The Moore-McCormack Lines was a series of companies operating as shipping lines, operated by the Moore-McCormack Company, Incorporated, later Moore-McCormack Lines, Incorporated, and simply Mooremack, founded in 1913 in New York City. It ceased trading on its buy-out in 1982. The founders were Albert V. Moore (1880–1953) (director/president) and Emmet J. McCormack (director/treasurer), with Mr Molloy (director/secretary).
Moore-McCormack's original offices were at 29 Broadway (now still a general office building), but were moved in 1919 to 5 Broadway (now Berkshire Bank) and to 2 Broadway, two floors, when the building opened.
1913–1919 (World War 1)
Moore-McCormack Lines' first run was with Montara, intended to be a shipment of dynamite from Wilmington, Delaware, to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but, with the load not ready, the ship took coal from Norfolk, Virginia, to Aroostook County, Maine, before returning for the dynamite. The ship was the first US line ship into Brazil in 26 years, causing a sensation. It had been built in 1881 and was retired after this trip.
The company then acquired various small steamers, including a Great Lakes vessel renamed Mooremack, which were operated profitably during World War I. Additionally, chartered ships including passenger ships added to the South American runs that, by 1919, included Recife in Pernambuco, Bahia, Santos, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
After the war, the US government offered surplus ships to US shipping companies. Mooremack received several ships, which expanded its fleet and opportunities for trade, including in 1920 and 1921 to the Levant and India. Runs were established, briefly, to Ireland, but ended by 1925. Ships also went into the Mediterranean and to Black Sea ports including Russian, the first American-flag ships to Soviet Union ports.
In 1928, Vice President Robert C. Lee negotiated for Mooremack to become shipping agents for the Soviet Union using the American Scantic Line, having bought the line from the US Government. He later negotiated with the government of Poland for Mooremack to be part of the establishment of Gdynia as Poland's sea port. This also led to the establishment of trade from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Austria through Gdynia in competition with German ports, which was a factor in the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland at the outbreak of World War II.
On 8 September 1938, there was a consolidation of nine companies within the group to become Moore-McCormack Lines, Incorporated, capitalized at US$4.8m. On 4 October, Moore-McCormack contracted to operate ten cargo ships and three ocean liners belonging to the United States Maritime Commission between the USA and South America as the Good Neighbor Fleet. The passenger liners were the former Panama Pacific Line 20,000-gross register ton (GRT) turbo-electric steamships California, Virginia and Pennsylvania, which were renamed Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina to reflect their new route between New York and Buenos Aires via Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Montevideo.
World War II
From 1936, the US Government had supported the expansion of US flag shipping. Mooremack had begun a building program, but as the war began four of its C-3 class ships were requisitioned. These were "Rio" class ships of 17,600 tons displacement and designed to carry 150 passengers. Thus Rio Hudson, Rio Parana, Rio de la Plata and Rio de Janeiro became Royal Navy Avenger-class escort carriers HMS Avenger, HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Dasher. Trade increased after the outbreak of the European war and Mooremack shifted some 20 million tons of cargo destined for that theatre, including whole trains for Russia.
The USA's entry into World War II brought various opportunities for Mooremack, along with many of its ships being taken into US Navy service. The Good Neighbor liners Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina became United States Army Transportation Corps troop ships. The Type C3-class cargo ships Mormacstar, Mormacsun, Mormactide and Mormacyork became the United States Navy's Elizabeth C. Stanton-class transport ships Elizabeth C. Stanton, Florence Nightingale, Lyon and Anne Arundel. The Type C3 ships Mormacmail and Mormacland became the Long Island-class escort carriers USS Long Island and HMS Archer, and other Mooremack C3s became Navy transports.
The aftermath of the war had Mooremack owning 41 ships and, in 1946, 76 chartered ships from the US Maritime Commission. In 1949, Mooremack repaid a government loan subsidising the South American services, and repaid its mortgages, thus essentially owning its fleet.
In 1954, Mooremack withdrew the liner Uruguay from its New York – River Plate route, leaving Brazil and Argentina to continue a reduced service. Uruguay was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in the James River, Virginia. In 1958, Mooremack introduced a new SS Brasil and SS Argentina to the route, while the old Brazil and Argentina joined Uruguay in the Reserve Fleet on the James River. The new pair of liners worked the route until 1969, when declining passenger numbers made them unprofitable and Mooremack laid them up.
In 1964-1965, Mooremack placed its Constellation Class freight liners in service, the Mormacargo, Mormaclynx, Mormacvega, Mormacdraco, Mormacaltair and Mormacrigel. The fast, state of the art vessels completed Mooremack's modernization program begun in 1956. On 11 February 1966, the Mormacaltair set sail from New York for Europe, establishing the first regularly scheduled transatlantic container service. Within weeks, Mooremack was joined by United States Lines and Sea-Land Service, but Mooremack failed to exploit its first-off-the-mark lead and make the investment in fully cellular container ships necessary to realize the maximum efficiencies and cost savings that containerization promised. Left behind by U.S., British and European ship lines and container line consortia, Mooremack abandoned the North Atlantic trade in 1970 to concentrate on its cargo routes to South America and Africa, and sold four brand new combination break-bulk, container, roll-on/roll-off ships to American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines to offset losses. The idled 1958 liners Argentina and Brasil were sold to Holland America Line in 1972.
Mooremack had two of its newest freight liners, the Mormacaltair and Mormadraco of 1965, lengthened and converted into partial cellular container ships in 1975–1976. The four other "Connies" of 1964–1965 were similarly converted in 1982. Diversification into the natural resources and energy fields proved not to be as profitable as the company had hoped, and the energy crisis of the late 1970s and business recession of the early 1980s made operating costs unsustainable. Malcom McLean's United States Lines bought out Moore-McCormack in December 1982, and its remaining ships were absorbed into the US Lines fleet and later sold off or turned over to the Maritime Administration (MARAD). (Subsequently, the Mormacaltair in 1990 was converted into a crane ship, the USS Green Mountain State (T-ACS-9) for MSC, and in 1991 the Mormacdraco also into the USS Beaver State (T-ACS-10). The Mormacdraco/Beaver State then underwent a further conversion in 2009 into the USS Pacific Tracker (XTR-1) for the Missile Defense Agency. The ex-States Steamship acquired ship, Mormactide, was converted in 1988 into a Schoolship, Empire State VI (TAP 1001) for Ft Schuyler Maritime.)
Notable officials and people associated with Mooremack include:
- Albert V. Moore (1880–1953), founding director/president
- (son) William T. Moore, president and later also chairman of the board
- Emmet J. McCormack, Founding Director/Treasurer
- Rear Admiral Robert C. Lee, vice president
- SS Mormacpine Moore-McCormack, cargo ship 1947 -1970
- "The Story of Moore-McCormack", The Mooremack News, June 1951. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- "Mr Moore, Mr McCormack, and the Seven Seas", 15th Newcomen Society Lecture at the United States Coast Guard Academy, Adm Robert C. Lee, 16 October 1956. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- "Panama Pacific Lines finished". Time. 9 May 1938. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Vinson, Bill; Casey, Ginger Quering. "S.S. Uruguay". Welcome Aboard Moore-McCormack Lines. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- "The Hungnam Evacuation, 10-24 December 1950". United States Navy. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- Moore-McCormack homage site
- The Death of Albert V. Moore "The Mooremack News," Spring 1953
- Ocean Liner Museum - history of Moore-McCormack Lines (archived page)
- Timetable Images - Moore-McCormack Lines
- Timetable Images - American Scantic Lines
- Newspaper Scrapbook Archive of Moore-McCormack (1929 - 1970) at SUNY Maritime