J. W. Westcott II

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J. W. Westcott II
United States
Name: J. W. Westcott II
Namesake: company founder
Owner: J. W. Westcott Company
Route: Detroit River, Great Lakes
Ordered: 1949
Builder: Paasch Marine Service, Erie, Pennsylvania
Homeport: Detroit, Michigan
Identification: Official number: 258859
Status: in service
General characteristics
Class and type: Pilot and mail boat
Tonnage: 14 GT
Length: 45 ft (14 m)[1]
Beam: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Draft: 4 ft (1.2 m)
Speed: 15 knots

J.W. Westcott II is a boat that delivers mail to other vessels and also provides a pilot boat service to ferry pilots to and from other vessels. The boat operates out of Detroit, Michigan, and is the only floating post office in the world that delivers mail to ships as they are underway.[2]

The Westcott company was established in 1874 by Captain J. W. Westcott, who ferried supplies (and by 1895 the mail) to passing ships via rowboat.[3] By 1949 the company commissioned Paasch Marine Service of Erie, Pennsylvania to build J.W. Westcott II, named in honor of the Westcott company's founder. The ship is 45 feet (14 m) in length and has a beam of 13 feet (4.0 m). A single screw is powered by a 305 horsepower (227 kW) marine diesel engine. The boat's speed is rated at 15 knots.

Any mail addressed to members of ships' crews on vessels transiting the Detroit River can be delivered to them via J. W. Westcott II by being addressed "Vessel Name, Marine Post Office, Detroit, Michigan, 48222." The U.S. postal zip code 48222 is exclusive to the floating post office and its ship addressees. The mail will be delivered to the appropriate ships (mainly lake freighters) as they pass under the Ambassador Bridge. The postal station is located near the bridge on the U.S. side of the river.

On 23 October 2001, J. W. Westcott II sank in the deep water under the Ambassador Bridge while caught in the wake of MT Sidsel Knutsen, a much larger ship the boat was serving.[4][5] The captain and one other crew member were killed and two others were rescued. J. W. Westcott II was later salvaged, refurbished and returned to service.


  1. ^ a b "Dimensions". Westcott Co. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  2. ^ "Facts about Michigan". ThingToDo.com. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "J. W. Westcott Company". Westcott Co. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Two killed in sinking of mail boat J.W. Westcott II in Detroit River". Professional Mariner. Feb–Mar 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Investigation of J.W.Westcott II sinking, US Coastguard[dead link]

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