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 Christopher Columbus
A painting by Great Lakes marine artist Howard Sprague showing the ship in white livery, as she appeared in 1893
The S.S. Christopher Columbus was an excursion liner on the Great Lakes, in service between 1893 and 1933. She was the only whaleback ship ever built for passenger service. The ship was designed by Alexander McDougall, the developer and promoter of the whaleback design.

Columbus was built between 1892 and 1893 at Superior, Wisconsin by the American Steel Barge Company. Initially, she ferried passengers to and from the World's Columbian Exposition. Later, she provided general transportation and excursion services to various ports around the lakes.

At 362 feet (110 m), the ship was the longest whaleback ever built, and reportedly also the largest vessel on the Great Lakes when she was launched.[1] Columbus had at least three accidents. In 1895, she suffered an explosion due to a steam pipe becoming disconnected while underway. In 1905, she collided with the schooner Ralph Campbell in the Chicago River. In 1917, she collided with a water tower while being maneuvered by tugs. Her bow sheared off two legs of the Yahr-Lang Drug Company's water tower, toppling it and flooding Columbus' decks with about 25,000 US gallons (95,000 l). The collision killed 16 passengers and severely damaged her pilot house, putting her out of service for the rest of the year.

The Columbus was one of the first ships to be fitted with an on-board radio, installed by 1909, when she was allocated the call letters "KC". Columbus and the SS Chicago used radio to help coordinate the rescue of over 200 passengers from the Goodrich liner City of Racine when the Racine was disabled off Waukegan, Illinois, in Lake Michigan.

After a career lasting four decades, the Columbus was taken out of service in 1933, and changed hands twice during the Great Depression, in 1933 and again in 1934.[2] She was scrapped in 1936 at the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.[2]

SS Christopher Columbus carried 1.7–2 million passengers in her first year alone, and is estimated to have carried more passengers than any other vessel on the Great Lakes.


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Shortly after leaving the Port of Valdez, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef. The picture below was taken 3 days after the vessel grounded, just before a storm arrived.

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Selected biography

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.[3]

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.


Did you know...

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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