Portal:United States Merchant Marine

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The United States Merchant Marine Portal

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 West Arrow underway in mid 1918

SS Black Osprey was a cargo ship for the American Diamond Lines and the British Cairn Line. She was formerly known as SS West Arrow when she was launched for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) during World War I. The ship was inspected by the United States Navy for possible use as USS West Arrow (ID-2585) but was neither taken into the Navy nor ever commissioned under that name.

West Arrow was built in 1918 for the USSB, as a part of the West boats, a series of steel-hulled cargo ships built on the West Coast of the United States for the World War I war effort. Information about her early career is largely absent, but by the 1920s, news reports revealed that the ship was sailing on the North Atlantic. By the mid 1920s, West Arrow was sailing for American Diamond on their cargo service to Rotterdam and Antwerp. In 1935, American Diamond changed the ship's name to Black Osprey and the ship continued in Rotterdam service.

After the outbreak of World War II, Black Osprey, still under the registry of the still-neutral United States, was detained twice by British authorities, before the U.S.-established "Neutrality Zone" ended Black Osprey's Dutch service in late 1939. Sailing under charter to the Isthmian Line in 1940, Black Osprey called at various ports in the Pacific Ocean. American Diamond sold Black Osprey to the British Ministry of War Transport in late 1940. During the ship's first transatlantic crossing under the British flag, she was sunk by German submarine U-96 on 18 February 1941, with the loss of 25 men. The 11 survivors were picked up by a Norwegian ship and landed in at Barry.

Selected picture

Merchant ship labouring in heavy seas as huge wave looms ahead. Huge waves are common near the 100-fathom curve on the Bay of Biscay. Published in Fall 1993 issue of Mariner's Weather Log.


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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