States.

After searching through online sources, the green, yellow and red ribbon is indicative of an Air Force ROTC commendation ribbon, but this would not fit within the time frame and service type of your grandfather in the Coast Guard. This possibly could be another auxiliary ribbon that is no longer routinely issued. If you have questions about Coast Guard awards, you may visit the USCG Personnel Services Division website and read the Coast Guard Military Medals and Awards Manual for more information.

If he did serve with the Merchant Marine or Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine Personnel and Licensing Records dated prior to 1968 in the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (Record Group 26) are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). Please contact RL-SL via email at [email protected] .  Include the name, date of birth, dates of service, "Z" number, and date of death, if known, in your request.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.

We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

Re: What are these WWII Campaign Ribbons for?

Hi Alisa, not sure if this will help with any ribbons you might have from your grandfather's service, but below are the awards for my dad. I think they were in some of the same campaigns. These are Good conduct, European-African-Middle Eastern campaigns, Victory medical and Purple Heart. Hope this is of some help. joan

19th Century American Merchant Marine Digital Library

This collection, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be a digital repository of over 120,000 pages of material available online. The project centers on merchant vessels of the nineteenth century, the people who owned and sailed them, and the records pertaining to them. Merchant ships were the backbone of the American economy and culture through the nineteenth century. They carried supplies, building materials, trade goods, and luxury items to and from ports throughout the country and the globe, and they brought millions of immigrants to this country. America’s contact with the rest of the world, prior to transoceanic cable, was primarily maintained via the merchant marine. Merchant traders established cities, opened frontiers, negotiated alliances, and distributed ideas, culture, and technology.

Ship Registers

Given the merchant marine’s important role, it is not surprising that the majority of the Museum’s research requests relate to merchant vessels in some way, and involve the use of such specialized materials as ship registers, ships’ plans, and archival collections. Of these, the ship registers are the most heavily utilized by our staff and the public. Produced for shipping companies and insurance firms, merchant ship registers document vessels’ names, size, captains’ and owners’ names, home ports, type, date and place of construction, materials used in building, and other vital information needed in studying their history. In many cases, these registers represent the only record of a particular vessel’s existence. Of the literally tens of thousands of American vessels which once plied our waterways, only a tiny number have survived, most having been broken up or otherwise lost to history when they reached the end of their useful life. Their builders, many of them anonymous, have died or gone out of business, and their models and plans, if any existed, have disappeared as well.

Much of the research done at the G.W. Blunt White Library and other maritime research libraries involves ship genealogy: verification of a ship’s identity and some salient facts about it. As a consequence, most books and articles written on maritime subjects (nautical archaeology, shipbuilding, marine commerce, etc.) cite ship registers, such as Lloyd’s Register of Ships or the Record of the American Bureau of Shipping, to verify the facts about the ships involved. While no book or article is based solely on the registers of ships, the registers hold critical information that simply cannot be found elsewhere, and which in turn unlocks other sources, such as logbooks, manuscripts, ships’ plans, maps and charts, and photographs and paintings.

Aside from their usefulness in scholarly and artistic endeavors, ship registers are currently in great demand because of the growing interest that the general public is showing in the research of personal family history. Prior to the mid-twentieth century, the only way that emigrants from most countries could make their way to America was by ship. As people delve into their past, they not only want to know from where their ancestors came, but how they eventually reached their destination. Once a person determines the identity of the vessel that brought their ancestors to this country, we can tell him something about it. Published ship registers are always a critical piece in establishing the identity of the vessel being researched. Once this information is known, the researcher can begin exploring primary and secondary sources associated with the vessel in question. The information in the registers, in fact, helps to “link” a vessel to other primary sources such as marine insurance records, logbooks, and business papers. Knowing how to use the registers to get to the information contained in the manuscript collections is an essential part of maritime research.

Unfortunately, many of the registers are rare due to the original use for which they were created. They were not meant to be historical documents but, rather, annual records of the vessels that were in existence at that point in time. Once the registers were out of date, they were usually discarded. Luckily, some individuals retained copies year after year, but most did not. One of the great drawbacks in maritime research today is the fact that no institution holds a complete set of American ship registers for the nineteenth century. With the help of such institutions as The Mariners’ Museum, the Maine Maritime Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Library of Congress, we have gathered up volumes missing from our collection. Through digital technology and cooperation with our sister institutions, we hope to prevent the loss of vital information, and simultaneously create a complete “virtual” run of nineteenth-century ships registers, beginning with the initial published register in 1857 and continuing through 1900, and make the approximately 50,000 pages of registers available to all. The great advantage of creating the complete run of registers digitally and delivering them via the World Wide Web is that they will be simultaneously available to all of these institutions, as well as to the general public, something not possible in paper or microfilm formats.

Primary Sources

Researchers and scholars using these collections and registers do employ secondary sources to help put the material in the context of the time. However, the primary documents form the basis of new scholarship. Mystic Seaport’s collections relating to the nineteenth-century American merchant marine have tremendous significance and depth in terms of subject matter, document types, and stories. They span the maritime worlds of shipbuilding, China trade, slave trade, whaling, European trade, port embargoes, etc., and contain all types of shipping documents, legal documents, ships’ logbooks, letters to agents and captains, and personal papers of all sorts. These collections tell thousands of stories and provide abundant raw information for anyone willing to examine them and work with them. These materials have been thoroughly cataloged and in digital form could be put to use immediately. Many secondary sources that are required to fill out the necessary background might be found elsewhere in other libraries. The raw material-the primary documents, registers, and rare books from our collection-cannot be found elsewhere and will make up more than 50,000 pages of images in this digital library.

Collections such as the David Gelston Papers are available for the first time to the scholarly community in general. Utilized mainly by maritime historians in the past, these invaluable papers tell a much broader American story than the maritime one alone. Consider that Robert Albion, in his book, The Rise of New York Port, states that the New York Customs House was the principle source of revenue in the Federal Government, and that by 1828 the duties collected there were enough to pay the government’s running expenses, excluding the interest on our national debt. Gelston was the collector between 1801 and 1820 and was originally appointed by Thomas Jefferson.

Broad political issues also lie buried within the documents of this collection. The Connecticut vessel L.A. Macomber was lying at anchor off Nantucket shoals on June 17, 1863 when she was captured and destroyed by the Confederate Bark TACONY. At the time of her destruction the MACOMBER had been out fishing for over a week and had on board approximately 2/3 of a cargo of fish. Frederick A. Holmes, an attorney from Mystic River, Connecticut, represented the complainants, i.e., the owners and crew of the vessel, before the ALABAMA Claims Court (circa 1874-1876). This is not the only Civil War-related case in the collection. The merchant marine is represented in other wartime documents as well. Fulwar Skipwith was the U.S. consul-general and commercial agent in Paris, France. He later served as governor of the province of West Florida and in the Louisiana Senate. The papers assembled here pertain to claims against the French Government he made on behalf of shipowners whose vessels were confiscated or destroyed by the French Government during the Quasi-War with France between the years 1798 and 1801. Visit the following link to the National Archives website for further information on French spoliation claims.

Buried in our collection of primary materials are thousands of research papers waiting to be written. Making the collections more accessible will hopefully result in wider use and greater publication.

Rare Books and Reference Works

Maritime jargon and practices require the researcher to understand nuances and terminology that can be gained only from experience or reference materials. What we are able to offer in this context online are the latter. From Douglas Stein’s American Maritime Documents, 1776-1860 that describes and illustrates documents crucial to the maritime trades, to James Folsom’s Mariners’ Medical Guide that was written “having in view the wants of the mariner at sea,” the works presented here will help to define materials and concepts that are foreign to the uninitiated. Also included in this category are 19th-century marine dictionaries, books on navigation, as well as an 1844 edition of Richard Henry Dana’s Seamen’s Friend a handbook of seamanship and the rights of sailors. The collection of books will continue to grow and will address such aspects of maritime history as commerce, immigration, shipbuilding, whaling and fishing in such a manner that will add to the body of works not readily available from non-specialized collections. It remains a goal to offer books that will continue to illuminate the content of our primary collections.

In early WW2, how much of the merchant marine was American? - History




The War Shipping Administration was established by Executive Order 9054 on February 7, 1942, under the first War Powers Act 1941 within the Office for Emergency Management, Executive Office of the President. The Administrator, appointed by and responsible to the President, was named on February 9, 1942.

Under the terms of the Executive Order, as amended, the War Shipping Administration was authorized to control the operation, purchase, charter, requisition, and use of all ocean vessels under the flag or control of the United States, except combatant vessels, auxiliaries, and transports of the armed services and the vessels engaged in coastwise, intercoastal, and inland waterways transportation, which were under the control of the Director of the Office of Defense Transportation.

This report covers the operations of the War Shipping Administration from its inception to December 31, 1943, in general, but more particularly in detail for the 1943 calendar year and in some instance the early part of 1944. Many of the accomplishments of WSA must remain covered by the cloak of national security.

No report can reflect the full credit due the men and women who have built and who have sailed our fighting merchant ships into the very teeth of our enemy. Their story is being written in the successful efforts of their brothers in the armed services. Our merchant seamen have delivered the goods, on time and enough.

Sincerely yours,


War and Ships

The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 immediately imposed upon the maritime industries of the United States unprecedented problems in ship operations and shipbuilding. When the full impact of the war struck the United States directly with the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American Merchant Marine was confronted with responsibilities of such magnitude as to make kany appraisal of the job ahead seem incredible.

Under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, the United States Maritime Commission was established as an independent agency to direct and control all phases of overseas shipping and shipbuilding. It became apparent immediately when this Nation entered the war that a special agency to deal with the operational problems peculiar to war was necessary to supplement the Maritime Commission. That need brought about the creation of the War Shipping Administration on February 7, 1942, which took over from the Maritime Commission virtually all of the Commission's major statutory functions with the exception of shipbuilding. Thus WSA became the Government's ship operating agency and the Maritime Commission its shipbuilding agency.

When WSA came into being, it faced immediately an acute shortage of American flag tonnage. The entire ocean-going dry cargo merchant fleet, placed under WSA control at its inception, was approximately 900 dry cargo ships aggregating about 6,700,000 deadweight tons and about 440 tankers of approximately 5,150,000 deadweight tons, a total of 1,340 ships of 11,850,000 deadweight tons. This was but a slight increase over the merchant fleet under United States control before the start of war in Europe.

Prior to April 18, 1942, when all American flag vessels were made subject to requisition and operation by the Government, cooperation by American ship operators in the transport of military, lend-lease, and other cargoes had been principally on a voluntary basis. The Maritime Commission had established

a Division of Emergency Shipping to supervise and direct movement of both import and export cargoes but the active participation by the United States in the war necessitated total Government control of all oceangoing tonnage.

The result of the general order of April 18, 1942, was to make all ships subject to requisition by the War Shipping Administration. Qualified ship operators became operating agents for the Government. By the end of 1943 there were approximately 130 American ship operators serving War Shipping Administration in that capacity.

WSA Faces Hug Job

WSA's Major Responsibilities

Department and the Foreign Economic Administration for shipments to Latin American and other countries.

During 1942 and early 1943 the Nation and WSA faced a most crucial period. Increasing participation by the United States in the war in both Europe and in the Pacific created continuously growing demands for tonnage. The submarine menace, particularly in the Atlantic, was taking a heavy toll of United Nations ships, including a considerable percentage of American flag vessels.

The public felt the impact of war as ships were withdrawn from normal trade in rubber, coffee, spices, aluminum ore, sugar, and other commodities. War came to the United States as tankers burned in sight of our Atlantic Coast cities. Homes were cold, and there was no second cup of coffee.

Efficient use of United Nations tonnage through cooperation principally between the United States and Great Britain, with the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board as the coordinating agency, was adopted to eliminate overlapping or duplicating use of the dwindling supply of ship tonnage.

Not Too Little--Nor Too Late

have been satisfied. Coffee was removed from the ration list and sugar rations were increased. America was winning the war of transportation.

During 1943 shipments from the United States totaled 46,971,000 long tons (2,240 pounds) of dry cargo--42 percent more than in 1942--and the total of petroleum products carried by tankers to the battle fronts was 15,086,000 long tons.

Exclusive of Army and Navy shipments, WSA controlled ships carried 278,432,000 long tons of dry cargo. This includes lend-lease and civilian commodities and is an increase of nearly 2,000,000 tons over similar dry cargo carried in 1942. The destinations of this dry cargo are shown in the following tabulation:

Ocean-borne shipments from United States in dry cargo vessels by foreign trade area of destination 1942 and 1943
[Tons of 2,240 pounds. Excludes U.S. Army and Navy cargo]

Area of destination 1942 1943
Total all areas 25,809,000 27,432,000
Atlantic short trades 3,047,000 369,000
Caribbean 4,143,000 3,199,000
East Coast South America 1,684,000 1,547,000
Pacific short trades 1,379,000 1,256,000
West Coast South America 464,000 512,000
United Kingdom and Eire 6,646,000 9,736,000
Russia--trans-Atlantic 938,000 542,000
North African theater 932,000 1,648,000
West Africa 315,000 288,000
South and East Africa 438,000 533,000
Red Sea and East Mediterranean 2,061,000 1,483,000
Persian Gulf 1,152,000 1,847,000
India and Ceylon 1,088,000 1,427,000
South and Southwest Pacific 769,000 1,055,000
Trans-Pacific Russia 645,000 1,973,000
Scandinavia 17,000 17,000
Dutch East Indies, Straits Settlements and Philippines 91,000 ------

Return Trips Pay Off

essential commodities into the United States. The import of 20 such essential commodities amounted to 15,366,793 long tons in 1943 as compared to 12,179,545 long tons in 1942, an increase of 26.17 percent. The comparative imports of these 20 commodities are shown in the following summarized tabulation:

Ocean-borne arrivals of selected commodities 1942 and 1943
[Tons of 2,240 pounds]

Commodity 1942 1943 Percent
Total, 20 commodities 12,179,545 15,366,793 +26.17
Balsa logs and lumber 9,379 14,367 +53.18
Bananas 524,197 404,237 -22.88
Bauxite 1,999,612 3,592,616 +79.67
Burlap (bags and bagging) 156,100 264,448 +69.34
Castor beans 107,997 146,088 +35.27
Chrome ore 928,958 857,218 -7.72
Cocoa 119,782 261,612 +117.91
Coffee 787,104 969,552 +23.18
Copper 770,512 775,546 +.65
Hides and skins (except rabbit) 212,954 179,380 -15.77
Lead 267.164 129,797 -51.42
Linseed (flaxseed) 238,151 91,596 -61.54
Mahogany logs and lumber 76.124 138,739 +82.25
Manganese ore 1,183,333 1,268,687 +7.21
Nitrates 810,505 696,173 -14.11
Quebracho and tanning material (excluding quebracho wood) 165,980 143.350 -13.63
Sisal and henequen 186,263 179,584 -3.59
Sugar 2,856,277 4,444,442 +55.60
Wool 556,218 369,824 -33.51
Zinc 222,875 440,137 +97.48

Imports into the United States in 1942 were 17,509,000 long tons, including the 20 commodities mentioned above. In 1943 the total imports were 19,480,000 long tons, an increase of almost 2,000,000 long tons over the previous year. More than 80 percent of the 1943 total was carried in WSA controlled ships.

Of the total dry cargo exports in 1943--the equivalent of 6,000 Liberty shiploads of 1,000,000 freight carloads of war material and other necessities--American ships carried 36,596,000

tons, of which 96 percent was carried in WSA vessels and 4 percent in Army- or Navy-owned ships. Of the 35,312,000 long tons carried by WSA ships, approximately 50 percent was military cargo allocated to the Army and Navy.

Ships of other nations carried 10,375,000 of the 46,971,000 long tons of dry cargo exported from the United States during 1943. The greatest part of the cargo carried under foreign flag was transported by ships of the United Kingdom and Russia, which handled about 9 million tons, the remaining 1 million being divided among the ships of other United and neutral nations.

WSA Delivers the Goods

The great bulk of lend-lease shipments was carried in WSA-controlled merchant ships in 1943. In that year those ships made 2,876 sailings with lend-lease supplies. Of that total 2,267 sailings were for Great Britain, her colonies, and dominions, 328 for Russia, and 281 for other lend-lease countries.

In 1942 an average of 12 percent of ships carrying lend-lease supplies to Russia were being sunk. It was a serious but not crippling blow to the United Nations' cause. At the end of 1943 barely 1 percent of the lend-lease carrying vessels were being lost.

This improvement in shipping conditions to the Soviet Union and better protection of the convoys were vital contributing factors to Russia's ability to seize and maintain the military initiative against the Nazis.

Ships--More Ships

shipways, the tide of war undoubtedly could not have been swung against the enemy in all theaters, an achievement that has been made possible through delivery on time and in sufficient quantities of men, essential material, and supplies for war, including planes, tanks, guns, ammunition, and oil.

As a further result of America's shipbuilding program, the War Shipping Administration now operates the largest fleet of merchant vessels in world history. At the end of 1943 that fleet consisted of about 2,300 dry cargo ships aggregating nearly 22,000,000 deadweight tons, and 580 tankers of 6,627,700 deadweight tons, a total fleet of almost 3,000 ships which is continuing to expand rapidly. BY mid-1944, WSA controlled some 3,400 vessels totaling well over 35 million deadweight tons.

The increase in merchant ship tonnage produced in American shipyards and placed in United Nations war service by the end of 1943 more than offset all losses sustained by all the United Nations since the beginning of the European war in September, 1939. The bulk of this increase, of course, operated under the American flag.

The WSA-controlled dry cargo fleet in early 1944 was made up of ships acquired as follows: 70 percent from new construction, 23 percent from existing vessels owned by American shipping companies, and 7 percent from foreign nations. This fleet represented 73 percent of the vessels built for or acquired by the War Shipping Administration since December 1, 1941. Disposition of the other ships, representing 27 percent of those acquired or built, was as follows: 9 percent transferred to lend-lease nations under charter with title remaining in the United States, 7 percent transferred to the Army and the Navy to serve as combat loaders, troops ships, hospital ships, and other auxiliaries, and some 11 percent sunk.

In addition to the WSA-controlled merchant fleet, more than 500 dry cargo ships and tankers had been transferred by WSA either by title or under charter to the Army and the Navy by December 31, 1943. These ships were acquired

New Fronts--More Ships

Although the fleet of merchant ships under WSA control and the auxiliary fleets of the Army and the Navy were constantly increasing, rapid expansion of the Nation's fighting forces and the constant broadening of combat areas required most careful allocation of ships to various uses. The picture was changing daily.

The invasion of North Africa, for instance, required diversion of an enormous fleet of merchant ships from other employment to carrying men and supplies from the United Kingdom and the United States to the North African combat area for a considerable period of time. This invasion withdrew from other service enough United States merchant vessels to curtail severely shipment of any other type of cargo, particularly that for civilian use.

On the other hand, the rapid overthrow of the Axis armies in North Africa--considerably ahead of the original schedule--made large numbers of ships again available for other uses. Only through flexibility in the WSA system of handling these vessels was loss of precious ship time averted.

The Big Shippers

cargo, a decrease of 3 points 29 percent was carrying lend-lease cargo, a decrease of 1 point, and the remaining 12 percent of WSA merchant ships were transporting essential raw material and civilian commodities for this country, a decrease of 4 points. These decreases of increases, however, were not indicative of the volume carried for each purpose because of the growth of the WSA-controlled merchant fleet. As a matter of fact, the 12 percent of the fleet devoted to essential raw materials and civilian necessities for use in the United States carried a greater volume of cargo than 16 percent of the fleet had transported a year previously.

Increase in the volume of cargo carried resulted not only from the growth of the merchant fleet but from better utilization of ships as well. Improved methods in loading were devised, and the capacity of tankers was increased by development and perfection during 1943 of a new type of skeleton or spar deck.

Ingenuity Pays

To utilize full capacity, arrangements were made to load deck cargo and fill in unused underdeck space on vessels passing through New York for convoy assembly. DUring 1943 such additional cargo, amounting to 14,000,000 cubic feet, was loaded on vessels at New York in transit to the United Kingdom from other ports. In the port of New York alone, these improved methods and new devices resulted in transport of additional cargo equivalent to the capacity of approximately 125 Liberty ships.

Utilization of full capacity of the bunker oil tanks in merchant ships also increased petroleum cargoes handled. Each ship carried oil in excess of its voyage requirements which it discharged on reaching a foreign port. By this means, an additional 3,600,000 barrels of petroleum products were provided the United Kingdom in 1943. This was equivalent to the capacity of 35 average tankers. Adoption of this plan did nuch to build up the stocks of highly essential gasoline and other petroleum derivatives in Great

Britain for emergency distribution to the EUropean and African fighting fronts. The same methods utilized on the West Coast also made available to the United Nations fighting forces in the various Pacific areas a considerable increase of vitally needed munitions and supplies.

So efficiently have these ships space-saving methods been developed that in one month alone early in 1944, the savings, which is really free transportation on tankers and in-transit vessels, equalled the capacity of approximately 55 ships. During that month, 14,325,000 cubic feet of additional dry cargo, including various types of aircraft, was carried on decks of tankers from New York and about 4,900,000 cubic feet from West Coast ports. Added cargo to in-transit ships at New York awaiting convoy amounted to about 670,000 cubic feet, while dry cargo ships discharged more than 65,000 tons of surplus bunker fuel oil in the United Kingdom with no loss of cubic space in any of the vessels. Efficient use of loading ideas and a speed-up of turn-around time in port added the equivalent of 125 ships to the East Coast fleet during each of the 3 months preceding the invasion of France.

Although measures adopted by the WSA have enabled it to meet all of the high priority demands for shipping throughout 1943 and the greater part of them in 1942, there has been no surplus of ships at any time, nor is there any prospect of a surplus in the near future. The greatest shortage exited at the outset of United States participation in the war, a dearth of tonnage that was aggravated by the intensified campaign conducted by the Axis submarines in the Atlantic.

We Still Need Ships

fleet. By early 1944, some 5 million tons of merchant ships were in shuttle service in the various war theaters.

Despite the constant growth of the WSA merchant fleet throughout 1943, the anticipated demands in 1944 for military movement, coupled with the likelihood that programs for relief and supplying of conquered territories will require a considerable amount of ship space, indicate that an added strain will be placed on the Nation's shipping facilities. Regardless of this, it is expected that the War Shipping Administration can continue to meet successfully the top priority shipping requirements, although the tonnage situation will remain tight for many months.

Shipbuilders Meet Demands

The greatest contribution of relief for the shipping shortage has been made by American shipbuilders, and acquisition of additional tonnage for the WSA fleet at virtually the same level as in 1943 seems to be assured throughout 1944. Not only have American shipyards met the challenge of the Axis powers on the oceans, particularly on the Atlantic, by increasing production on an unprecedented scale but the toll of sinkings since Pearl Harbor has steadily decreased.

In the first half of 9142, approximately one-third more tonnage for the United States merchant fleet was built than was sunk. In the last half of 1942, more than three times as much tonnage was built than was lost through sinkings. In the first half of 1943, more than five times as much tonnage was constructed as was sunk, and in the last half of that year buildings outsripped sinkings on about a 10 to 1 ratio. This applies to dry-cargo vessels. The ratio on tankers was not as great but construction showed a continuous increase over sinkings.

At the end of 1943, sinkings of merchant ships, both United States and United Nations, had reached the lowest level since war began and destruction of Axis submarines had reached the peak level since the United States had entered the war.

Although increased activity on the part of Axis submarines early in 1944 indicated a final frenzied attempt on the part of the enemy to shut off as much as possible of the flow of supplies to the European war theater, WSA has outlined a program to utilize to the fullest extent a merchant fleet rapidly approaching 4,000 vessels.

The bulk of the export cargoes from the United States, of course, cross the Atlantic destined for Europe and North Africa. American flag ships, however, carried relatively large quantities of cargo throughout the Pacific, particularly to Australia and the Hawaiian Islands. The relative volume of flow on the sea routes that reach to every quarter of the globe is shown on the War Shipping Administration map accompanying this report. The width of the flow lines on the map indicates the relative tonnage of the outbound traffic in the various services but the lines do not represent actual routes.

New Routes--New Ports

The outstanding difference between the routes traversed in 1942 and in 1943 is that in the latter year the Mediterranean route was reopened, shortening the trip to India and Southern European bases of supplies by about 50 percent. Reopening of this route to United Nations ships was the equivalent of adding more than 200 vessels totaling more than 2,00,000 deadweight tons to the merchant fleets in the service of the United States and the Allies.

Reopening of the Mediterranean route, for instance, meant that ships homeward bound from Australia have delivered Australian wheat and Indian and South African coal to Italy, then have returned to the United States across the Atlantic with whatever cargo may be available, such as metal scrap from the battlefields, or in ballast. This has resulted in a great saving of ship time.

This maximum utilization of tonnage is the result of a constant and careful study of the over-all shipping situation by the expert organizations set up by WSA and the

establishment of shipping offices with competent staffs of experienced shipping men in the following ports:

Portland, Maine -- Boston -- New York -- Philadelphia -- Baltimore -- Norfolk -- Charleston -- Savannah -- Jacksonville -- Fort Lauderdale -- Tampa -- Mobile -- Galveston -- New Orleans -- St. Johns -- Halifax -- Reykjavik -- London -- Hull -- Liverpool -- Southampton -- Cardiff -- Glasgow -- Gibraltar -- Casablanca -- Oran -- Bone -- Bizerte -- Algiers -- Palermo -- Bari -- Naples -- Accra -- Takoradi -- Dakar -- Capetown -- Durban -- Laurenco Marques -- Mombasa -- Bombay -- Calcutta -- Karachi -- New Delhi -- Colombo -- Basra -- Khorramshahr -- Sydney -- Brisbane -- Freemantle -- Hobart -- Auckland -- Wellington -- Noumea -- Buenos Aires -- Montevideo -- Rio de Janeiro -- Havanna-Cristobal -- San Juan -- Honolulu.

As the armed might of the United Nations roll back the enemy, forward area stations will be established by WSA to meet their needs.

Know-How Adds Speed

These representatives and expediters maintain constant contact not only with the WSA in Washington but with the Army and the Navy and other governmental agencies and their representatives in the various areas. Due to the frequent necessity of re-routing ships on short notice to meet emergency military or other war needs, this world-wide WSA organization must be constantly alert and always in touch with United Nations merchant ships in every area.

For the most part, the men engaged this work in the principal ports around the world are highly skilled in ship operations. They have been drawn from the shipping companies and placed in the ports with the objective of assuring the quick turn-around of WSA ships through speedy discharge and loading of military, lend-lease, and other cargo. These men have general supervision over cargo handling, bunkering, repairs, and other operating matters. They supply information which could not otherwise be obtained,

enabling WSA to eliminate delays arising from congested conditions and to program requirements of the various areas adequately.

In handling ships, the WSA is dealing with a movable inventory of constantly changing positions all over the world. Under peacetime conditions, there is ready communication between ports and between ship and shore. in normal times ships sail and arrive on regular schedule. For the most part they use major ports, usually well provided with trained stevedores, good repair facilities, and adequate wharfage.

In time of war, however, communications between ship and shore and between ports are decidedly limited, particularly in the active war zones where radio silence often is imperative. Communications channels often are congested. Convoys make orderly scheduling of ships impossible. Facilities of even the bets ports are seriously taxed by convoy arrivals. Second-and third-rate ports and, in emergencies, harbors with no facilities at all must be used to supply complete military units in war theaters. And the handling of military cargo with items of great weight, such as tanks, or bulk, such as airplanes, creates difficult and often unprecedented problems in loading and unloading ships, particularly in ports which lack adequate cargo handling facilities.

Bringing Home the Bacon

Essential Come First

Due to the fact that most ships out-bound are routed in accordance with military necessity, the vessels travel to areas where there is not sufficient essential cargo to load the ships "full an down" for the return voyage. To load these ships with nonessential cargo causes double delay, first in loading and second in unloading the nonessential cargo at the home port. Rather than waste ships and ship time in this manner, WSA policy has been to bring the ships back in ballast to a point on their homeward route where essential cargo is available. This system eliminates need of sending additional tonnage to that port to pick up the essential material, saving hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping space.

In event no such essential cargo is available in ports on the ship's homeward route or at points were a reasonable detour can be made, the vessels are moved in ballast to the home ports. This results in starting the vessels out again from United States harbors with ammunition, tanks, planes, and other vital battlefront materials as much as 3 or 4 weeks sooner than if they had been held for in-bound cargo or diverted too far from the most direct return route.

The WSA organization gathers accurate and up-to-the-minute information concerning ship positions, port operations, origin of essential imports, and many other factors than entered into an orderly direction of ship movements.

The information assembled and disseminated to the proper control officials makes it possible to calculate the number and names of ships available for assignment to Army and Navy use and for other purposes including civilian service. From

New WSA World Map Records Gains
Width of flow lines on this map indicates relative density of outbound traffic in the various services, but the lines do no represent actual ship routes.

Outstanding difference from last year's shipping map is reopening of the Mediterranean route and acquisition of French and Belgian ports.

An interesting example of the use of this route is that ships home-bound from Australia deliver Australian wheat and Indian and South African coal to Italy, then return across the Atlantic in ballast. This saves weeks of ship time.

this information it is possible to determine how many vessels should be dispatched to various areas in a given period.

Foreign port representatives cable information as to the number of ships in each foreign port, indicating any that may be idle, those that are loading or unloading and what vessels are being repaired or awaiting convoy. This cabled information, together with that received from the Navy, the War Department, the State Department, and other sources is consolidated into reports distributed daily to control officials. Gathering and analysis of this ship movement information and its utilization have made possible orderly and intelligent employment of available ship tonnage.

Teamwork Moves Supplies

Correlated with the activities of those division of the WSA organization which direct the movements of vessels on the seas are the activities of other divisions which supervise and regulate the forwarding of export materials from their point of origin to the Nation's ports. By close cooperation with the Army, the Navy, and other agencies of Government,as well as with representatives of foreign countries, a control over the movement of all types of cargo from points inland to the ports has been established. This prevents congestion of port facilities, delays in unloading of railroad cars and expedites ship loadings. There have been no serious port congestions in the outward movement of cargo for many months. There has been but one serious case during the war and that was of short duration.

Utilization of port facilities as near as possible to the origin of the cargo is another policy of the WSA. In recent months this has been emphasized and at the end of 1943 further steps were being taken to utilize to the fullest degree virtually all port facilities, large or small. In addition to minimizing the chance of bottleneck in movement of cargoes, this plan also has served to spread the work so as to tap as many sources of manpower as possible. It also conserves space on badly

congested overland transportation lines, such as railroads and motor carriers.

In this way through its various divisions, WSA has been able to maintain a steady and orderly flow of out-bound cargoes from their inland points of origin to the ports of destination and utilize to the fullest possible extent the constantly increasing fleet of merchant ships.

Healing Battle Scars

The thousands of merchant ships under the American flag as well as in the service of the other United Nations have been subjected to punishment and hardships during the war years that the average vessel would not encounter in normal use in a period 5 to 10 mines as long. In 1942 and the spring of 1943, and to a less degree recently, bombs, mines, and torpedoes inflicted severe damage to many ships which "lived" to make port and return to their war job. As a result, one of the most important functions in keeping the ships sailing has been to repair and service them expeditiously.

Upon the United States has fallen the greater part of this burden, just as this Nation has had to assume the major portion of the shipbuilding task. WSA took over from the maritime Commission its Division of Maintenance and Repair, greatly expanded it and created in addition a Division of Foreign Repairs and Salvage Operations which operates throughout the world.

There was also created the Office of Coordinator for Ship Repair and Conversion with headquarters in New York City and operating jointly for Navy and WSA. The coordinator maintains an orderly flow of work to approximately 80 repair yards throughout the United States so that congestion is prevented and ship repairs are made in yards able to handle them in the shortest possible time.

In 7 months of 1942, nearly 4,000 merchant vessels were handled by the Maintenance and Repair Division, and in 1943 the total number grew to about 11,000. These totals include

ship conversions and all types of repair from minor work to major overhaulings necessitated by torpedoings, mines, and other enemy action. Of the 11,000 ships so handled in 1943, approximately 2,000 were for other nations under lend-lease account, and about 9,000 for WSA.

The Division of FOreign Repairs and Salvage which was not established until June 1943 assisted in effecting repairs in other countries to approximately 775 WSA controlled vessels. These repairs were made with parts and materials which in many cases were shipped form the United States to the foreign countries, some were sent by air saving critical shiptime. An 8,500-pound turbine rotor sent by air from New York to Panama saved 21 days for a tanker with 141,000 barrels of oil for Navy use in the Pacific campaigns. In addition, stock piles of repair materials which are needed most frequently were established at strategic points throughout the world.

Salvage operations also have been carried on by this division and all usable parts have been removed from ships damaged beyond repair to be utilized on other vessels. Some enemy ships, badly damaged, have been salvaged in cooperation with the Navy salvage force and in some instances sunken vessels have been raised and returned to operation.

A Fighting Merchant Fleet

All Hands on Deck

Expansion of the WSA controlled fleet into the world's greatest armada of merchant vessels brought with it the problem of obtaining trained manpower to operate the thousands of new vessels. The Maritime Commission previously had established a training division to provide both officers and unlicensed personnel for the ships constructed under the original peacetime long-range program. This training division was transferred from the Commission to the Coast Guard early in 1942 but was returned to the War Shipping Administration on July 11, 1942.

The pre-war American Merchant Marine gave employment to between 50,000 and 70,000 men. Based on the expanded wartime building program of the Maritime Commission and the program of vessel acquirement set up by WSA, it was estimated early in 1942 that approximately 150,000 more men would be needed, about 25,000 of them being licensed officers. Later those estimates were revised upward to approximately the 200,000 mark to care for the expanding merchant fleet and provide replacements for 2,000 to 2,500 men each month.

TO supplement the supply of trained men which would be made available through the training programs, an organization was set up in WSA to obtain as many experienced men as possible from among the thousands who had previously seen service on merchant vessels but had taken up jobs ashore.

Through these activities, sufficient manpower has been made available so that very few ships of the growing merchant

Sailings on Time

Ship delays have ceased for all practical purposes to disturb our overseas transport of troops, munitions, and material of war. Regardless of the continuing production of ships at a peak level established in 1943, it is expected that the Recruitment and Manning and Training groups of WSA will be capable of providing sufficient manpower throughout the remainder of the war period to prevent any increase in delayed ship sailings.

During 1943, there were 55,013 men graduated and assigned to merchant vessels under the WSA training programs. Of these 1,126 were graduates of the United States Merchant marine Cadet Corps, 614 being deck officers and 512 engineer officers, while State maritime academies provided 368, of which 217 were deck officers and 151 engineer officers. The United States Maritime Service graduated 53,519 of all ratings from officers to unlicensed seamen. In 1942 there were approximately 12,500 graduates of all ratings.

From its establishment on May 5, 1942, through December 31, 1943, the Recruitment and Manning Organization had handled 103,300 referrals of men for assignment to ships, both seagoing and in harbors, rivers, and the Great Lakes. These referrals included the majority of the men graduated from the training schools, some of whom, however, were handled directly by unions or ship operators and were not placed through the Recruitment and Manning Organization.

Up to the end of 1943, well over 100,000 men had been added to the pre-war personnel of the deep sea merchant fleet. Of

these, approximately 50,000 were derived from WSA training, about 25,000 were recruited by the Recruitment and manning Organization, another 15,000 were recruited by the maritime unions and the ship operators, and about 10,000 Great Lakes and inland waterways sailors had been moved by the Recruitment and Manning Organization to deep-sea vessels. At the close of 1943 there were approximately 135,000 men employed on the oceangoing merchant vessels controlled by WSA and as civilian crews on Army transports. To July 1, 1944, there has been an increase of 15,000 to 20,000.

During the time that this active training and recruitment program has been constantly adding men to the oceangoing Merchant Marine Service, losses have been suffered which are estimated to have taken from 30,000 to 35,000 men off the ships. Of that number approximately 5,600 are dead, missing, or prisoners of war due to enemy action at sea, another 5,000 are believed to have suffered disabilities which have taken them out of service at least temporarily, and between 20,000 and 25,000 have left the merchant ships to take jobs on shore or for other reasons.

Beyond the Call of Duty

Men in the United States Merchant Marine have proven their courage, ability, and devotion to duty Under the most trying conditions.

Cadet-Midshipman Edwin J. O'Hara was serving aboard a merchant ship attacked by two enemy surface raiders. With boilers blown up, engines destroyed, his ship ablaze from stem to stern and gun crew injured or mortally wounded by shell fire, O'Hara, single-handed, served and fired the ship's gun with five remaining shells scoring direct hits near the waterline of one of the raiders. he went down with several of his gallant shipmates.

A young quartermaster, Edwin F. Cheney, released and launched, single-handed, a life raft from a sinking tanker.

He maneuvered the craft throughout the blazing, oil-covered sea to open water by swimming underwater. Though severely burned, he guided four shipmates to safety and rescued two others who were injured and helpless.

Oscar Chappell, an able seaman, was on a ship that was torpedoed three times in less than a minute. Chappell, injured by the explosions and with head and shoulders covered with blood, stayed at his post at the helm. He saw seven shipmates on the forecastle, heads trapped by flames soaring toward them and escape shut off. He turned the vessel about, drawing the flames upon himself, but gave his shipmates a chance to jump clear of the blazing sea of oil.

More than 100 men, including these 3, have been awarded the United States Merchant Marine Distinguished Service medal for deeds of magnificent courage, self-sacrifice, and outstanding seamanship above and beyond the call of duty, an inspiration to the men who follow the sea.

Calling All Men

The WSA has maintained strategic pools of marine labor at key ports on the East Coast, the Gulf, the West Coast, the Great Lakes, and on the Mississippi River system. In addition, replacement manning pools are maintained at many foreign port throughout the world, such as in the United Kingdom, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and the southwest Pacific. These men are assigned as crew replacements on WSA controlled ships which run short of personnel during an overseas voyage.

In cooperation with the Allied Government, WSA has sought to return to service seamen who had deserted their foreign flag ships in United States ports. In April 1942 there were in the United States approximately 6,000 seamen who had left their ships under various Allied flags since the beginning of the war. The great majority of these have been returned to service and at the end of 1943 only a mere fraction of the former volume of desertions were being reported.

We Care for Our Own

In conjunction with the United Seamen's Service, a non-profit, service organization supported by public subscriptions, the WSA aided in establishing rest centers for merchant seamen and in conducting health, welfare, and personnel service programs. At the end of 1943, five rest centers had been established, being located at Oyster Bay, N.Y. Gladstone, N.J. Bay Ridge, Md. Pass Christian, Miss. and Millbrae, Calif. All of these were operating at close to capacity. The United Seamen's Service also was operating 63 hotels, clubs, and recreational units in the United States and foreign ports. More than 25,000 guest-nights of accommodation had been provided to merchant seamen.

To safeguard the health of all maritime personnel engaged in the war effort, WSA established the office of Medical Director, which is operated in cooperation with the United States Public Health Service. This medical organization supervises and controls all the services, both on land and on ships, which are directed toward maintaining the highest possible health standards for the men of the Merchant marine. As a result, adequate and extensive medical supplies are carried on all WSA controlled ships. A minimum list of such required supplies has been set up for the guidance of the ship operators, and officers on the ships have been given special training in the care of wounded, sick, and disabled men and the use of various medical supplies provided. On some ships physicians or pharmacist's mates are included in the crew. By the end of 1944, all ships will have pharmacist's mates. This health program has resulted in the maintenance of the highest physical condition of Merchant Marine personnel

Holding the Line

The WSA, in requisitioining ships, established a basic value for the tonnage taken for title and basic charter rates for the vessels requisitioned for use.

Experience in the last WOrld War proved that a proper control of ship values was necessary to prevent an inflationary spiral and its resultant effect upon the Nation's entire economy, particularly as reflected in prices of commodities imported from other countries.

Ship prices rose in 1940 and 1941 due to heavy losses sustained by the Allied Nations and a shortage of merchant tonnage available for constantly increasing cargo movements.

With the requisitioning of ships, the profit incentive was minimized as a consideration in determining the utilization of ships as the operators were paid fixed fees as operating agents for the Government, in addition to the prescribed charter rates for their vessels. The WSA assumed all operating responsibility and insurance liability for war-risk losses.

Basic time charter rates set by WSA were $4 per deadweight ton on 20-year-old vessels of 8 to 10 1 /2 knot compared with $5.75 in the last war and a world market rate of $10.20 in 1941.

The WSA valuation for ships was set at $65 per deadweight ton for 20-year-old 8 1 /2 -knot vessels as compared to the 1917 Shipping Board value of $160 per deadweight ton and the 1941 world market rates which reached a high point of $139 per deadweight ton. These rates and values were continued in effect through December 1, 1943.

Determination of these rates and values was reached by WSA after a long negotiation with ship owners and was based on a price formula computed on ship values not enhanced by war demand. Although ship owners declared that the

rates were not entirely satisfactory to them, the determinations by WSA were accepted by the great majority as being necessary to halt the inflationary trend already manifest as a result of the war.

The Comptroller General of the United States in a report to the Congress held that the rates were too high, thus placing the WSA in the middle position between the Comptroller General and those ship operators who felt the rates were too low.

The Scales of Just Compensation

To reach a determination of just compensation, the President of the United States on October 15, 1943, appointed an Advisory Board on Just Compensation made up of three Federal circuit court judges. On December 7, 1943, this Board reported and established standards in general consistent with the rates and values originally set by the War Shipping Administration. The report further gave basis for certain reductions in light of changed conditions and the increasing age of vessels, and steps were taken early in 1944 which resulted in a reduction of the former basic value of $65 per deadweight ton to $56.25. At the same time the WSA established basic bareboat charter rates at $1.25 per deadweight ton as compared with $4.15 in the last war and $6.00 allowed by the courts following the last war. This latter action, it is estimated, will save the Government approximately $50,000,000 additional in charter hire, insurance, and other costs arising out of the requisition program. While a portion of this saving will be passed on to the public in reduced freight rates, the greater portion will accrue to the Government as charterer and the largest shipper of cargo.

One other effect of this fixing of charter rates was to prevent a runaway abnormal rise in ship prices by fixing a ceiling on ship earnings. It also prevents undue speculative activity in the ship market which can result only in serious dislocation and uncertainty for ship operators.

WSA Covers War Risks

Soon after the creation of the War Shipping Administration and determination had been reached to requisition all vessels, the functions of the Wartime Insurance Committee of the Maritime Commission were transferred to WSA. Under terms of the Merchant Marine Act, a revolving fund had been set up for the purpose of permitting the Government to enter the insurance field at such time as an emergency might increase commercial insurance rates prohibitively. This condition arose when heavy losses at sea were being suffered as a result of the war.

In addition to insurance on ships and cargoes, WSA provided for Government paid war risk insurance on seamen in the amount of $5,000 and also for payment to seamen for loss of personal effects.

WSA expanded its wartime insurance operations to the degree necessary to provide proper protection to the Government as well as the ship owners. In 1942 it operated with a deficit of more than $12,000,000 but by the end of 1943 the operations showed a credit which amounted to nearly $35,000,000 in receipts over the paid and accrued liabilities for a 2 1 /2 -year period, part of which extended back into Maritime Commission jurisdiction.

Within the Law

Enough to Do the Job

How WSA Works

affects WSA operations to the extent that close integration of the building program with operations is necessary.

Under the Deputy Administrator for vessel utilization, planning and policy are 7 Assistant Deputy Administrators who in turn have immediate supervision over 27 divisions covering all phases of ship operations and their myriad ramifications, procurement, and operation of small vessels, maintenance, salvage, and repair of ships, ship control, tanker operations, fiscal affairs and the Pacific area.

Under the Deputy Administrator for Labor Relations, Manning, Training, and Recruitment are the Medical Director, and three Assistant Deputy Administrators, one for training, another for recruitment and manning, and the third for maritime labor relations. Under the immediate supervision of these three officials are 10 subdivisions.

Paying the Freight

Total obligations and disbursements by WSA--actual and estimated--since its inception on February 7, 1942, to the end of the 1944 fiscal year--June 30, 1944--are $5,107,729.916. Of this amount, purchase, charter, and operations of vessels, reconditioning, outfitting, defense installations, operation of warehouses and terminals and other expenditures from the revolving fund are $2,683,048,532. Expenditures for these purposes in 1942--from February 7 to June 30--were $183,527,851 in 1943, $1,242,554,696 and in 1944, including estimates to June 30, $1,256,965,985.

Obligations and expenditures from the maritime training fund for the entire period were $168,758,241 of which $39,285,226 was expended in 1942, $60,273,015 in 1943, and in the year ending June 30, 1944, actual and estimated, $69,200,000.

Total obligations in support of State maritime schools amounted to $875,072, of which $180,814 was expended in 1942, $344, 258 in 1943, and expended and obligated up to June 30, 1944, $350,000.

The marine and war risk insurance fund for the entire

period shows an excess of $56,644,098 in receipts over disbursements.

Funds expended or obligated for lend-lease purposes in 1942, were $367,264,498 in 1943 they were $667,894,513 and in 1944, including actual and estimated, $1,276,533,158, making a total lend-lease activity by WSA show obligations of $2,311,692,169.

Source of these funds were from authorized appropriations, transfers, or allocations.

In making budgetary setup for appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1945, WSA shows a balance in the revolving fund of $821,000,000 to be carried over. This amount is available because of a reduction in the original estimates of expenditures form July 1, 1943, to June 30, 1944, $640,000,000 of which is due to reduction in vessel operating expense and the decrease of submarine and other enemy action on the seas, with the resultant drop in the volume of repairs.

Because of the rapid acceleration of the Maritime Commission's shipbuilding program and the resultant increase in the number of ships acquired from that source, the original estimate of $185,000,000 for purchase of vessels in the fiscal year starting July 1, 1943, was reduced to $56,200,000.

Unfinished Business

As this is written, rumors and "armchair" predictions of the impending collapse of our European enemy has caused many to question the continuation of our ship construction and operations program. People forget that the Merchant Marine's job will not stop with the declaration of peace in Europe.

Six million of America's fighting sons are overseas, and they are likely to remain to complete the task of creating a lasting peace after the day of victory. They must be supplied and they must return home. The Merchant Marine will continue to deliver the goods.

Even with the internal downfall of the German nation and the occupation of the European Axis countries, there will

remain the task of winning the unconditional surrender of Japan.

Few recognize the fact that a considerable portion of our merchant fleet will be needed to rehabilitate the continent of Europe. Nor do they stop to realize that the distance from United States ports to the coast of China, to the Philippines, and to Japan is between two and three times that from our Atlantic Coast to the European war theater. It will take two or three times the merchant tonnage to bring a weight of arms equal to those now blasting the Germans, to bear on the Japanese scattered on hundreds of islands and the mainland of Asia.

The task of the Merchant Marine, the War Shipping Administration, and the Maritime Commission is not completed and we cannot rest on our oars until the job is done. The task of rehabilitating the Far East will not be an easy one. What destruction was not completed as the Japanese advanced will be completed as they are forced back on their heels by the might of Allied arms, delivered to our fighting men by America's merchant fleet.

Today, when the emphasis of battle and America's production might is delivering the knock-out blows in Europe, more than 5 million deadweight tons of the merchant fleet are engaged in short-run shuttle service for our armed services. What that tonnage will be when our might is turned to the west is not know. It can be assumed that greater distances of ocean, and hundreds of Pacific beachheads will require proportionally larger tonnages for this service.

Today, scores of merchant ships are carrying supplies across the narrow stretch of water from England to Normandy. Increase that distance a hundred or a thousandfold and the need for more and more ships, and more and more merchant seamen in the Pacific becomes real.

Ship construction and ship operations in mid-1944 is unfinished business with number one priority.

American Merchant Marine Museum History

Almost since the creation of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, there has been some sort of museum on campus. While wartime plans for a permanent museum were ultimately shelved in 1953, between 1946 and 1958 the old training ship Emory Rice was deemed a pier side “museum ship.” While not much is known about this facility, we do know it served as an inspiration for Midshipman Charles Renick, who would graduate in 1947. While the museum ship was scrapped in 1958 and its collections scattered around campus, the idea did not die. Renick returned as an administrator on campus in 1961, and almost immediately began advocating for a distinct museum space. The theft of the MacArthur “Surrender Sword” in 1973 from a midshipman lounge in the barracks underscored the need for a secure space to display the Academy’s treasures.

A permanent site for the Academy’s collection of art, ship models, and nautical artifacts was found in the late 1970s, after the Alumni Association donated the neighboring Barstow estate to the Academy. Renick and other alumni successfully campaigned for a Museum to be located on its ground floor, with storage in the basement, while a sort of hotel for Academy visitors occupied the second and third floors. The Museum officially opened its doors on May 20, 1979, under the care of the American Merchant Marine Museum, Inc., a non-profit entity empowered to exhibit, store, and even restore the Academy’s heritage assets, and apparently allowed to receive new items on its own authority. It also engaged in a vigorous fund-raising campaign from the Barstow building, and on occasion MARAD would provide proceeds from scrapping ships, as it did in 1992 to the amount of $334,000.

Nonetheless, the Museum did not thrive under Foundation leadership. Staff turnover was high, and overall dwindled. While a professionally trained curator did work at the Museum until 2009, the Foundation proved unable to raise sufficient funds to support itself. In 2007 the Academy’s superintendent created a NAFI to oversee the Museum, a questionable move that drew the attention of MARAD’s legal team, which observed a number of irregularities too great to be ignored. The NAFI soon folded, and the Academy appointed a maritime history professor to oversee the Museum’s day-to-day operations.

Since March 1, 2009, the Museum has been operated under federal control with federal employees augmented by volunteers and contractors. During that time, its appropriated budget has fluctuated wildly, from a high of $75,000 to its current budget of $5,000. Happily, it has received large amounts of gift money since 2009, and on several occasions it has petitioned for, and received VORF funds. MARAD’s Federal Preservation Officer has supported a number of initiatives to bring it into compliance with federal requirements, as has its staff. Resources have been found to install a new boiler, overhaul dated bathrooms, and even to provide a new roof. New exhibits find new audiences, and have even brought notice in the on-line edition of New Yorker magazine. Some 12.5 tons of detritus, including rusty metal shelves, old television sets, broken furniture, and hundreds of phone books have been removed from the Museum building. The facility is cleaner, better organized, and better visited than any time in the past, and is used almost daily for midshipmen classes. In fact, midshipmen participation has been a key element in the continued success of the Museum since 2009, and has provided much of the labor necessary to clean and organize spaces.

A quick glimpse of the timeline below will give you an idea of our unique heritage.


  1. Dareau

    I congratulate, you were visited with simply brilliant idea

  2. Ahmadou

    Bravo, your phrase simply excellent

  3. Fitzsimmons

    I consider, that you are mistaken. Write to me in PM, we will discuss.

  4. Jermane

    I can't take part in the discussion right now - I'm very busy. I will be free - I will definitely write what I think.

  5. Mumi

    Certainly. It was and with me. We can communicate on this theme.

  6. Joop

    A very useful phrase

  7. Muntasir

    the talent, you won't say anything.

Write a message