Camden NJ History

"...down to the sea again..."* again and again


John B. Moullette, Ed. D.
Able Seaman Quartermaster
Certificate of Identification

*With apologies to John Masefield (1878-1967)
British poet laureate (1930-1967)
"I must down to the sea again
To the lonely sea and sky, and
all I ask is a tall ship and
a star to stear (sic) her by."

down to the sea again, again and again

An Awareness and a Yearning

If, as a young boy, you had lived on the shores of the Delaware River, which flows between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, prior to World War Two you would have had an awareness of ships, boats and barges _ more so than an awareness of recreational, water borne vessels beyond the hand-rowed dinghy, the canoe, kayak, or the single masted, hollow structured sail boat powered by the wind.

Both sides of the river harbored docks, warehouses, ships and shipyards for the docking and repairing of freighters _ domestic and foreign _ that delivered and transported goods and materials domestically and internationally.

Occasionally an oil tanker could be observed going up or down the river _ to or from _ an oil terminal on Petty Island off the center of the channel above the Delaware River Bridge, now the Benjamin Franklin. Two major shipyards were situated _ one each _ on both sides: the Philadelphia Navy Yard and the New York Shipyard in Camden. Minor yards such as Cramp's were on the Pennsy side and Mathis on the Jersey side. Any beach walker on the Jersey bank could observe these ships; and, with an imaginative mind a young boy could fantasize that one day he would sail in such a ship. I did!

Quitting school during the war by "dropping-out" of Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, I worked at the Mathis Shipyard where I observed the building of ships from the keel-up to launching and once stood on the bow of a freighter _ holding fast to the flag staff _ as it was christened and slid down the railway to its natural environment for its trial run and eventual sailing to foreign lands to deliver supplies to America's fighting-men and women around the world. What an experience that was to watch a beautiful, young lady swing the christening bottle of Champagne against the hull and _ as the ship descended _ feel the river current grasp the ship and send it on its way for "fitting out." I wondered: "would I ever have the opportunity to sail in such a ship?" Yes, I would!

World War Two presented me with a dilemma: join the Marines as my father had in World War One or go to sea with the American merchant marine? I chose the former and _ as such _ I eventually sailed in troopships, landing ships (LSTs), Higgins boats, and amphibious tractors (Amtracs). A boyhood dream to be a Marine had been realized but these shipboard experiences were as a trooper headed in harm's way and not as a working seaman beyond: "sweepers, man your brooms for a clean sweep-down fore and aft."

The war ended in the Pacific and I returned from China in the standard way for that era: by troopship.

Again I was faced with another dilemma at the age of 19 "going on" 20: what does a young man with three years of Marine Corps service _ some of it in combat _ do for the immediate future?

I tried returning to high school at Temple University in Philadelphia but after a few weeks I decided that schooling at this particular time of my life was not for me. So, "dropping-out" again and walking south on Philadelphia's Broad Street, I spied a very large banner that read: "America Needs a Strong Merchant Marine." There was the answer: "go to sea" - another boyhood dream!

But, how to find a ship? Being on North Broad Street, I realized the water front was just about 14 blocks away to the east. There _ and right then _ I decided I would start my quest just north of the Delaware River Bridge. I immediately walked to the waterfront _ opposite the New Jersey shoreline _ which started south of Cramp's Shipyard. For the next three days I covered the waterfront and boarded ships either by a gangplank or by an accommodation ladder. At the top of each I would be confronted by a watch stander who wanted to know my business and I would ask: "Is there a berth for a seaman aboard this ship?" North or south of the bridge the answer was always the same: "No"! If you want a berth you must go through the Union Hall," which I learned would be one of three: the Seaman's Union of the Pacific (SUP), the Seaman's International Union (SIU), or the National Maritime Union (NMU).

What to do? Looking in a phone book I found there was an NMU Hall in the vicinity. I took off for there and when I found it, I walked into a crowded, smoke filled room of unemployed merchant sailors all waiting to be called to fill a berth, on any ship, bound anywhere , as a messman, a deck worker, or in the "black gang" _ not a racial slur. When I got to the front of the line I stated my purpose to the agent. After a few questions he told me: "There are no berths for non-ticketed persons and who do not belong to the Union." He continued: "Your chances of finding a berth and getting ticketed are slim to nil as all the men in this Hall and around the country are "veterans" of numerous ship convoys who sailed the oceans in harm's way. Good-luck, next!" So, being a Marine Corps veteran of the Pacific and China held no sway in this situation. Having lost a family friend at sea _ Harry J. Mote, Jr., second engineer aboard the S.S Meriwether Lewis, March 2,1943 in the Atlantic Ocean _ I could well understand the policy and the feelings of the men in the NMU hall at this time.

So, what to do and where to go?

Ah! The Custom House at Second and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia where I had enlisted in the Marines in the late fall of 1943 _ just after the battle for the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific!

At the Custom House and in the duty room of the Coast Guard I met a young petty officer who informed me that in order to get "ticketed" one had to get a "letter of promised employment" from a shipping company or agent. He knew of one: the Atlantic Refining Company (ARCO) at 28th and Passyunk Avenue on the Schuykill River. Off I went by trolley car - south on Broad and west on Passyunk.

In the marine employment office of the ARCO refining plant I was met by a distinguished gentleman who had, obviously, been a naval officer in the recent war. He was attired in a black and white checkered sport jacket with gray trousers and "spit shined," black shoes. He asked me my business and when I told him, he said: "we are hiring but only veterans of the recent war." And, I said; "Well, I am a veteran!" His response: "You are?" He wanted to know more and I gave him the details. His instructions were to return with papers _ an honorable discharge, a birth certificate, a social security card, and a draft card. Enlisting in the Marines at 17,1 didn't have the latter but procured one from the Draft Board in Camden which classified me as 4-C returning veteran subject to recall in the event of a national emergency. That's another story!

Within a week I returned to ARCO and presented Mr. Charles Waters with the documents and he immediately issued me a "letter of promised employment" which I presented to the petty officer at the Custom House. Without hesitation, I was issued a US Mariner Document in the form of a laminated card (Z853680) certifying me to sail as a wiper (engine room), ordinary seaman, or messman. In the winter of 1946 I sailed out of Portsmouth, Rhode Island as a wiper aboard the Steam Ship Atlantic States bound for Port Arthur, Texas and the ARCO refinery and terminal on the Sabine River.

First Ship Preparation

Prior to joining the Atlantic States I was not unfamiliar with the maritime service or seamanship. At the age of 111 attended meetings (too young to join) of the Sea Scouts _ a division of the Boy Scouts in Cramer Hill, a suburb of Camden. There I learned some basics: how to tie _ beyond a shoe string knot and a granny _ a square knot, a clove hitch and a two half hitch as well as shipboard nomenclature _ bow, stern, port (left) and starboard. In the summers I was the guest of a family friend _ Gus Mote brother of Harry _ at the Mote family seashore resort at Barnegat Beach. Here, "Uncle Gus" introduced me to the Sunfish sailboat and taught me how to set the rudder, step the mast, hoist the single sail, and sail with the wind in Barnegat Bay.

When the war came _ I was 14 (going on 15) and I joined the Camden unit of the American Coast Patrol (ACP) _ the role of which was to support the New Jersey state militia in the protection of highway bridges, electrical installations, and water towers from saboteurs who might land on the Jersey coast, which they did but not on "my watch" or on any Jersey coast. During this tour I learned basic formations, drills and military courtesy: "Yes sir," "No sir," and, "By your leave, sir" as well as basic methods of patrolling and watch standing.

At the age of 16,1 left high school and went to work _ full-time _ at the Mathys Shipyard; first as a cleaner and later as an Ozalid Operator in the drafting department. At the latter job I was responsible for reproducing white prints from drawings and for delivering same to lofts and ship board compartments. This job allowed me to wander the yard and find my way around ships by way of ladders, alley ways, decks, holds, engine rooms, cabins, lockers and lazerettes as well as to climb masts _ fore and aft _ and to observe the workers: riggers, iron workers, welders and burners, electricians, carpenters and ship fitters.

In the Marine Corps _ at the age of 17 _ I sailed across the Pacific bound for a war zone and into the Yellow Sea aboard a troopship which was a converted from a freighter to an APA-attack personnel auxiliary. On board we roomed in a hold, shacked up in a bunk, showered in a head and stood watches with the sailors (swabbies) fore and aft and along the railings. This experience brought me face to face with the elements: storms, heavy seas, cold weather, and sea sickness. With a full marching pack and rifle we Marines disembarked _ four abreast _ by way of a cargo net into landing boats for the trip ashore and into harm's way.

Pick-up Job Training

Prior to sailing as a wiper in the Atlantic States _ Captain H.M. Lauritzen, Commanding _ my experience with tools was limited: hammer, nails and saws to build bunk houses, improvised mallets to pound tent stakes, screwdrivers, wrenches, and hand pumps to repair flat tires on my bike. In the Marine Corps the only implement required was a "combination tool" seated in the buttplate behind a hinged trap door in the stock of the rifle. This tool consisted of a bullet size implement for a cleaning patch to clean the receiver and an attached screwdriver to remove the muzzle plug to get at the gas cylinder in the M-l Garand 30.06 rifle.

So, being a wiper, below decks, and in the engine room was a new experience and an introduction to new tools. Work consisted of cleaning up after the fireman, the water tender, the oiler and assisting (gofer) the pump man, the machinist, and the engineer. Beyond "soogieing," wiping-up oil and grease, chipping and painting there were "lines" to be traced: water, oil and steam "for leaks. When found, these required the removal of valves, gaskets, couplers and the replacing of same. Open end, box and monkey wrenches (sometimes with a cheater) were required. Often times a block and tackle was needed or a "come-along." This could take place anywhere: on deck, in the shaft alley, and any place 'tween deck spaces in the engine room. Work below was always hot and dirty.

My first voyage was a unique experience: I was paid $105.00 per month, stood one, single watch of eight hours per day (weekends free), ate three meals a day and a "night lunch," and was berthed in a three man forecastle (foc'sle) with an ensuite hot water sink and mirror, a single desk with chair, and a personal locker adjoining the tier bunks. What a difference from the Marine Corps and troopships where I was paid $60.00 per month, was expected to stand watches of any length _ time off was subject to demands _ and chow consisting, often, of K or C rations.

But, something was missing _ working in the open, watching the sea go by, and observing the ship's heading, as well as the variations in the weather. I began to understand me and my lack of aptitude for mechanics and a desire _ and ability _ to be a marine engineer.

My first voyage lasted 38 days and when the opportunity was presented I transferred to the deck gang as an ordinary seaman, day worker. This transfer was facilitated by the Chief Mate and bos'n (boatswain) and no doubt encouraged by the First Engineer. I remained aboard the S.S Atlantic States and signed new articles to sail as a "deck hand."

My first tour in the Atlantic States allowed me to observe the work of the deck department and deck hands _ day workers and watch slanders. Before sailing and on the advice of an old sailor I went to the Philadelphia waterfront and found a "ships' chandler" where I outfitted myself with work clothes for warm and cold weather as well as clothes for inclement weather. The latter was a three piece, water resistant, set of oil skins, which consisted of: bib type pants, a slouch hat with a wide flexible brim, and an over the hip jacket. Before leaving the ship a "salty-old Norwegian" sailor advised me to pick-up a sheathed knife with a good blade edge and a "fold in" marlinespike as well as a pocket whetstone; and, while I was at it to get a few three sided stitch needles and a palm to sew canvas. I picked up three of the latter of different sizes and strengths. Outfitted with new outerwear that included ankle high, cord shoes _ oil resistant and non-slip, I returned to the ship for the next OJT experience as an ordinary seaman.

Getting underway as a Deck Hand

The next day - February 4,1947 - the S.S. Atlantic States _ Captain Werner Appleton _ Commanding, sailed.

The Drill

Prior to sailing, the 13 members of the deck gang consisting of six (6) able-seaman, three (3) watch-standing ordinaries, and three (3) day workers (ordinaries) and one (1) bos'n assembled aft of the shelter deck and were assigned stations and duties by the bos'n _ the leader of the gang _ for getting the ship cleared of its moorings and getting underway.

The watch slanders came from the three _ around the clock _ watches: morning, forenoon, and afternoon (0400-0800, 0800-1200,1200-1600 repeated later as 1600-2000, 2000-2400, and 0100-0400).

The twelve were assigned by the bos'n as follows: one "on-duty" able-seaman to the wheel house to man the helm and one to the bow with the ordinary seaman; two (2) able - seaman and a watch ordinary to the fan-tail on the stern; and two able-seamen and an ordinary midships on the main deck. The three day workers _ all ordinaries _ were assigned as follows: one forward, one aft to the stern, and one midships along the railing.

The deck gang _ as required _ handled all lines (fore, aft and midships) to release the ship from its moorings. Those deck hands forward had the added responsibility of hauling in and setting the anchor and hosing it down as it passed thru the hawse pipe and dropped into the chain locker below deck and saw to it the anchor was seated against the ship's hull.

Once the order was given to "lower the ball and heave her (the anchor) in" the work began to get underway. The bos'n manned the steam winch to haul in the anchor and the chief mate watched the anchor's progress out of the water, up along the hull and seated with the flukes facing outward.

Bow lines would be shipped first, stern lines next to allow the ship's bow to swing away from the dock_and simultaneously _ the spring lines midship for the ship's final release from the dock. Once the ship was underway on duty watch standers moved to the bridge, off duty watch standers and day workers set about stowing lines: bow lines in a forward "hold," stern lines aft in a "lazerette," and spring lines flaked in the "shelter deck" midships.

After a short coffee break, the deck gang went to work securing the ship for sea and for crossing the sand bar into the open ocean. Entry way hatches and tank tops were closed, dogged down and made water tight. All loose gear was stowed or made fast. Heaving lines, blocks and tackle and ladders _ such as a Jacob were stored in the shelter deck with hand tools in respected places _ a place for everything and everything in its place.

A ship is not indigenous to the sea. Fresh and salt water play havoc with a ship in the forms of rust, corrosion, and rot _ rust on iron and steel, corrosion on copper and brass, and rot on wood, hemp and canvas. Once the ship is underway maintenance begins: chipping, scraping, wire brushing and painting on metal, greasing on brass plates and metal work on machinery, and marlinespike seamanship on canvas and hemp lines _ 3/16" to 4".

Preparing for Life at Sea

In post World War Two in American merchant fleets there was no formal training programs as you might have found in industry, manufacturing or construction. Any merchant sailors _ during the war _ who had wanted to "go to sea" may have gotten their training in a government operated training facility _ on the east coast _ at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY, under the guidance of the United States Maritime Commission and the United States Coast Guard. When the war ended that training ended as there was no further need for "convoy sailors."

When I sailed _ late 1946 _ the mode of training was "pick-up" _ one learns while one earns; and, therefore there were no training categories such as: apprentice, journeyman, and master journeyman that led to one becoming an artisan with the appropriate certification as an artificer. Signing on as an ordinary seaman I quickly learned that the nature of the work aboard ship required one to be enthusiastic, intuitive and eager to tackle any job assigned with the intention of mastering the tasks and jobs. Slackers were not welcomed! And, the "teachers" were "ancient mariners" who learned their skills on the old sailing ships, coal fired steamships and they "came up" through the "hawse pipe."

The major-domo on deck was the boatswain (bos'n) who assigned tasks and work and who followed-up on the assignments and the men responsible. A good bos'n (and I served under several) would take a "new hand" and show him around the ship before sailing and mate the novice with an experienced hand.

The day's work began at 0800 _ after a hearty breakfast _ for non-watch standers and concluded at 1700 hours with intermittent breaks for lunch and coffee. In my case the bos'n took me forward to the bos'n's locker, the paint locker, the tool crib, the chain locker in the fore castle and then mid-ships to the rigging room and pointed out hemp and cord, canvas, blocks and tackles, stoppers, heaving lines and associated hand tools. Along the way he pointed out the steam and electric winches and capstains.

Anything else I was to learn on the go. But, he did point out that an oil tanker had twenty seven _ nine rows of three across _ cavernous, cargo holds to contain jet fuel, aviation gas, furnace oil, petrol and crude oil. These, he noted, needed butterworthing (cleaning) periodically as did the holds for "bunker fuel" that fired-up the boilers.

The major and daily tasks of the seaman were to maintain the ship above the main deck _ fore and aft of topside housing _ and, at times, over the side of the ship as well as masts and kingposts.

Getting underway from the dock, the seamen are tasked to raise the anchor, ship the lines, and stow all running gear for a safe voyage to the next part of call.

On deck a seaman is never without a knife and stone to sharpen the knife, a marlinespike, a pocket crescent wrench, and a sheathed %" open wrench with a pointed end to tighten down nuts and bolts and to hold flanges in place. A "cheater" to apply leverage to the wrench needs to be accessible.

In inclement weather _ beyond a peripheral inspection of the ship _ all work is done in the shelter deck: oiling and greasing tools and friction equipment, repairing hemp and cord, sewing canvas, splicing, whipping, and chaffing.

Aboard ship there is always work to be done _ corrosion in the tanks can eat a ship up in 20+ years and rust and decay can inhibit the life of a ship.

Fore and aft the new ordinary seaman learns there are permanently installed bollards or bits where round turns of heavy hemp line hold the ship to the dock. Getting underway requires theses lines to be shipped and hauled in by "Norwegian steam" at first then by the steam winch or electric capstain to bring them on deck where they are flaked out and made fast prior to stowing. If the ships is anchored the anchor _ a Danforth _ is hauled in first _ upon command _ by the steam winch since the anchor will weigh at least 5 tons and each link about 150 Ibs. Most ships have 150 fathoms of chain (900') and 5-7 fathoms of chain are let out for each fathom of water 90' of water, 15 fathoms, 90' of chain. One learns fast how important the steam winch is in hauling in and stowing the anchor and therefore one becomes acquainted with the essentials _drum brake and clutch lever, and speed control. Usually, the bos'n handles the winch and occasionally will allow a seaman to "get the hang of it." Down below the chain is not allowed to pyramid so one or two seamen will be ordered below to guide the links to a horizontal lay in the anchor locker.

The deck _ at the bow _ of an oil tanker is a formidable minefield of equipment and machinery; a steam windlass, gypsy heads (winches), capstains and bits _ the latter for "tieing-up" the ship.

The major structure is the steam winch that holds the chain to the anchor. The chain is held in place by the windlass which grasps each link and holds the anchor in place for dropping or bringing in the anchor. To use the gypsy heads to bring in the forward/bow lines the windlass must be disengaged by releasing the clutch and engaging the gypsy head winches.

Usually the anchor _ if dropped _ is hauled in first with the chain going immediately into the chain locker where the "bitter end" is firmly attached to the locker deck.

Once the anchor is set and made fast and the lines are secured, watches are manned and a look outs posted on the bow and on the bridge as the ship gets underway _ usually down a river where small boats and large ships are using the waterway _ to assist in avoiding collisions.

Climbing Jacob's Ladder

On job training is the scheme for making headway as a seaman and for a career at sea. For about a year, the new seaman will work as a deck hand in order to become acquainted with life, work and duties aboard ship in any weather, at any time, and in all circumstances. As an experienced vocational educator it is easy to look back and identify the major training steps: apprentice, journeyman, and master. On deck, these would be recognized as: ordinary seaman, able seaman, and - quarter master. With the appropriate officer recommendations where after 365 days at sea the seaman can "sit" for an exam by the United States Coast Guard in any major American port and upon passing that exam can be classified as an able seaman _ 12 months. With this classification he can take on watch standing duties and continue to accept responsibilities for maintaining the ship, steering the ship, and loading and discharging the ship's cargo, and assisting in docking and "letting go" the ship.

Upon completing another 730 full days at sea the able seaman (AB) can take another Coast Guard exam _ paper and "hands on" _ and upon successful completion of these "milestones," the seaman is "ticketed" as an Able Seaman for life. This certification allows for the assumption of duties as a watch helmsman and/or as a bos'n. The former is responsible to the mate on duty.

In port or at sea duties and responsibilities are not inclusive to one job or task at a time; they are consolidated as required and performed as directed whether the seaman has one day at sea or the accumulated 1,095 required to become an Able Seaman for life.

The learning experiences and on-job training are truly "pick-up" throughout the first three years at sea and a young and inexperienced sailor needs to have a mentor. In my case my mentor was an "old salt" of Norwegian extraction by the name of Blackie who sailed in clipper ships, steam turbines, and diesel electric steel bottoms.

Duties of a Seaman

To assist the interested and the motivated there are guidelines _ to climb Jacob's ladder _ by the Employment and Training Administration of the U. S. Department of Labor. These guidelines can be found in the DOL's Dictionary of Occupational Titles and enumerated in U. S. Coast Guard publications. During "the war," training was conducted at such institutions as the U. S. Merchant Marine Training Station at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY. The training facility closed in 1947 and training was by on-job-training (OJT) after that for new, post war seaman such as I. However, at least one union picked up the responsibility after 1967 and that was the Seafarer's International Union (SIU) Harry Lunderberg School of Seamanship followed by the National Maritime Unions (NMU) Upgrading and Retraining School. Six state maritime academies provide training primarily at the baccalaureate level and graduate third

officers for the deck and engine departments. The United States Military Sea Lift Command (MSC) provides retraining for seaman primarily in fire prevention and suppression. Many two year, community colleges provide education and training for the potential seafarer _ based on local needs _ and for those who wish to have a deep water career.

I have attempted to identify the jobs and tasks of a seaman as I remember them from "pick-up" training aboard ship and at sea.

The DOT's job descriptions are specific but not all encompassing but they do provide a guide. I shall enumerate them!

Ordinary Seaman 

The "Ordinary":

  • stands deck department watches

  • performs a variety of duties to preserve painted surfaces

  • maintains lines, running gear and cargo-handling gear; keeps same in safe operating condition

  • watches from bow of ship or wing of bridge for obstructions in path of ship

  • turns wheel while observing compass to steer; and keeps ship on course

  • mops (swabs) and washes down decks; uses hose to remove oil, dirt and debris

  • chips and scrapes rust spots from deck, super-structure and sides of ship; uses hand or chipping hammer and wire brush

  • paints chipped area; applies fish oil, undercoat and primer and finish 

  • splices wire rope; uses marlinespike, wire-cutters, and twine

  • splices hemp; uses marline-spike

  • sews canvas; uses three sided needles as required

When the "ordinary" completes 365 days (8,760 hours minimum) at sea, the ordinary becomes eligible to "sit for" the Able Seaman ticket. With discharges signed by every Ships' Captain sailed under, the ordinary can present his documents to the nearest Coast Guard station/office and request to take the paper, oral and "hands on" tests for certification as an Able Seaman. Once certified as an Able Seaman the certificate is "good for life." This allows the AB to, eventually, serve as a quartermaster (helmsman) and boatswain (bos'n),

Able Seaman (AB)

The AB: 

  • performs tasks on board ship to watch for obstructions in vessel's path

  • stands watch at bow and/or wing of bridge; and, "calls out" when ships or obstructions are seen

  • maintains depth of water in shallow or unfamiliar waters; uses lead line; shouts information to bridge

  • steers ship by wheel; uses emergency steering apparatus as directed by officer in charge (QIC) _ a mate, captain or ships pilot 

  • breaks out rigging and cargo handling gear; and maintains, overhauls and stows cargo handling gear

  • maintains stationary rigging and running gear

  • overhauls lifeboats and life boat equipment and gear

  • operates lifeboat winches and falls

A major part of the AB test is the "hands on" handling of a lifeboat in the water. This generally is held "dock-side" with a 360 sweep in the boat to illustrate boat handling, stepping the mast, setting the rudder, and sailing "with the wind" to bring the lifeboat to dockside and disembarking passengers. When the AB is issued the Able Seaman ticket, the AB is considered by "all hands" to be a qualified "lifeboat man."

Monthly, aboard ship, fire, lifeboat and "man overboard" drills are held. At least once a year lifeboat handling water drills are held in ship anchored areas.

AB Quartermaster
Master Craftsman

The AB-Quartermaster (helmsman): 

  • steers ship under the direction of the QIC or navigating officer

  • maintains a designated compass course

  • stands by wheel when ship is on "automatic pilot" 

  • verifies accuracy of course by comparing compass course with magnetic course

  • relays specific signals to ships in vicinity by semaphore flags and signaling shutter light (blinker)

  • directs maintenance crews in wheelhouse and quarter deck maintenance when not "at the wheel"

  • maintains ships log

  • stands "gangway" watch in port; prevents unauthorized personnel from coming "on board"

At sea _ usually the AB's second year at sea _the quartermaster begins familiarization with dead reckoning, piloting, celestial and electronic navigation. The quartermaster maintains charts (maps at sea), and charting equipment such as: compass, dividers, parallel rulers, course recorders, pelorus and binnacles, log recording devices and rotators; begins to use a sextant (personal). And, the quartermaster maintains tide tables, tidal current tables, table distances between ports and sight reduction tables.

For the next two years _ three total at sea _ the quartermaster can, by practice and study, prepare for the license as a Third Mate or Officer of ocean going vessels. If successful the new licensee moves out of the foc'sle and into a cabin. Whether or not the mate becomes a gentleman (or a lady) depends.

Often times and AB will choose to remain in the foc'sle and work as an AB-seaman and, when opportunity arises, sail as a boatswain.

Boatswain (Bos'n) 

The AB-Bos'n:

  • supervises able and ordinary seaman in their jobs and tasks on deck

  • examines cargo handling gear and life-saving equipment

  • supervises the repairing, maintenance or replacing of defective gear

The bos'n takes orders from the maintenance officer (usually a chief mate) and docking and departing instructions from the captain or the captain's surrogate _ an officer.


When I went to sea _ late 40's-mid 50's_ there were no formal training programs where one learned to be a seaman.

After 30 + years as a vocational educator it is possible to equate seaman ratings (ordinary, able and quartermaster) to industry wide training programs of: apprentice, journeyman and master. In all cases certifications are required.

"Pick-up" training for a seaman was spotty and circumstantial. One observed, assumed responsibilities, did the jobs and the tasks, asked questions and _ where and when a^ilable _ obtained a handbook of sorts to help you know, understand and apply.

The ability to take the noted Dictionary of Occupational Titles (the DOT) and apply the jobs and tasks can be facilitated to "develop" a training program; one needs only to obtain a copy of:

Moullette, Ed. D., John B. Training Start-up and Planning Guide. Tarpon Springs, FL, personal printing, 1989. 44 pp. illus. copyright number TXU-385-232 in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Incidents at Sea

After departing Camp Lejeune by troop train for travel west across the United States and after arriving at Union Station, Los Angeles, we Marines _ in the hundreds _ were shuttled by truck convoy south on US 101 to Navy Pier San Diego. There a navy band musically welcomed the Marines to board ship by an accommodation ladder. The ship was a converted freighter and an APA _ Auxiliary Personnel Attack_troop transport bound for Northern China. On the tide _ within minutes of our arrival _ the ship "slipped its lines" and backed out to sea.

The first nautical words I heard that gave a definite command were: "lower the ball and heave her in!" Whenever a ship anchors _ at sea, in an estuary, or in port _ a black, light weight ball is "run-up" the forward mast. This indicates to other ships the vessel is at anchor. When lowered it indicates the ship is "underway" _ officially.

The sea trip _ across the Pacific _ lasted about four weeks before we arrived at Taku, China. In those weeks we Marines:

  • stood "watches" around the clock and were alert for other ships, submarine torpedoes and floating mines; and, of course, for anyone afloat from any other ship.

  • grew accustomed to living in crowded quarters where our "bunks" _ each one contained a Marine and his combat equipment.

  • recognized BO and endured and showered and washed our clothes with sea water.

  • waited in long lines to reach the "mess deck" and eat "chow," and to the "heads" or latrines.

  • kept the living "quarters" clean and in "ship shape" condition by responding to the "boastwin's (bos'n's) whistle; "sweepers man your brooms for a clean sweep down fore and aft."

  • stood "lookout watches" and with the "armed guards" in their gun turrets "manned" the 50 caliber machine guns and took target practice with same.

  • experienced high seas, cold rain, and storms wearing minimum amount of weather gear while wearing a steel helmet.

  • searched the ship for a "buddy" who apparently went "overboard" as a result of being sea sick - poor guy!

  • crossed the 180th meridian _ west bound in latitude 40 30' N and entered the Domain of the Golden Dragon _ west of the International Date Line.

  • passed thru the East China Sea and entered the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula.

  • off Taku, disembarked down a "cargo net" _ (hands on the verticals; feet on the horizontals) _ into a LCI - Landing Craft Infantry - for the trip ashore and into "harm's way."

A year later the return to the States was in the troopship USS John C. Breckenridge _ Buchanan's Vice-President; Jefferson Davis' Secretary of State and a CSA General. This was a shorter and speedier trip and was one of rest, relaxation and rehabilitation.

On both voyages _ outbound - west and inbound-east _ playing cards (gambling) was a part of "off-duty" life. Blackjack (21) was my favorite and I was relatively successful. Aboard the APA I was playing and winning so much so that a technical sergeant accused me of cheating and demanded a return of his losses. I refused!

He pulled me up off the "cargo hold," grabbed me by what Marines call "the stacking swivel" and slammed me up against the "bulkhead." Again, he demanded a return of his losses; again, I refused. Pulling his Kaybar knife from its scabbard, he pressed the point of the blade against my throat. Then, he backed down_ which was a relief to me _ and walked off without saying another word to me or the Marines watching on. Since he was a NCO and I a PFC I could have pressed charges _but didn't.

Returning in the troopship one year later to San Diego I won heavily and broke a buddy. Knowing his wife was meeting him "dockside," I returned 75% of his losses and he thanked me. And, there was still plenty of liberty money for a few drinks in a bar off Grant Square.

The Steam Ship Atlantic States was my first merchant ship in the American merchant marine or what the British call the merchant navy; and, it will always have a place in my memories, (see the appendix and the Bibliography)

It was in the States where I learned more about me and my aptitudes or a lack of them; and, where I learned _ ultimately _ to be a seaman and eventually a sailor. My first trip at sea was with the Atlantic Refining Company (ARCO) and I sailed as a "Wiper" in the engine room and with the "black gang." And, it was "below decks" where I went thru the "breaking in" period as the engineer on watch sent me into the "boiler room" for a "bucket of steam" or into the "machine shop" for a left-handed wrench. Eventually, the "hazing" stopped when I began to return with the proper tools such as an "inside caliper" for measuring pipe diameters.

I don't recall any hazing after I "signed on" as a "deck hand" as an "ordinary Seaman" except I seemed to be assigned the unusual jobs: cleaning bilges, butterworthing the fuel tanks or going aloft to change a bulb in the "mast head " light 100 ' above the "main deck" without the use of a safety belt. 90' of the distance was in the seat of a "bos'n's chair"; beyond that I needed to "shimmy" to the top of the "truck," wrestle with the lights corroded "bird cages," remove the "burned out" bulb and replace the new.

On inclement days the "deck gang" would gather in the "shelter deck-mid ships" to perform _ at the Bos'n's discretion _ "marline-spike seamanship" such as: "whipping small cordage, splicing manila hemp, sewing canvas, making heaving lines and monkey fists, fashioning lanyards, reinforcing bos'n chairs and greasing blocks." "Wire splicing" was left to the bos'n but "deck hands" assisted and learned to wear leather work gloves. Generally, we worked as individuals among groups and listened to "sea stories":

  • the oldest "able seaman" was a Norwegian who sailed in four masted ships, and in brigs, barks and sloops and went to sea for the first time at the age of seven.

  • the bos'n who had been a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) in the US Navy during the war, and who sailed in two oceans at the same time!

  • the "ordinary seaman who _ in his first trip at sea _ was torpedoed in sight of the entrance to the Delaware River off the Jersey/Delaware coast.

  • the "able seaman" who was torpedoed off America's eastern coast and was awarded a merchant marine medal for bravery.

  • the "quartermaster" of a freighter off Okinawa who kept the ship on a 90 course facing inland during the naval bombardment with shells passing overhead while alongside Marines were disembarking from APA's for the invasion.

  • the merchant mariners who felt they should be considered armed forces veterans and entitled to the privileges of the G. I. Bill. Those of us who were "veterans" disagreed reminding them they: avoided the draft, had three square meals each day, slept nightly in a "bunk" with clean sheets and received a bonus when in a war zone and made more money that the most humble G. I.

  • at sea there always was the fickle sea: days and nights of rain, high seas broadside and fore and aft, and hurricanes that prevented the ship from "making headway" and the occasional "rogue wave" that "broke over the bow" and over "monkey island" the highest deck about 60' above the "water line."

Fire drills and "abandoned ship" exercises were held once monthly. Lifeboat handling and sailing was held whenever the ship was anchored off shore as in the Gatun Lake of the Panama Canal or off El-Segundo, CA, while waiting for a berth, or off Suez while waiting for North bound traffic to exit the Suez Canal. It was in these drills that I, and other novice seamen, learned to sail "with the wind."

"Off loading" and "recovering the lifeboat(s)" provided maintenance opportunities for checking the condition and equipment of the lifeboats, greasing the "gravity davits" and "rudder posts," and making certain that each seaman had a "May West" or floating device, and that each was tight and snug to the chest.

There is a myth that sailors don't or can't swim. Well, they better know how to swim if they want to survive with or without a survival vest. It was not unusual for "off watch" sailors to "take a dip." 

Anchored off Manhattan at the entrance to the Hudson River several of us put a Jacob's ladder off the port side mid ships and dove off the bow. The flow out of the Hudson was swift and it pushed us toward the ladder which we would grasp, climb aboard and dive again. Strenuous and dangerous. Had we missed the ladder the current would have sent us "out to sea" and we would have been candidates for rescue by the Coast Guard or worse "lost at sea."

On the Sabine River at Port Arthur, Texas, we dived, once, off the port side, swam under the ship, and headed to the pier. Midway we swam under the keel and another 40' to the dock. Then we realized had we lost our direction we might have had to swim toward the "bow" _ 200' + and might have drowned without ever seeing the light of day. We didn't do that again.

In the Gulf of Thailand I was scuba diving with a "buddy." We exited the dive boat on the land side and swam right into a current coming out of a river. We "dove on" a freighter fighting the current and the effort used up a lot of air. By the time I reached the ladder I was exhausted and "out of air." A diver's worst experience. That evening I became nauseous and my toes and fingers "tingled" while heading often for the "head." The first sign of the "bends" or decompression sickness _ a killer. And me! certified as a Dive Master by PADI.

Other "under water" experiences included a sting-ray ripping my mask and regulator out of my mouth and a less than a perfect and professional dive at the Barrier Reef off Cairns, Australia. That was a real embarrassment! We do learn though, from our experiences _ if we survive.

Dives after those and later in life certified me as an Aquanaut for "living and working for twenty-four hours or more in an underwater classroom laboratory at 30'."

In July 1946 the last Marines with less than 85 points for separation from the Marine Corps as World War Two veterans departed Taku, China by 1ST for transfer, at sea, to the USNS Breckenridge destined for San Diego.

The Breckenridge was a military transport with "hatches" about 15' off the surface of the sea. To transfer from the 1ST to the transport an improvised "gangway" without railing was positioned between the two ships. One could see that crossing that gangway was going to be perilous for anyone crossing and carrying a "sea bag" on his shoulder. All Marines passing over but one, made it and that Marine, fell into the sea, and was recovered; but, his "sea bag" sank into Davy Jones' Locker at the bottom of the Yellow Sea. Essentially, he had "deep sixed" his wardrobe and his personal items thus departing the ship in San Diego without a thing to his name.

Steaming out of the Port of Boston 24 June 1956 aboard the SS Maryland Sun _ Captain A. G. Baldwin, Commanding _ and following the coast line, south about 150 miles off shore, we ran into a dense fog. Standing the 8-12 watch on the bow the visibility was nil. Looking aft towards the ship's bridge I could see only blurred port and starboard "running lights" and a hazy white masthead light. I thought: "this is the densest fog I have ever experienced" and it was eerie! Being relieved at midnight, I went aft to the mess hall, grabbed a cup of coffee, and went below to my bunk. I slept with my clothes on, my shoes untied, my weather jacket and life vest nearby. I fell asleep reading The Young Lions. At 0630 I was awakened for my next watch and was told by the man on watch that the Italian liner Andrea Doria was in a collision east of our position and sinking. When I went to the bridge to "relieve the wheel" I was told by the Captain that the Andrea Doria was struck east of our position by the Swedish liner Stockholm at 2310 hours. It later sank off New York at 1000 hours 26 June at Latitude 40 30' north and Longitude 69 53' west. The Captain was advised by the Coast Guard to stay clear as there were rescue vessels on scene and an oil tanker would be a menace to navigation. That was the only premonition I ever had at sea of possible danger and it caused me to take caution.

Forty-four years earlier and in the same approximate geographic zone the British liner Titanic collided with an iceberg _ on a calm night _ at Latitude 49 56' north and Longitude 41 43' west at 2140 hours on the 14th of April 1912 and sank the next morning at 0122 hours _ 15 April _ with the loss of 1500 souls or more.

Above Corpus Christi, Texas, in the bend of the Gulf of Mexico, is Aransas Pass. On the west side of the pass is an oil terminal. Across the bay is the town of Ingleside with a ferry dock and a restaurant. Eating in the restaurant and waiting for the ferry to the terminal it rained "cats and dogs." I saw the ferry pull-in, waited for it to sound its departure whistle and ran out to jump on the stern. Reaching the dock side ramp I realized I made a terrible decision as the ferry was at least six - ten feet away from the dock. The landing was slippery and as I jumped _ intending to land on the boat deck _ I knew I wasn't going to make it and the next thing I knew I was in the bay. Underwater I could hear the ferries' "emergency whistle" and when I surfaced I heard: "man overboard." Life rings were thrown; I grasped one and was hauled over and pulled to the deck _ soakened wet. No unusual comments were made and _ after docking _ headed to the ship amidst the laughter of my mates.

I had only one fight at sea. Aboard a foreign destined tanker was a seaman who "pumped iron" and had muscles like Charles Atlas. Underway we got into an argument which I attempted to avoid by going to my foc'sle. He followed and bullied me and finally he took a swing. I backed off, protected myself from a volley of punches, and noticed he was "muscle bound." Ah! I swung into him, knocked him into a chair, and pummeled him. The next morning the fight was the talk of the mess hall and my "buddy," who was a witness, said: "Moullette you piled into him as if you were getting even with every offense ever bared on you." Perhaps, I was. No trouble from the "iron pumper," progeny of Charles Atlas, after that.


"Going to sea" is a life experience. In my time at sea I sailed with skippers with little or no formal schooling and with those who had "pick-up" education only and who became skippers thru ship board study and the passing of examinations without "cheat sheets." And, then of course there were those skippers who attended "the academies," such as the United States Maritimes Academy at Kings Point, New York, and who graduated with a bachelor's degree, and a third officer's license. All required continued ship board study to become second mates, first mates, chief mates, captains, and ship board pilots for rivers, canals, and ocean ways leading to ports and estuaries. Most shared their knowledge and experiences; others harbored theirs. I preferred the former and one captain recommended me for my first _ and only_ tour of duty as a bos'n. That was an honor and recognized as such by my ship mates. And, of course it was a tremendous learning experience _ supervising and leading experienced sailors, commanding the daily activities of seamen, and being included in shipboard decisions and decision making.

Those days are behind me for now; but, I yearn for one more trip _ not on a cruise ship or even a liner _ where I can feel the wind in my hair and the sea spray in my face. That may not be possible but I keep dreaming as I did when I was a kid. And, who knows, the "fickle finger of fate" may yet point my way.



Maritime Training
813-934-9539 (T) 813-942-6748 (F)

Consultant to Military Sealift Command - Atlantic (MSCLANT),
Headquarters, Bayonne, NJ, 31 March thru 10 May 1996.

  • Studied, evaluated, and rated United States Navy Education and Training Documents (NAVEDTRAD) in Basic Shipboard Firefighting, Helicopter Firefighting, and Shipboard Damage Control against recognized Instructional Systems Development (ISO) standards for conformance and levels of instructional difficulty at the Afloat Personnel Management Center, Bayonne, NJ, 01 April thru 08 April 1996. Evaluations and ratings CONFIDENTIAL.

  • Observed, evaluated, and rated naval trained instructors in the delivery of subject content instruction against established terminal, enabling, and performance objectives as recorded in subject NAVEDTRA documents in relation to ISO standards for conformance in the training of civilian Mariners at the MSCLANT Fire Training School, Naval Weapons Station, Earle, NJ, 09 April thru 22 April 1996. Evaluations and ratings CONFIDENTIAL.

  • Observed, evaluated, and rated randomly selected groups of Civilian Mariners in emergency drills for performance capabilities measured against training objectives, instructor delivery, and shipboard job descriptions for emergencies aboard the USNS COMFORT (T-AH20) - a hospital ship - at sea and in support of a Military Readiness Evaluation (MRE), 23 April thru 10 May 1996. Evaluations and ratings CONFIDENTIAL.

14 May 1996
Tarpon Springs, Florida

Prepared for Battle - Unprepared
John B. Moullette

Let me put this in perspective. I came out of World War II as a Private First Class in Able Company, First Battalion, First Marines, and out of the occupation of North China as a Corporal in the same outfits of the First Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Pacific.

Seeking further adventure at the age of 19 I sailed in the American Merchant Marine first as an Ordinary Seaman, then as an Able Seaman, and - finally - as a Quartermaster (helmsman) for three years before being recalled to the Marines for the "police action" in Korea.

Departing almost immediately for Korea via the Receiving Station at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, infantry (re-)training at Camp Le Jeune, and overseas assembling at Camp Pendleton, I arrived in the Pusan Perimeter by airflights touching down at Honolulu, Wake Island, and Tachikawa, Japan; and, then by a train ride to Kobe and a short sea voyage to Korea.

Short on forces "up on the line," I - with many others - was trucked to the front where I joined as a replacement - much to my surprise - A-l-1, where - after a short "snapping in" period - I became a Squad Leader. The fighting against the North Koreans was incessant and continuous and where days fused into nights and nights fused into days with no letup of casualties. I was prepared for this, but not for what was to follow.

Soon after the first of September 1950,1 was ordered to the port of Pusan without explanation and arrived there hoping for an R & R. But, the port was too crowded with LSTs, the docks too crowded with supplies, and the "holding areas" too crowded with Marines - all suffering from fatigue and all looking on with "the stare."

After "crapping out" for about an hour I heard my name called. I answered to a Master Gunnery Sergeant with a clipboard in his hand. Following his verbal command, I - and others -followed him to a beached LST and up the ramp and into a cavernous expanse of LVTs (landing vehicles tracks) three abreast. The Gunny lead us down the rows and called out the numbers and associated personal names, Mine was three port meaning I was assigned to #3 Tractor on the port side of the LST facing forward.

Somewhat confused, I shouted out and asked the Gunny: "when is my squad, still at the front, coming on board?" He replied; "I don't know what you mean; you are assigned to this tractor as the driver." I replied: "You've got to be kidding" as I had never driven an LVT and went ashore at Okinawa on an LCI, (landing craft infantry) sometimes called a Higgins Boat. There was much laughter among the men as the Gunny insisted I was listed with an MOS (military occupation specialist) of such and such a number. I was astounded! "How could that be? I had always been a grunt," I said. And, the Gunny said: "Here it is in black and white" with continuous laughter among my future shipmates on the LST.

Then, it dawned on me - coming through the Receiving Station at Philadelphia, the "guidance sergeant" asked my civilian occupation and I responded: "Able Seaman - Quartermaster." Undoubtedly, he thumbed through his military dictionary of occupational titles and equated it with - amphibious tractor driver. The Gunny saw no ifs, ands, or buts about it and LVT-3-Port became my tractor.

Fortunately, others in the crowd were trained as amphibious tractor drivers at Camp Del Mar and they took it upon themselves to train me in an accelerated fashion. Sitting in the left seat, I was instructed how to "power-up" and how to drive forward - just a few feet - by braking left and braking right and how to put it in reverse - doing the same thing again and again - not in the water or on land - but at sea while the LST was underway.

With Marines from the front we were headed for what was to become the landing at Inchon. With naval ships pounding the coast with artillery, the landing Marines were loaded into the LVTs - 30 to mine. My heart was in my stomach and other parts of my anatomy were tight. I had the lives of 30 plus Marines in my hands.

The red landing light went off, the yellow light came on for an indeterminable amount of time with sweat running dawn my face and elsewhere. Then came the green light and the AMTRACs on the portside of the LST started to move. I released the brakes and rolled in controlled fashion - down the deck and down the ramp and into the water. I wasn't prepared for the instant sinking of the tractor; sea water appeared over the peep sight and water from an open bilge port poured in - ankle deep for the 30 Marines, who began to scream. "Christ," I thought, "I'm going to drown us all." In one quick motion the AMTRAC bobbed to the surface, the tracks caught the friction of the water, and the tractor was moving forward right behind LVT-2-Port, and the screaming stopped when the Assistant Driver and machine gunner announced "all is well and the bilge port is closed."

I had been briefed with others that after departing the LST we had no more than 60 minutes to make it to the beach as the tide would go out and we would be stranded and subject to enemy small arms fire and artillery bombardments.

I felt the tracks grasp the sand and the gravel of the beach and I moved the tractor along until the beach-master motioned me to the, left of LVT-2 and then brought me horizontally in line with other tractors and signaled me to stop.

The third man of LVT-2 lowered the ramp in the rear and 30 Marines poured out to the left and right -of th&tractor and formed a defensive position facing inland and th@ possible onslaught from the North Koreans. "My Marines" followed.

Turning the engines off and "shutting down," I exited the tractor, looked out on the sea to see several^ tractors bogged; down in the mud flats, and I turned my attention to the "perimeter." The -Marines were "hunkered down" and the perimeter was secure. LVT-3-Port was in a defensive position and its machine gun manned. The next morning - at early dawn - the Marines moved forward and LVT-3^Port and other tractors followed providing the necessary covering fire.

Finally, a break came for chow and I was able to reflect on a battle I was unprepared for - getting 30 men ashore, safely.


Steamship (S.S.) Atlantic States

The Atlantic States was my first merchant ship and I always will have strong feelings for her and for the officers and men I sailed with. They taught me all I know about sailing and all I know about seamanship. They, also, added to my knowledge of life and the ways and means of people.

This is strange! All the years I was aboard the States no one ever mentioned that the ship had been torpedoed off the east coast of the United States and struck with an unexploded torpedo presumably shot 5 April 1945, by the German U-Boat 857, which was reported operating in the area.

The submerged sub was attacked by an American naval ship but no evidence of the U-Boat floated to the surface.

Decades later it was learned that the sub that attacked the States was U-Boat 869. This information came to my attention by reading Shadow Divers. Please see the Bibliography. Amazing!

National Vessel Documentation Center 
Attn: Ms. Jennifer R. Barney
          Records and Research Assistant
792 T.J. Jackson Drive 
Falling Waters, WV 25419-9502

Ms. Jennifer R. Barney:

Thank you for returning my call last Friday and for your letter and materials of nearly three (3) years ago (9/17/2004). A copy is enclosed.

With respect to my recent phone request, I have decided to limit my research and focus on one (1) ship that was in Atlantic Refining Company's fleet between the years 1945 and 1952 inclusively. That ship, a tanker, is/was the SS Atlantic States. The specific information requested is: 

  • hull or construction number

  • name of the shipyard where built and, perhaps, the city and state

  • date of construction and/or launching; and,

  • the vessel's official number

Here is a dilemma: prior to 1946, inclusive, the official number of the Atlantic States was 240036 and there after it became243036. (Merchant Vessels of the United States --Index of Managing Owners).

Perhaps there is a reason _ on record _ for this change which you might share.

Other data relative to the Atlantic States that would be helpful is:

  • overall length of the ship

  • breadth (width) of the ship

  • the ship's displacement tonnage; and,

  • the draft of the vessel

Again, thank you for your assistance _ past and present and I look forward to hearing from you.

John B. Moullette


U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged on Eastcoast and Gulf of Mexico During World War II (Page 1 of 10)

U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged on Eastcoast of U.S, and Gulf of Mexico During World War II

Eastcoast of U.S. (174 ships)

Eastcoast of U.S. 1941 (2 ships)

Date Ship Type Cause Result Location Deaths
12/10/41 Oregon (States Steamship) Freighter Collision Sunk Eastcoast Crew 17
12/26/41 Nancy Moran Tug Collision Sunk Eastcoast Unknown


Eastcoast of U.S. 1942 (121 ships)

Date Ship Type Cause Result Location Deaths
01/08/42 General Richard Arnold (USAT) Mine planter Capsized Sunk Eastcoast Crew 10
01/14/42 Brazos Freighter Collision Sunk Eastcoast None
01/17/42 San Jose Freighter Torpedo and Collision Sunk Eastcoast None
01/17/42 Santa Elisa Freighter Collision Damaged Eastcoast None

U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged on Eastcoast and Gulf of Mexico During World War II (Page 7 of 10)

Eastcoast of U.S. 1945 (16 ships)

Date Ship Type Cause Result Location Deaths
01/02/45 Sunoco Tanker Explosion Sunk & salvaged Eastcoast Crew 10
02/05/45 Clio Tanker (Panama) Collision/Fire Damaged Eastcoast Unknown
02/05/45 Spring Hill Tanker Collision/Fire Damaged Eastcoast Crew 9; AG 11
03/08/45 Benjamin R. Milam Liberty Explosion Sunk-salvaged Eastcoast Unknown
04/05/45 Atlantic States Tanker Torpedo Damaged Eastcoast None
04/05/45 Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer Fishing boat Depth charge Sunk Eastcoast Crew 3
04/18/45 Swiftscout Tanker Torpedo Sunk Eastcoast Crew 1
04/23/45 John Carver Liberty Explosion during repairs Total loss Eastcoast Unknown
05/05/45 Black Point Collier Torpedo Sunk Eastcoast Crew 11; AG 1
08/24/45 Marguerite Le Hand Freighter Collision Unknown Eastcoast Unknown
10/17/45 Joshua W. Alexander Liberty Grounded Damaged Eastcoast Unknown
10/21/45 Medford Fishing trawler Collision Sunk Eastcoast Crew 7
10/21/45 Thomas H. Barry (USAT) Troopship Collision Damaged Eastcoast None
12/31/45 R. S. Wilson Liberty Grounded Total loss Eastcoast Unknown

Ports of Call

Outside the Continental
United States of America

Outside the United States of America Countries and Ports

Antilles, Netherlands
















Kampong Som

Phnom Penh








Port Said






Le Havre






Hong Kong

Ireland (Eire)











Johor Baharu






New Zealand


Northern Ireland




Panama City

Saudi Arabia








Port Sudan











And a Black Sea port

United Kingdom






La Guaira

Puerto la Cruz


Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)

Virgin Islands


Road Town


Ports of call, continents visited, longitude and latitude lines crossed and routes traversed can be traced by referencing:

  • Moullette, Ed. D., John B. International Relations, Selected Speeches and Writings. Tarpon Springs, FL_ personal _ 1993. 67 pp. illus.


Maps of the World

Countries Visited by Major Locations

Merchant Marine Discharges


Library of Congress


Selected Readings

American Merchant Seaman's Manual, sixth edition. Centreville MD, Cornell Maritime Press, 1994. 614 pp. illus. *

Dictionary of Occupational Titles, fourth edition, volume II. Washington, DC, United States Department of Labor, 1991. 991pp.

Essential World Atlas, third edition. London, George Philip, Ltd., 2001,177 pp. illus.

Hidden Depths - Atlas of the Ocean. New York, Harper Collins Publishers, 2007. 251 pp. illus.

Ballard, Robert D. with Michael S. Sweeney. Return to Titanic. Washington, DC., National Geographic Society, 2004.187 pp. illus.

Beilan, Dr. Michael H. Your Offshore Doctor. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc., 1985.178 pp. illus.

Butler, John A. Sailing on Friday. Washington, DC. Brassey's, 1997. 277 pp. illus.

Drawer, George, Boats, Boffins and Bowlines. Gloucestershire, UK, Sutton Publishing, Ltd, 2005. 231 pp. illus.

Gautreau, Norman G. Sea Room. San Francisco, CA, Mac Adam/Cage Publishing, undated. 311 pp. 

Gleichauf, Justin F. Unsung Sailors. Annapolis, MD, Naval Institute Press, 2002. 418 pp. illus.

Hackman, Gene and Daniel Lenihan. Wake of the Perdido Star. New York, New Market Press, 1999. 380 pp.

Herbert, Brian. Forgotten Heroes, The. New York, Tom Doherty Associates, Lie, 2004. 307 pp.

Kurson, Robert and U-869 Partnership. Shadow Divers. New York, Random House, Inc., 2004. 348 pp. illus.

Lambert, Andrew. War at Sea ... 1650-1850. New York, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005. 229 pp. illus. 

Littel, Alan. Courage. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2007.148 pp. illus.

McCarthy, Tom. Incredible Tales of the Sea. Guilford, CT, The Lyons Press, 2005. 238 pp.

Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Battle of the Atlantic 1939-1943. Edison, NJ, Castle Books, 1947. 422 pp. illus.

Moullette, John B. Ed. D. International Relations, selected speeches and writings. Tarpon Springs, FL, personal publication, copyrighted Library of Congress, 1993. 83 pp. illus.

Noms de Plume ... copyrighted Library of Congress, 1992.16 pp. illus. Offley, Ed. Scorpion Down. New York, Basic Books, 2007. 466 pp. illus. 

Sandier, Martin W. Resolute. New York, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2006. 299 pp. illus. 

Shaffer, Rick. Your Guide to the Sky. Los Angeles, CA, Lowell House, 1994.166 pp. illus.

*The sixth edition of the American Merchant Seaman's Manual _ William B. Hayler, Master Mariner, Editor in Chief _ is based on the original edition by Felix M. Cornell and Allan C. Hoffman _ copyrighted (5)1938.

Other Writings

By John B. Moullette,  Ed. D.

Selected Leadership Dimensions of Management Personnel in Vocational Education. General Education. Industry and the Military Doctoral Dissertation, Rutgers University, June 1970

Technical Writing Masters Degree Project, Rutgers University, July 1964 Training Start-up and Planning Guide, 1989

The Noms de Plume of the Young John Brinkley Moullette , 1992

Collected Poetry of Clarence Earle Moullette - an Anthology, editor 1992 International Relations, selected speeches and writings ..., 1993 Experiences in Cambodia, July 1993 thru December 1994, July 2007 Platoon 396, 27 June thru 05 September 1944,, July 2007 Danish Emigrants to America, Margaret Dorothy Philipsen, 1900-1967

Significant Dates in the Life and Times of Colonel Charles E. Broyles, Georgia Volunteer Infantry. Confederate States Army, 1861-1906

Experiences at NYC Ground Zero, reported 12 March 2002, Valley Courier, Alamosa, CO, upon request for a written account