Portal:United States Merchant Marine

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The United States Merchant Marine Portal

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The United States Merchant Marine consists of the nation's fleet of non-military merchant ships and their crews. Operated by the government or by private owners, these ships transport goods and passengers both domestically and internationally. In time of war, the merchant marine is an auxiliary to the United States Navy, and can be called upon to deliver troops and supplies for the military.

As of 2006, the United States merchant fleet consisted of 465 ships above 1,000 gross tonnage crewed by some 69,000 merchant mariners. Seven hundred ships owned by American interests but registered in other countries under flags of convenience are not included in this number.

The federal government maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as Military Sealift Command and the National Defense Reserve Fleet. In 2004, the Federal government employed approximately 5% of all American water transportation workers.

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Exxon Valdez offloading its remaining crude oil to another tanker three days after the vessel grounded.
Joseph Jeffrey Hazelwood (born 1946) was the captain of the Exxon Valdez during its 1989 oil spill. He was accused of being drunk at the time of the accident, though cleared of this charge at trial. Hazelwood was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of negligent discharge of oil, fined $50,000, and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service. In 1999, the spill was listed as the 53rd largest in history.

Hazelwood was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia and raised in Huntington, New York. He was the eldest son of Joseph, a United States Marine Corps torpedo bomber pilot turned airline pilot and Margaret. As a youth he was an avid sailor and was a member of the Sea Scouts. In May 1968, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Transportation from the State University of New York Maritime College.

On June 10, 1968 he was hired as a Third Mate by Humble Oil and Refining Company, which later became Exxon Shipping Company. Hazelwood climbed the ranks of the merchant marine, obtaining a master's license at age 31. By age 32, he was the youngest captain working for Exxon when he took command of Exxon Philadelphia. In 1985, as master of the Exxon Chester, he saw the ship through a damaging storm while en route from New York to South Carolina. In 1987, he became a master of the Exxon Valdez which then earned Exxon Fleet safety awards for the years 1987 and 1988.

Exxon Valdez departed the port of Valdez, Alaska at 9:12 p.m. March 23, 1989 bound for California with 53 million gallons of crude oil. A harbor pilot guided the ship through the Valdez Narrows before departing the ship and returning control to Hazelwood, the ship's master. The ship maneuvered out of the shipping lane to avoid icebergs. Following the maneuver and sometime after 11 p.m., Hazelwood departed the wheel house and was in his stateroom at the time of the accident. He left Third Mate Gregory Cousins in charge of the wheel house and Able Seaman Robert Kagan at the helm with instructions to return to the shipping lane at a prearranged point. Exxon Valdez failed to return to the shipping lanes and struck Bligh Reef at around 12:04 a.m. March 24, 1989. The accident resulted in the discharge of around 11 million gallons of oil, 20% of the cargo, into Prince William Sound.


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The Paddle steamer Ben Campbell at its landing, circa 1855.

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Francis "Frank" Sinkwich (October 10, 1920 – October 22, 1990) won the 1942 Heisman Trophy as a player for the University of Georgia, making him the first recipient from the Southeastern Conference. Sinkwich was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, to immigrant parents who were ethnic Croatians from Russia. When he was still a child, his family relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, a steel-manufacturing center near the Pennsylvania border.

After his collegiate career, Sinkwich joined the United States Marine Corps; however, he received a medical discharge in order to play with the Detroit Lions as their number one pick in the NFL Draft in 1943. In Detroit, he earned All-Pro honors in 1943-1944, as well as being named as NFL MVP in 1944.[1]

After his two years in Detroit, Sinkwich served in both the United States Merchant Marines and the United States Army Air Forces, but a knee injury received while playing for the 2nd Air Force service team in 1945 ended his playing career.


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Motor Vessel Baffin Strait


The U.S. Fleet

Ships registered in U.S.: As of 2006, 465 ships of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over were registered under the Flag of the United States. This amounts to a total of 10,590,325 GRT, or a capacity of 13,273,133 metric tons of deadweight (DWT). Of these, 414 are owned by American interests and 51 are owned by foreign interests. Australian owners account for 2 of these ships, Canadaian 4, Danish 24, German 2, Greek 1, Malaysian 4, Dutch 4, Norwegian 2, Singaporean 2, Swedish 5, and Taiwanese 1.

Dry Cargo Ships Tanker ships
Bulk ships 67 Chemical tanker ships 20
Barge carrier 7 Specialized tanker ships 1
Cargo ship 91 Petroleum tanker ships 76
Container ships 76
Roll-on/Roll-off ships 27 Passenger ships
Refrigerated cargo ships 3 General passenger ships 19
Vehicle carrier 20 Combined passenger/cargo 58

U.S.-owned ships registered abroad (700): Antigua and Barbuda 7, Australia 3, Bahamas 121, Belize 5, Bermuda 27, Cambodia 8, Canada 2, Cayman Islands 41, Comoros 2, Cyprus 7, Greece 1, Honduras 1, Hong Kong 21, Ireland 2, Isle of Man 3, Italy 15, North Korea 3, South Korea 7, Liberia 93, Luxembourg 3, Malta 3, Marshall Islands 143, Netherlands 13, Netherlands Antilles 1, Norway 13, Panama 94, Peru 1, Philippines 8, Portugal 1, Puerto Rico 3, Qatar 1, Russia 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 21, Sierra Leone 1, Singapore 7, Spain 7, Sweden 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1, United Kingdom 6, Vanuatu 1, Wallis and Futuna 1.

Source: The 2006 CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.

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