United States Merchant Marine
Overview

The United States Merchant Marine refers to the fleet of U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 civilian-owned merchant vessel
Merchant vessel
A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...

s, operated by either the government or the private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is responsible for transporting cargo and passengers during peace time. In time of war, the Merchant Marine is an auxiliary to the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.

Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

, dredges, excursion vessels, and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

, river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s, canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s, harbor
Harbor
A harbor or harbour , or haven, is a place where ships, boats, and barges can seek shelter from stormy weather, or else are stored for future use. Harbors can be natural or artificial...

s, and other waterways.

As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet numbered 465 ships and approximately 100,000 members.
Encyclopedia
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style="font-size: larger;" | United States Merchant Marine


United States Merchant Marine emblem
Ships: 465 (>1000 GRT)
Deck Officers: 29,000
Marine Engineers
Marine engineering
In maritime transportation, the engine department or engineering department is an organizational unit aboard a ship that is responsible for the operating the propulsion systems and the support systems for crew, passengers and cargo. This work is carried out by marine engineering officers who...

:
12,000
Unlicensed: 28,000
Source:

The United States Merchant Marine refers to the fleet of U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 civilian-owned merchant vessel
Merchant vessel
A merchant vessel is a ship that transports cargo or passengers. The closely related term commercial vessel is defined by the United States Coast Guard as any vessel engaged in commercial trade or that carries passengers for hire...

s, operated by either the government or the private sector
Private sector
In economics, the private sector is that part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the state...

, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is responsible for transporting cargo and passengers during peace time. In time of war, the Merchant Marine is an auxiliary to the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.

Merchant mariners move cargo and passengers between nations and within the United States, operate and maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries
Ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

, dredges, excursion vessels, and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

, river
River
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

s, canal
Canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

s, harbor
Harbor
A harbor or harbour , or haven, is a place where ships, boats, and barges can seek shelter from stormy weather, or else are stored for future use. Harbors can be natural or artificial...

s, and other waterways.

As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet numbered 465 ships and approximately 100,000 members. Seven hundred ships owned by American interests but registered, or flagged, in other countries are not included in this number.

The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command
Military Sealift Command
The Military Sealift Command is a United States Navy organization that controls most of the replenishment and military transport ships of the Navy. It first came into existence on 9 July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service became solely responsible for the Department of Defense's...

 and the National Defense Reserve Fleet
National Defense Reserve Fleet
The National Defense Reserve Fleet consists of "mothballed" ships, mostly merchant vessels, that can be activated within 20 to 120 days to provide shipping for the United States of America during national emergencies, either military or non-military, such as commercial shipping crises.The NDRF is...

. In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, various laws fundamentally changed the course of American merchant shipping. These laws put an end to common practices such as flogging and shanghaiing
Shanghaiing
Shanghaiing refers to the practice of conscripting men as sailors by coercive techniques such as trickery, intimidation, or violence. Those engaged in this form of kidnapping were known as crimps. Until 1915, unfree labor was widely used aboard American merchant ships...

, and increased shipboard safety and living standards. The United States Merchant Marine is also governed by several international conventions to promote safety and prevent pollution.

The merchant marine is a civilian auxiliary
Auxiliaries
An auxiliary force is a group affiliated with, but not part of, a military or police organization. In some cases, auxiliaries are armed forces operating in the same manner as regular soldiers...

 of the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, but not a uniformed service
Uniformed services of the United States
The United States has seven federal uniformed services that commission officers as defined by Title 10, and subsequently structured and organized by Title 10, Title 14, Title 33 and Title 42 of the United States Code.-Uniformed services:...

, except in times of war when, in accordance with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936
Merchant Marine Act of 1936
The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 is a United States federal law. Its purpose is "to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, to aid in the national defense, to repeal certain former legislation,...

, mariners are considered military personnel. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 signed a bill into law granting veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

 status to merchant mariners who served in WWII. Prior to such legislation, they did not receive veteran's benefits.

Shipboard operations

Captains
Captain (nautical)
A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

, mates, and pilots supervise ship operations on domestic waterways and the high seas. A captain is in overall command of a vessel, and supervises the work of other officers and crew. The captain orders the ship's course and speed, maneuvers to avoid hazards, and continuously monitors the ship's position. Captains oversee crew members who steer the vessel
Helmsman
A helmsman is a person who steers a ship, sailboat, submarine, or other type of maritime vessel. On small vessels, particularly privately-owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch,...

, ship location
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

, engine operations, communications with other vessels, maintenance and equipment operation. Captains and department heads ensure that proper procedures and safety practices are followed, ensure that machinery is in good working order, and oversee the loading and discharging of cargo and passengers. They also maintain logs and other records tracking the ships' movements, efforts at controlling pollution, and cargo and passengers carried.

The mates direct a ship's routine operation for the captain during work shifts, which are called watches. Mates stand watch for specified periods, usually 4 hours on and 8 hours off. When more than one mate is necessary aboard a ship, they typically are designated chief mate
Chief Mate
A Chief Mate or Chief Officer, usually also synonymous with the First Mate or First Officer , is a licensed member and head of the deck department of a merchant ship...

 or first mate, second mate
Second Mate
A second mate or second officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The second mate is the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer and in charge of maintaining...

, third mate
Third Mate
A Third Mate or Third Officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The third mate is a watchstander and customarily the ship's safety officer and fourth-in-command...

, and so forth. Mates directly supervise the ship's crew. They monitor cargo loading and unloading to ensure proper stowage, and supervise crew members engaged in maintenance and the vessel's upkeep.

Harbor pilots guide ships in and out of confined waterways, such as harbors, where a familiarity with local conditions is of prime importance. Harbor pilots are generally independent contractor
Independent contractor
An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when...

s who accompany vessels while they enter or leave port, and may pilot many ships in a single day.

Ship's engineers operate, maintain, and repair engines, boilers, generators, pumps, and other machinery. Merchant marine vessels usually have four engineering officers: a chief engineer
Chief Engineer
In marine transportation, the chief engineer is a licensed mariner in charge of the engineering department on a merchant vessel. "Chief engineer" is the official title of someone qualified to oversee the entire engine department; the qualification is colloquially called a "chief's...

 and a first
First Assistant Engineer
A first assistant engineer is a licensed member of the engineering department on a merchant vessel. This title is used for the person on a ship responsible for supervising the daily maintenance and operation of the engine department...

, second
Second Assistant Engineer
A Second Assistant Engineer or Third Engineer is a licensed member of the engineering department on a merchant vessel.The Second Assistant is usually in charge of boilers, fuel, auxiliary engines, condensate and feed systems, and is the third most senior marine engineer on board. Depending on...

, and third
Third Assistant Engineer
The Third Assistant Engineer, also known as the Fourth Engineer, is a licensed member of the engineering department on a merchant vessel....

 assistant engineer. On many ships, Assistant Engineers stand periodic watches, overseeing the safe operation of engines and other machinery. However, most modern ships sailing today utilize Unmanned Machinery Space (UMS) automation technology, and Assistant Engineers are Dayworkers. At night and during meals and breaks the engine room is unmanned and machinery alarms are answered by the Duty Engineer.

Deck officers and ship's engineers are usually trained at maritime academies. Women were barred from U.S. maritime academies until 1974, when the State University of New York Maritime College
State University of New York Maritime College
SUNY Maritime College is a maritime college located in the Bronx, New York City in historic Fort Schuyler on the Throggs Neck peninsula where the East River meets Long Island Sound...

 and the California Maritime Academy
California Maritime Academy
The California Maritime Academy is one of 23 campuses in the California State University system and is one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States...

 first admitted women cadets. It is becoming increasingly difficult for unlicensed mariners to earn a merchant marine license due to increased requirements for formal training. A mariner must have sufficient sea time in a qualified rating and complete specified testing and training, such as that required by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW
STCW
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers , 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization in...

).

Able seamen
Able Seaman (occupation)
An able seaman is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. An AB may work as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles.-Watchstander:...

 and ordinary seamen
Ordinary Seaman (occupation)
An ordinary seaman is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The position is an apprenticeship to become an able seaman, and has been for centuries...

 operate the vessel and its deck equipment under officer supervision and keep their assigned areas in good order. They watch for other vessels and obstructions in the ship's path, as well as for navigational aids such as buoy
Buoy
A buoy is a floating device that can have many different purposes. It can be anchored or allowed to drift. The word, of Old French or Middle Dutch origin, is now most commonly in UK English, although some orthoepists have traditionally prescribed the pronunciation...

s and lighthouse
Lighthouse
A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses or, in older times, from a fire, and used as an aid to navigation for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways....

s. They also steer the ship
Helmsman
A helmsman is a person who steers a ship, sailboat, submarine, or other type of maritime vessel. On small vessels, particularly privately-owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch,...

, measure water depth in shallow water
Sounding line
A sounding line or lead line is a length of thin rope with a plummet, generally of lead, at its end. Regardless of the actual composition of the plummet, it is still called a "lead."...

, and maintain and operate deck equipment such as lifeboats
Lifeboat (shipboard)
A lifeboat is a small, rigid or inflatable watercraft carried for emergency evacuation in the event of a disaster aboard ship. In the military, a lifeboat may be referred to as a whaleboat, dinghy, or gig. The ship's tenders of cruise ships often double as lifeboats. Recreational sailors sometimes...

, anchors, and cargo-handling gear. On tankers, mariners designated as pumpmen hook up hoses, operate pumps, and clean tanks. When arriving at or leaving a dock, they handle the mooring lines. Seamen also perform routine maintenance chores, such as repairing lines, chipping rust, and painting and cleaning decks. On larger vessels, a boatswain
Boatswain
A boatswain , bo's'n, bos'n, or bosun is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The boatswain supervises the other unlicensed members of the ship's deck department, and typically is not a watchstander, except on vessels with small crews...

, or head seaman will supervise the work.

Marine oilers
Oiler (occupation)
An oiler is a worker whose main job is to oil machinery. In previous eras there were oiler positions in various industries, including maritime work , railroading, steelmaking, and mining...

 and more experienced qualified members of the engine department
Qualified Member of the Engine Department
A Qualified Member of the Engineering Department also known as an Unlicensed Junior Engineer or QMED is a senior unlicensed crewmember in the engine room of a ship. The QMED performs a variety of tasks connected with the maintenance and repair of engine room, fireroom, machine shop, ice-machine...

, or QMEDs, maintain the vessel in proper running order in the engine spaces below decks, under the direction of the ship's engineering officers. These workers lubricate gears, shafts, bearings, and other moving parts of engines and motors; read pressure and temperature gauges; record data; and sometimes assist with repairs and adjust machinery. Wipers
Wiper (occupation)
A wiper is the most junior crewmember in the engine room of a ship. The role of a wiper consists of cleaning the engine spaces and machinery, and assisting the engineers as directed....

 are the entry-level workers in the engine room, holding a position similar to that of ordinary seamen of the deck crew. They clean and paint the engine room and its equipment and assist the others in maintenance and repair work. With more experience they become oilers and firemen.

As of 2011, a typical deep-sea merchant ship has a captain, three mates, a chief engineer and three assistant engineers, plus six or more unlicensed seamen, such as able seamen, oilers, QMEDs, and cooks
Chief Cook
A chief cook is a senior unlicensed crewmember working in the steward's department of a merchant ship.The chief cook directs and participates in the preparation and serving of meals; determines timing and sequence of operations required to meet serving times; inspects galley and equipment for...

 or food handlers
Steward's Assistant
A steward's assistant is an unlicensed, entry-level crewmember in the Steward's department of a merchant ship. This position can also be referred to as steward , galley utilityman, messman, supply or waiter.The role of the SA consists mainly of stocking, cleaning and assisting with the...

. Other unlicensed positions on a large ship may include electricians and machinery mechanics.

History

The history of ships and shipping in North America goes back at least as far as Leif Erikson, who established a short-lived settlement called Vinland
Vinland
Vinland was the name given to an area of North America by the Norsemen, about the year 1000 CE.There is a consensus among scholars that the Vikings reached North America approximately five centuries prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus...

 in present day Newfoundland. The shipping industry developed as colonies grew and trade with Europe increased. As early as the 16th century, Europeans were shipping horses, cattle and hogs to the Americas.

Spanish colonies began to form as early as 1565 in places like St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

, and later in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

, San Antonio, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 and San Francisco. English colonies like Jamestown
Jamestown, Virginia
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607 , it was the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke...

 began to form as early as 1607. The connection between the American colonies and Europe, with shipping as its only conduit, would continue to grow unhindered for almost two hundred years.

Revolutionary war

The first wartime role of an identifiable United States merchant marine first took place on June 12, 1775 in and around Machias, Maine. A group of citizens, hearing the news from Concord and Lexington, captured the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

 HMS Margaretta. The citizens, in need of critical supplies, were given an ultimatum: either load the ships with lumber
Lumber
Lumber or timber is wood in any of its stages from felling through readiness for use as structural material for construction, or wood pulp for paper production....

 to build British barracks in Boston, or go hungry. They chose to fight.

Word of this revolt reached Boston, where the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 and the various colonies issued Letters of Marque
Letter of marque
In the days of fighting sail, a Letter of Marque and Reprisal was a government licence authorizing a person to attack and capture enemy vessels, and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale...

 to privateers. The privateers interrupted the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 supply chain all along the eastern seaboard
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

 of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and across the Atlantic Ocean. These actions by the privateers predate both the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 and the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, which were formed in 1790 and 1775, respectively.

Nineteenth and twentieth centuries

The merchant marine was active in subsequent wars, from the Confederate commerce raiders
Commerce raiding
Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt the logistics of an enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging the combatants themselves or enforcing a blockade against them.Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by...

 of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, to the First and Second Battle of the Atlantic
Second Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, running from 1939 to the defeat of Germany in 1945. At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany's subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its...

 in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. 3.1 million tons of merchant ships were lost in World War II. Mariners died at a rate of 1 in 24, which was the highest rate of casualties of any service. All told, 733 American cargo ships were lost and 8,651 of the 215,000 who served perished on troubled waters and off enemy shores.

Merchant shipping also played its role in the wars in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and Korea
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. During the Korean war the number of ships under charter grew from 6 to 255. In September 1950, when the U.S. Marine Corps went ashore at Incheon
Incheon
The Incheon Metropolitan City is located in northwestern South Korea. The city was home to just 4,700 people when Jemulpo port was built in 1883. Today 2.76 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan Metropolitan City...

, 13 Navy cargo ships, 26 chartered American, and 34 Japanese-manned merchant ships, under the operational control of Military Sea Transportation Service participated.

During the Vietnam War, ships crewed by civilian seamen carried 95% of the supplies used by the American armed forces. Many of these ships sailed into combat zones under fire. The SS Mayaguez incident
Mayagüez incident
The Mayaguez incident between the Khmer Rouge and the United States from May 12–15, 1975, was the last official battle of the Vietnam War. The names of the Americans killed, as well as those of three Marines who were left behind on the island of Koh Tang after the battle and who were subsequently...

 involved the capture of mariners from the American merchant ship SS Mayaguez.

During the first Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, the merchant ships of the Military Sealift Command
Military Sealift Command
The Military Sealift Command is a United States Navy organization that controls most of the replenishment and military transport ships of the Navy. It first came into existence on 9 July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service became solely responsible for the Department of Defense's...

 (MSC) delivered more than 11 million metric tons of vehicles, helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s, ammunition
Ammunition
Ammunition is a generic term derived from the French language la munition which embraced all material used for war , but which in time came to refer specifically to gunpowder and artillery. The collective term for all types of ammunition is munitions...

, fuel
Fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

 and other supplies and equipment. At one point during the war, more than 230 government-owned and chartered ships were involved in the sealift.

Government-owned merchant vessels from the National Defense Reserve Fleet
National Defense Reserve Fleet
The National Defense Reserve Fleet consists of "mothballed" ships, mostly merchant vessels, that can be activated within 20 to 120 days to provide shipping for the United States of America during national emergencies, either military or non-military, such as commercial shipping crises.The NDRF is...

 (NDRF) have supported emergency shipping requirements in seven wars and crises. During the Korean War, 540 vessels were activated to support military forces. A worldwide tonnage shortfall from 1951 to 1953 required over 600 ship activations to lift coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 to Northern Europe and grain to India. From 1955 through 1964, another 600 ships were used to store grain for the Department of Agriculture. Another tonnage shortfall following the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

 closing in 1956 caused 223 cargo ship and 29 tanker activations from the NDRF. During the Berlin crisis of 1961
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

, 18 vessels were activated, remaining in service until 1970. The Vietnam War required the activation of 172 vessels.

Since 1977, the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) has taken the brunt of the work previously handled by the National Defense Reserve Fleet. The RRF made a major contribution to the success of Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm from August 1990 through June 1992, when 79 vessels helped meet military sealift requirements by carrying 25% of the unit equipment and 45% of the ammunition needed.

Two RRF tankers, two Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) ships and a troop transport ship were employed in Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 for Operation Restore Hope in 1993 and 1994. During the Haitian crisis
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 in 1994, 15 ships were activated for Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Uphold Democracy was an intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d'état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide...

 operations. In 1995 and 1996, four RO/RO ships were used to deliver military cargo as part of U.S. and U.K. support to NATO peace-keeping missions.

Four RRF ships were activated to provide humanitarian assistance for Central America following Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Mitch was the most powerful hurricane and the most destructive of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, with maximum sustained winds of 180 mph . The storm was the thirteenth tropical storm, ninth hurricane, and third major hurricane of the season. Along with Hurricane Georges, Mitch...

 in 1998.

Twenty-first century


In 2003, 40 RRF ships were used in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. This RRF contribution included sealifting equipment and supplies into the combat theater, which included combat support equipment for the Army, Navy Combat Logistics Force, and USMC Aviation Support equipment. By the beginning of May 2005, RRF cumulative support included 85 ship activations that logged almost 12,000 ship operating days, moving almost 25% of the equipment needed to support operations in Iraq.

The Military Sealift Command
Military Sealift Command
The Military Sealift Command is a United States Navy organization that controls most of the replenishment and military transport ships of the Navy. It first came into existence on 9 July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service became solely responsible for the Department of Defense's...

 was also involved in the Iraq War
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, delivering 61000000 square feet (5,667,085.4 m²) of cargo and 1100000000 gallons (4,163,953.2 m³) of fuel by the end of that year. Merchant mariners were recognized for their contributions in Iraq. For example, in late 2003, Vice Adm. David Brewer III, Military Sealift Command
Military Sealift Command
The Military Sealift Command is a United States Navy organization that controls most of the replenishment and military transport ships of the Navy. It first came into existence on 9 July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service became solely responsible for the Department of Defense's...

 commander, awarded the crew of the the Merchant Marine Expeditionary Medal.

The RRF was called upon to provide humanitarian assistance to gulf coast areas following Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 and Hurricane Rita
Hurricane Rita
Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Rita caused $11.3 billion in damage on the U.S. Gulf Coast in September 2005...

 landfalls in September 2005. The Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders...

 requested a total of eight vessels to support relief efforts. Messing and berthing was provided for refinery workers, oil spill response teams and longshoremen. One vessel provided electrical power.

As of 2007, three RRF ships supported the Afloat Prepositioning Force with two specialized tankers and one dry cargo vessel capable of underway replenishment for the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force.

The commercial fleet

As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet had 465 privately-owned ships of 1,000 or more gross register tons. Two hundred ninety-one (291) were dry cargo ships, 97 were tankers, and 77 were passenger ships. Of those American-flagged ships, 51 were foreign owned. Seven hundred American-owned ships are flagged in other nations.

2005 statistics from the United States Maritime Administration focused on the larger segment of the fleet: ships of and over. 245 privately owned American-flagged ships are of this size, and 153 of those meet the Jones Act criteria.

The World War II era was the peak for the U.S. fleet. During the post-war year of 1950, for example, U.S. carriers represented about 43 percent of the world's shipping trade. By 1995, the American market share had plunged to 4 percent, according to a 1997 report by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office
Congressional Budget Office
The Congressional Budget Office is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides economic data to Congress....

 (CBO). The report states, "the number of U.S.-flag vessels has dropped precipitously—from more than 2,000 in the 1940s and 850 in 1970 to about 320 in 1996."

A diminishing U.S. fleet contrasted with the burgeoning of international sea trade. For example, worldwide demand for natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 led to the growth of the global liquefied natural gas
Liquefied natural gas
Liquefied natural gas or LNG is natural gas that has been converted temporarily to liquid form for ease of storage or transport....

 (LNG) tanker fleet, which reached 370 vessels as of 2007. In 2007 the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) set uniform LNG training standards at U.S. maritime training facilities. While short-term imports are declining, longer term projections signal an eightfold increase in U.S. imported LNG by 2025, the worldwide LNG fleet does not include a single U.S. flagged vessel. Moreover, only five U.S. deepwater LNG ports were operational in 2007, although permits have been issued for four additional ports, according to MARAD.

The US pool of qualified mariners declined with the fleet. In 2004 MARAD described the gap between sealift crewing needs and available unlicensed personnel as "reaching critical proportions, and the long term outlook for sufficient personnel is also of serious concern."

Future seagoing jobs for U.S. mariners may not be on U.S.-flagged ships. American-trained mariners are being sought after by international companies to operate foreign-flagged vessels, according to Julie A. Nelson, deputy maritime administrator of the U.S. Department of Commerce. For example, Shell International and Shipping Company Ltd. began recruiting U.S. seafarers to crew its growing fleet of tankers in 2008. In 2007 Overseas Shipholding Group
Overseas Shipholding Group
Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. is one of the largest oil tanker operating companies in the world. It is based in New York City....

 and the Maritime Administration agreed to allow American maritime academy cadets to train aboard OSG's international flag vessels.

The federal fleet

Military Sealift Command
Military Sealift Command
The Military Sealift Command is a United States Navy organization that controls most of the replenishment and military transport ships of the Navy. It first came into existence on 9 July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service became solely responsible for the Department of Defense's...

(MSC) is an arm of the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 that serves the entire Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 as the ocean carrier of materiel
Materiel
Materiel is a term used in English to refer to the equipment and supplies in military and commercial supply chain management....

 during peacetime and war. MSC transports equipment, fuel, ammunition, and other goods essential to United States armed forces worldwide. Up to 95% of all supplies needed to sustain the U.S. military can be moved by Military Sealift Command. As of 2006 MSC operated approximately 120 ships with 100 more in reserve. More than 8,000 civil service or contract merchant mariners staff the ships.

MSC tankers and freighters have a long history of also serving as supply vessels in support of civilian research in the Arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

 and Antarctic
Antarctic
The Antarctic is the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence...

, including McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station
McMurdo Station is a U.S. Antarctic research center located on the southern tip of Ross Island, which is in the New Zealand-claimed Ross Dependency on the shore of McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. It is operated by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program, a branch of the National...

, Antarctica and Greenland
Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

.
The National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) acts as a reserve of cargo ships for national emergencies and defense. As of 2006, the NDRF fleet numbered 251 ships, down from 2,277 ships at its peak in 1950.

NDRF vessels are now staged at the James River, Beaumont
Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont is a city in and county seat of Jefferson County, Texas, United States, within the Beaumont–Port Arthur Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city's population was 118,296 at the 2010 census. With Port Arthur and Orange, it forms the Golden Triangle, a major industrial area on the...

 and Suisun Bay
Suisun Bay
Suisun Bay is a shallow tidal estuary at in northern California, USA. It lies at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, forming the entrance to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, an inverted river delta...

 fleet sites and other designated locations.

A Ready Reserve Force component of NDRF was established in 1976 to provide rapid deployment of military equipment. As of 2007, this force included 58 vessels, down from a peak of 102 in 1994.

In 2004, the federal government employed approximately 5% of all water transportation workers, most of whom worked on Military Sealift Command supply ships.

Important laws

A few laws have shaped the development of the U.S. merchant marine. Chief among them are the "Seamen's Act of 1915
Seamen's Act
The Seamen's Act, formally known as Act to Promote the Welfare of American Seamen in the Merchant Marine of the United States was designed to improve the safety and security of United States seamen....

," the "Merchant Marine Act of 1920" (commonly referred to as the "Jones Act"), and the "Merchant Marine Act of 1936
Merchant Marine Act of 1936
The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 is a United States federal law. Its purpose is "to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, to aid in the national defense, to repeal certain former legislation,...

."

The Seamen's Act of 1915

The Seaman's Act significantly improved working conditions for American seamen. The brainchild of International Seamen's Union
International Seamen's Union
The International Seamen's Union was an American maritime trade union which operated from 1892 until 1937. In its last few years, the union effectively split into the National Maritime Union and Seafarer's International Union.-The early years:...

 president Andrew Furuseth
Andrew Furuseth
Andrew Furuseth of Romedal, Norway was a merchant seaman and an American labor leader. Furuseth was active in the formation of two influential maritime unions: the Sailors' Union of the Pacific and the International Seamen's Union, and served as the executive of both for decades.Furuseth was...

, the Act was sponsored in the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 by Robert Marion La Follette
Robert M. La Follette, Sr.
Robert Marion "Fighting Bob" La Follette, Sr. , was an American Republican politician. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was the Governor of Wisconsin, and was also a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin...

 and received significant support from Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson.

Among other things, the Act:
  1. abolished the practice of imprisonment for seamen who deserted their ship
  2. reduced the penalties for disobedience
  3. regulated working hours both at sea and in port
  4. established minimum food quality standards
  5. regulated the payment of wages
  6. required specific levels of safety, particularly the provision of lifeboats
  7. required a minimum percentage of the seamen aboard a vessel to be qualified Able Seamen
    Able Seaman (occupation)
    An able seaman is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. An AB may work as a watchstander, a day worker, or a combination of these roles.-Watchstander:...

  8. required a minimum of 75% of the seamen aboard a vessel to understand the language spoken by the officers


The Act's passage was attributed to labor union lobbying
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

, increased labor tensions immediately before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and elevated public consciousness of safety at sea due to the sinking of the RMS Titanic three years prior.

The Jones Act

The "Merchant Marine Act of 1920," often called The "Jones Act," required U.S.-flagged vessels to be built in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and documented ("flagged") under the laws of the United States. It also required that all officers and 75% of the crew be U.S. citizens. Vessels satisfying these requirements comprised the "Jones Act Fleet," and only these vessels were allowed to engage in "cabotage
Cabotage
Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country by a vessel or an aircraft registered in another country. Originally starting with shipping, cabotage now also covers aviation, railways and road transport...

", or carrying passengers or cargo between two U.S. ports.

Another important aspect of the Act is that it allowed injured sailors to obtain compensation from their employers for the negligence of the owner, the captain
Captain (nautical)
A sea captain is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag...

, or fellow members of the crew.

The Merchant Marine Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 was enacted "to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, to aid in the national defense, to repeal certain former legislation, and for other purposes."

Specifically, the Act established the United States Maritime Commission
United States Maritime Commission
The United States Maritime Commission was an independent executive agency of the U.S. federal government that was created by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, passed by Congress on June 29, 1936, and replaced the U.S. Shipping Board which had existed since World War I...

 and required a United States Merchant Marine that consisted of U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed and U.S.-owned vessels capable of carrying all domestic and a substantial portion of foreign water-borne commerce which could serve as a naval auxiliary in time of war or national emergency.

The act also established federal subsidies for the construction and operation of merchant ships. Two years after the Act was passed, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, the forerunner to the United States Merchant Marine Academy
United States Merchant Marine Academy
The United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the five United States Service academies...

, was established.

International regulations

Federal law requires the merchant marine to adhere to a number of international conventions. The International Maritime Organization
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

 was either the source or a conduit for a number of these regulations.

As of 2007, the principal International Conventions were:
  • SOLAS 74
    International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
    The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is an international maritime safety treaty. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.- History :The first version of the...

    : International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.
  • MARPOL 73/78
    MARPOL 73/78
    Marpol 73/78 is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978....

    : International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships, 1973 as modified by the Protocol of 1978.
  • ICLL 66: International Convention on Load Lines, as revised in 1966
  • 72 COLREGS: International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
  • STCW 95
    STCW
    The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers , 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships. STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization in...

    : International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
  • SAR 79: International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue.

Noted U.S. Merchant Mariners

Merchant seamen went on to make their mark on the world. The first was mariner John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones was a Scottish sailor and the United States' first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America's political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to...

, who went on to become the "Father of the American Navy".

Douglass North
Douglass North
Douglass Cecil North is an American economist known for his work in economic history. He is the co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences...

 went from seaman to navigator to winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics.

After completing service in the Merchant Marines, multiple merchant seamen earned the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

. George H. O'Brien, Jr.
George H. O'Brien, Jr.
George Herman O'Brien, Jr. was a United States Marine Corps officer who received the Medal of Honor, the United States's highest military decoration, for his actions during the Korean War.-Biography:...

 earned the award in the Korean War. Lawrence Joel
Lawrence Joel
Lawrence Joel was a United States Army Sergeant First Class who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars...

 earned the honor in the Vietnam war. Granville Conway, public servant, Presidential Medal for Merit recipient

Some became notorious criminals. William Colepaugh
William Colepaugh
William Curtis Colepaugh was an American who, following his 1943 discharge from the US Naval Reserve , defected to Nazi Germany in 1944. While a crewman on a United States Merchant Marine ship that stopped off in Lisbon, Colepaugh defected at the German consulate...

 was convicted as a Nazi spy in World War II. Perry Smith's
Perry Smith (murderer)
Perry Edward Smith was one of two ex-convicts who murdered four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas, United States on November 15, 1959, a crime made famous by Truman Capote in his 1966 non-fiction novel In Cold Blood.-Family and early life:Perry Edward Smith was born in Huntington,...

 own murderous rampage (in 1959) was made famous in Truman Capote
Truman Capote
Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

's non-fiction novel In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood
In Cold Blood is a 1966 book by Truman Capote.In Cold Blood may also refer to:* In Cold Blood , a 1967 film and 1996 miniseries, both based on the book* In Cold Blood...

. George Hennard was a mass murderer who claimed twenty-four victims on a rampage at Luby's Cafeteria
Luby's massacre
The Luby's massacre was a mass murder that took place on October 16, 1991, in Killeen, Texas, United States when George Hennard ″Jo Jo" drove his pickup truck into a Luby's cafeteria and shot 23 people to death while wounding another 20, subsequently committing suicide by shooting himself...

 in Killeen, Texas
Killeen, Texas
Killeen is a city in Bell County, Texas, The United States. The population was 86,911 at the 2000 census. As of 2009, Killeen had 119,510 people. In 2010 Killeen's population shot to 127,921...

 (1991).

Mariners are well represented in the visual arts. Merchant seaman Johnny Craig was already a working comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 artist before he joined up, but Ernie Schroeder
Ernie Schroeder
Ernest C. "Ernie" Schroeder was an American comic book artist and a commercial illustrator and sculptor, best known for drawing and co-writing Hillman Periodicals' influential muck-monster the Heap from 1949 to 1953....

 would not start drawing comics until after returning home from World War II. Seaman Haskell Wexler
Haskell Wexler
Haskell Wexler, A.S.C. is an American cinematographer, film producer, and director. Wexler was judged to be one of film history's ten most influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild.-Early life and education:Wexler was born to a Jewish...

 won two Academy Awards, the latter for a biography of his shipmate Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

.

Merchant sailors have also made a splash in the world of sport. Drew Bundini Brown
Drew Bundini Brown
Drew Bundini Brown was an assistant trainer and cornerman of Muhammad Ali throughout the former heavyweight champion's career, as well as occasional film actor.-Personal life:...

 was Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist...

's assistant trainer and cornerman, and Joe Gold
Joe Gold
Joe Gold was the founder of Gold's Gym and World Gym...

 went made his fortune as the bodybuilding and fitness guru of Gold's Gym
Gold's Gym
Gold's Gym International, Inc. is an international chain of co-ed fitness centers originally started in California by Joe Gold. Each gym features a wide array of exercise equipment, group exercise classes and personal trainers to assist clients...

. In football, Dan Devine
Dan Devine
Daniel John Devine was an American football player and coach. He served as the head coach football coach at Arizona State University from 1955 to 1957, the University of Missouri from 1958 to 1970, and the University of Notre Dame from 1975 to 1980, compiling a career college football mark of...

 and Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 winner Frank Sinkwich
Frank Sinkwich
Frank Francis Sinkwich Sr. won the 1942 Heisman Trophy as a player for the University of Georgia, making him the first recipient from the Southeastern Conference. In the course of a brief but celebrated career in professional football, Sinkwich was selected for the National Football League Most...

 excelled. Seamen Jim Bagby, Jr.
Jim Bagby, Jr.
James Charles Jacob Bagby, Jr. was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox , Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates . He batted and threw right-handed...

 and Charlie Keller
Charlie Keller
Charles Ernest "Charlie" Keller was a left fielder in Major League Baseball. From 1939 through 1952, Keller played for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers...

 played in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

. In track and field, seamen Cornelius Johnson and Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe
Jacobus Franciscus "Jim" Thorpe * Gerasimo and Whiteley. pg. 28 * americaslibrary.gov, accessed April 23, 2007. was an American athlete of mixed ancestry...

 both won Olympic medals, though Thorpe did not get his until thirty years after his death.

Writers Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
Richard Henry Dana Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Massachusetts, a descendant of an eminent colonial family who gained renown as the author of the American classic, the memoir Two Years Before the Mast...

, Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison
Ralph Waldo Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953...

, Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

, and Jack Vance
Jack Vance
John Holbrook Vance is an American mystery, fantasy and science fiction author. Most of his work has been published under the name Jack Vance. Vance has published 11 mysteries as John Holbrook Vance and 3 as Ellery Queen...

 and were merchant mariners, as were prominent members of the Beat movement: Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
Irwin Allen Ginsberg was an American poet and one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation in the 1950s. He vigorously opposed militarism, materialism and sexual repression...

, Herbert Huncke
Herbert Huncke
Herbert Edwin Huncke was a writer and poet, and active participant in a number of emerging cultural, social and aesthetic movements of the 20th century in America...

, Bob Kaufman
Bob Kaufman
Bob Kaufman , born Robert Garnell Kaufman, was an American Beat poet and surrealist inspired by jazz music. In France, where his poetry had a large following, he was known as the "American Rimbaud."-Biography:...

, Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac
Jean-Louis "Jack" Lebris de Kerouac was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic...

, and Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk was an American folk singer, born in Brooklyn, New York, who settled in Greenwich Village, New York, and was eventually nicknamed the "Mayor of MacDougal Street" ....

. Peter Baynham
Peter Baynham
Peter Baynham is a screenwriter and a British comedian, writer, and performer. He often collaborates with Armando Iannucci and Chris Morris and has worked with Stewart Lee and Richard Herring. He is first heard on Morris' early radio DJ slots, often going out to places...

, the coauthor of the film Borat
Borat
Borat Sagdiyev is a satirical fictional character invented and performed by English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen...

, and Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce
Donn Pearce is an American author best known for the novel and screen play Cool Hand Luke.Born Donald Mills Pearce in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pearce left home at 15. He attempted to join the United States Merchant Marine at 16, but was turned away due to his age. He lied about his age,...

, who wrote the movie Cool Hand Luke
Cool Hand Luke
Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 American prison drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starring Paul Newman. The screenplay was adapted by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson from Pearce's 1965 novel of the same name. The film features George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D...

, were formerly merchant mariners. Filmmaker Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

 won multiple Academy Awards.

WWII-era merchant mariners played well-known television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 characters. The list includes Raymond Bailey
Raymond Bailey
Raymond Thomas Bailey was an American actor on the Broadway stage, movies, and television. He is best known for his role as wealthy banker, Milburn Drysdale, in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies....

 (who played Milburn Drysdale on The Beverly Hillbillies
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Beverly Hillbillies is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for nine seasons on CBS from 1962 to 1971, starring Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, and Max Baer, Jr....

)
, Peter Falk
Peter Falk
Peter Michael Falk was an American actor, best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo...

 (who played the title character on Columbo
Columbo
Columbo is an American crime fiction television film series, which starred Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. It was created by William Link and Richard Levinson. The show popularized the inverted detective story format...

), James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

 (who played Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files
The Rockford Files
The Rockford Files is an American television drama series which aired on the NBC network between September 13, 1974 and January 10, 1980. It has remained in regular syndication to the present day. The show stars James Garner as Los Angeles-based private investigator Jim Rockford and features Noah...

), Jack Lord
Jack Lord
John Joseph Patrick Ryan , best known by his stage name Jack Lord, was an American television, film, and Broadway actor. He was known for his starring role as Steve McGarrett in the American television program Hawaii Five-O from 1968 to 1980. Lord appeared in feature films earlier in his career,...

 (who played Steve McGarret on the original Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and Leonard Freeman. Set in Hawaii, the show originally aired for twelve seasons from 1968 to 1980, and continues in reruns. The show featured a fictional state police unit run by Detective Steve McGarrett,...

), Carroll O'Connor
Carroll O'Connor
John Carroll O'Connor best known as Carroll O'Connor, was an American actor, producer and director whose television career spanned four decades...

 (who played Archie Bunker
Carroll O'Connor
John Carroll O'Connor best known as Carroll O'Connor, was an American actor, producer and director whose television career spanned four decades...

 on All in the Family
All in the Family
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker's Place, picked up where All in the Family had ended...

), Denver Pyle
Denver Pyle
Denver Dell Pyle was an American film and television actor. He is best remembered for playing Uncle Jesse in The Dukes of Hazzard .-Early life:...

 (who played Uncle Jesse Duke on The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard is an American television series that aired on the CBS television network from 1979 to 1985.The series was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, which was also created by Gy Waldron and had many identical or similar character names and concepts.- Overview :The Dukes of Hazzard...

), and Clint Walker
Clint Walker
Norman Eugene Walker, known as Clint Walker , is an American actor best known for his cowboy role as "Cheyenne Bodie" in the TV Western series, Cheyenne.-Life and career:...

 (who played Cheyenne Bodie on Cheyenne).

Songwriter and lyricist Jack Lawrence
Jack Lawrence
Jack Lawrence was an American songwriter. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975.- Biography :...

 was a mariner during World War II, and wrote the official United States Merchant Marine song, "Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!" while a young lieutenant stationed at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, in 1943.

Writer/businessman Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Toru Kiyosaki, born April 8, 1947) is an American investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker. Kiyosaki is best known for his Rich Dad Poor Dad series of motivational books and other material published under the Rich Dad brand. He has written 15 books which have combined...

 claimed to have been a mariner.

Paul Teutul, Sr.
Paul Teutul, Sr.
Paul John Teutul is the founder of Orange County Choppers, a manufacturer of custom motorcycles and focus of the reality television series American Chopper. Teutul first appeared on the show with his sons Paul Teutul, Jr...

, the founder of Orange County Choppers
Orange County Choppers
Orange County Choppers is a custom and production motorcycle manufacturer based in Orange County, New York, that was founded by Paul Teutul, Sr., and Paul Teutul, Jr., in 1999. The company was featured on American Chopper, a reality TV show that debuted in September 2002 on the Discovery Channel,...

 and Orange County Ironworks, was a merchant mariner during the Vietnam War.

Fictional accounts

The United States merchant marine has been featured in movies and other fictional accounts.

In animations and cartoons

  • Popeye
    Popeye
    Popeye the Sailor is a cartoon fictional character created by Elzie Crisler Segar, who has appeared in comic strips and animated cartoons in the cinema as well as on television. He first appeared in the daily King Features comic strip Thimble Theatre on January 17, 1929...

     was a merchant mariner before joining first the U.S. Coast Guard, and then the U.S. Navy.

Onscreen

WWII fare
  • Action in the North Atlantic
    Action in the North Atlantic
    Action in the North Atlantic is a 1943 war film directed by Lloyd Bacon, featuring Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Massey as sailors in the U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II.-Plot:...

    is a 1943 film featuring Humphrey Bogart
    Humphrey Bogart
    Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American actor. He is widely regarded as a cultural icon.The American Film Institute ranked Bogart as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema....

    , Raymond Massey
    Raymond Massey
    Raymond Hart Massey was a Canadian/American actor.-Early life:Massey was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Anna , who was born in Illinois, and Chester Daniel Massey, the wealthy owner of the Massey-Ferguson Tractor Company. Massey's family could trace their ancestry back to the American...

    , and Alan Hale Sr as merchant mariners fighting the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II
  • Mister Roberts starring Henry Fonda
  • The Long Voyage Home
    The Long Voyage Home
    The Long Voyage Home is an American drama film and directed by John Ford. It features John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, Ian Hunter, Barry Fitzgerald, Wilfrid Lawson, John Qualen, Mildred Natwick, Ward Bond, among others....

    starring John Wayne
  • The Men Who Sailed the Liberty Ships, television documentary


Other movies prominently featuring the United States Merchant Marine
  • The Cutting Edge
    The Cutting Edge
    The Cutting Edge is a 1992 romantic comedy film directed by Paul Michael Glaser and written by Tony Gilroy. The plot is about a very rich, spoiled figure skater who is paired with a has-been ice hockey player for Olympic figure skating...

    , the main character lied to his family about joining the Merchant Marine while training to ice skate for the Olympics
  • The Last Voyage
    The Last Voyage
    The Last Voyage is a 1960 American disaster film written and directed by Andrew L. Stone. It stars Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone.The screenplay centers on the sinking of an aged ocean liner in the Pacific Ocean following an explosion in the boiler room...

  • Lifeboat
    Lifeboat (film)
    Lifeboat is an American war film directed by Alfred Hitchcock from a story written by John Steinbeck. The film stars Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn and Canada Lee, and is set entirely on a lifeboat.The film is...

  • Morituri
  • The Sea Chase
    The Sea Chase
    The Sea Chase is a 1955 World War II drama film starring John Wayne and Lana Turner. It was directed by John Farrow and written by James Warner Bellah. The plot is basically a nautical cat and mouse game, with Wayne determined to get his German freighter home during the first few months of the war,...

  • Wake of the Red Witch
    Wake of the Red Witch
    Wake of the Red Witch is a 1948 drama film from Republic Pictures starring John Wayne and Gail Russell, produced by Edmund Grainger, and based upon the novel by Garland Roark...

  • The Wreck of the Mary Deare
    The Wreck of the Mary Deare
    The Wreck of the Mary Deare is a novel written by British author Hammond Innes and later a movie starring Gary Cooper. It tells the story of the titular ship, which is found adrift at sea by John Sands. Sands boards it hoping to claim it for salvage, but finds the first officer, Gideon Patch, still...

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a short story written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in Colliers Magazine on May 27, 1922. It was subsequently anthologized in his book, Tales of the Jazz Age, which is occasionally published as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz...



On television
  • On the soap opera
    Soap opera
    A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

     Days of our Lives
    Days of our Lives
    Days of our Lives is a long running daytime soap opera broadcast on the NBC television network. It is one of the longest-running scripted television programs in the world, airing nearly every weekday in the United States since November 8, 1965. It has since been syndicated to many countries around...

    , the characters Bo Brady
    Bo Brady
    Beauregard Aurelius "Bo" Brady is a fictional character on the NBC Soap Opera, Days of our Lives, the youngest of the series' Brady family. Created under head-writer Margaret DePreist, the role was originated by actor Peter Reckell on May 2, 1983. Robert Kelker-Kelly briefly stepped into the role...

     and Steve "Patch" Johnson
    Steve Johnson (fiction)
    Steven Earl "Patch" Johnson is a fictional character on NBC's daytime drama Days of our Lives. He has been portrayed by Stephen Nichols from June 13, 1985 to October 23, 1990 and from June 9, 2006 to February 17, 2009.-Fictional character history:...

     were merchant mariners.
  • On the popular 1960's television sitcom Gilligan's Island
    Gilligan's Island
    Gilligan's Island is an American television series created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz and originally produced by United Artists Television. The situation comedy series featured Bob Denver; Alan Hale, Jr.; Jim Backus; Natalie Schafer; Tina Louise; Russell Johnson; and Dawn Wells. It aired for...

    , Captain Jonas Grumby (the "Skipper"), was variously referred to as having been formerly in the Merchant Marine and in the U.S. Navy,
  • On the popular 1960s television sitcom McHale's Navy
    McHale's Navy
    McHale's Navy is an American television sitcom series which ran for 138 half-hour episodes from October 11,1962, to August 31, 1966, on the ABC network. The series was filmed in black and white and originated in a one-hour drama called Seven Against the Sea, broadcast on April 3, 1962...

    , lead character, Lt. Cmdr. Quinton McHale, was referred to as a member of the Merchant Marine before World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

  • On the 1980's sitcom Punky Brewster
    Punky Brewster
    Punky Brewster was an American sitcom about a girl named Punky Brewster being raised by her foster parent...

    , Henry P. Warnimont (George Gaynes
    George Gaynes
    George Gaynes is a Finnish-born American actor of stage, screen and television.He may be best known as Commandant Eric Lassard in the Police Academy series, and to television fans as the curmudgeonly Henry Warnimont on the NBC series Punky Brewster, in which his wife, Allyn Ann McLerie,...

    ) - adoptive father of the title character - was a merchant mariner.

Onstage

In Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

' play The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie is a four-character memory play by Tennessee Williams. Williams worked on various drafts of the play prior to writing a version of it as a screenplay for MGM, to whom Williams was contracted...

, the character Tom Wingfield leaves his family to join the Merchant Marine.

See also

  • Awards and decorations of the United States Merchant Marine
  • The Marine Society
    The Marine Society
    The Marine Society was the world's first seafarers’ charity. In 1756, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War against France, Austria, Russia, Sweden and Saxony Britain urgently needed to recruit men for the navy...

  • National Maritime Day
    National Maritime Day
    National Maritime Day is a United States holiday created to recognize the maritime industry. It is observed on May 22, the date that the American steamship Savannah set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. The holiday was created by the United States...

  • Navy Reserve Merchant Marine Badge
    Navy Reserve Merchant Marine Badge
    Naval Reserve Merchant Marine Insignia is a breast insignia of officers in the United States Merchant Marine who also serve or have served in the United States Navy or United States Naval Reserve. The Merchant Marine Reserve had its beginnings in 1913 when it was called the Naval Auxiliary Reserve...

  • Royal Fleet Auxiliary
    Royal Fleet Auxiliary
    The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian-manned fleet owned by the British Ministry of Defence. The RFA enables ships of the United Kingdom Royal Navy to maintain operations around the world. Its primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, ammunition and supplies, normally by replenishment...

  • Ship transport
    Ship transport
    Ship transport is watercraft carrying people or goods . Sea transport has been the largest carrier of freight throughout recorded history. Although the importance of sea travel for passengers has decreased due to aviation, it is effective for short trips and pleasure cruises...

  • United States Maritime Service
    United States Maritime Service
    The United States Maritime Service, abbreviated as USMS, was established in 1938 under the provisions of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. The mission of the organization is to train people to become officers and crewmembers on merchant ships that form the United States Merchant Marine...

  • United States military chaplain symbols
    United States military chaplain symbols
    Religious symbolism in the United States military includes the use of religious symbols for military chaplain insignia, uniforms, emblems, flags, and chapels; symbolic gestures, actions, and words used in military rituals and ceremonies; and religious symbols or designations used in areas such as...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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