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.

Selected article

SS Edmund Fitzgerald (nicknamed "Mighty Fitz", "The Fitz" or "The Big Fitz") was a lake freighter that sank suddenly during a gale storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975. The ship went down without a distress signal in 530 feet (162 m) of water at 46°59.9′N 85°06.6′W / 46.9983°N 85.1100°W / 46.9983; -85.1100, in Canadian waters about 17 miles (15 nmi; 27 km) from the entrance to Whitefish Bay. All 29 members of the crew perished. Gordon Lightfoot's hit song, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", helped make the incident the most famous disaster in the history of Great Lakes shipping.

Fitzgerald left Superior, Wisconsin on the afternoon of Sunday, November 9, 1975 under Captain Ernest M. McSorley. She was en route to the steel mill on Zug Island, near Detroit, Michigan, with a full cargo of taconite. Crossing Lake Superior at about 13 knots (15 mph/24 km/h), the boat encountered a massive winter storm, reporting winds in excess of 50 knots (58 mph; 93 km/h) and waves as high as 35 feet (10 m).

The last communication from the doomed ship came at approximately 19:10 (7:10 PM), when the nearby SS Anderson notified Fitzgerald by radio about a rogue waves large enough to be caught on radar. Captain McSorley on the Fitzgerald reported, "We are holding our own." A few minutes later, she apparently sank. No distress signal was received.


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Ss-booker-t-washington-1943.jpg
Captain and crew of a new Liberty Ship SS Booker T. Washington just after it completed its maiden voyage to England. (L-R) C. Lastic, Second Mate; T. J. Young, Midshipman; E. B. Hlubik, Midshipman; C. Blackman, Radio Operator; T. A. Smith, Chief Engineer; Hugh Mulzac, Captain of the ship; Adolphus Fokes, Chief Mate; Lt. H. Kruley; E. P. Rutland, Second Engineer; and H. E. Larson, Third Engineer." Captain Hugh Mulzac is fourth from the left on the first row. February 8, 1943.

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Selected biography

O’Brien was a merchant seaman from 1944 to 1946
George H. O'Brien, Jr. (10 September 1926 – 11 March 2005) was a United States Marine Corps officer who was awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States's highest military decoration, for conspicuous gallantry as a second lieutenant for spearheading the capture of an enemy-held hill while wounded by enemy fire during the Korean War. He was decorated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during a White House ceremony on 27 October 1953, exactly one year to the day after the heroic action for which he was cited.

From December 1944 until May 1946, he was a seaman in the United States Merchant Marine. He then entered Texas Technological College where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology in May 1950.


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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, Canadian 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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