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"LAST OF THE BOOM SHIPS"

Jim Whalen contacted us and told us about a book he wrote entitled, "Last of the Boom Ships," and that we might be interested in reading it. The book contains colorful and in some cases, humorous, oral histories by 14 men and 1 woman of the U.S. Merchant Marine during the period from 1927 to 2000.

With Jim’s permission, we are inserting a few excerpts from two of many stories from Mooremack’s own George E. McCarthy, Jr., who kept a log of every day while he was at sea:

The following is a small section from George McCarthy’s story in the Chapter entitled, "Wartime":

*      *      *

The Sun Never Sets on the Mormacmoon [sic]

We sailed for Suez on December 7, 1942. What a difference in my life in one year!

"Bound for Suez with a smaller escort fleet, the convoy was attacked the first day out by torpedo-carrying planes. One officer and two ratings were killed ... on the naval escort .... Next day, just as the flags were being lowered for funeral exercises for these men, five Junkers 88s attacked again, dropping three bombs ... five more attacked ... a single escorting Spitfire engaged a whole squadron of Junkers, bringing down two ... the trip back from Malta was even rougher than the trip out.

... at 5:40 P.M. ... attacked by a squadron of the same planes.   Bombs dropped in the near vicinity of the vessel ... a lone Junker came in close overhead ... dropped his bombs which fell about 150 feet astern ... shaking the vessel extremely heavy.

A destroyer escort made contact with an enemy submarine and dropped depth charges less than a half mile from the ship ... December 11 ... reached Port Said ... all happy to be there and without damage to the vessel or her personnel .... Every officer and man did his duty in a manner commensurate with the traditions of the sea.

From Port Said the Mormacmoon sailed for Mombasa, Kenya ...."

*      *      *

My log for December 25, 1942 reads, "At sea. Merry Christmas! Like hell!"

I went ashore with a Gunner’s Mate in Mombasa. The buses wouldn’t stop, and we couldn’t find a ricksha. We ran back to the ship for a midnight sailing. Only her bowline was still ashore, and they brought us aboard in the eye of it.

*      *      *

The following is George McCarthy’s entire story in the chapter entitled, "Heavy Weather."

I joined the SS Mormacdale [sic] as Chief Mate on August 25, 1948, sailed from New York for Brazil on August 30th, and met a hurricane on August 31st. The tarpaulins covering Number 3 hatch blew away. In heavy rollers I went out with the Deck Crew to put two tarps on. To put the wind on the stern, the Captain ordered full ahead and hard left, then stopped engines, to get through the troughs in the seas and get a lee. The wind blew the dirt in the tarps all over us and ripped my shirt off. We secured the first tarp on the hatch and then the second one over it.

The Captain gave the crew and the officers bottles of whiskey to celebrate completing the difficult job. The twelve passengers, including some missionaries, looked at me, no shirt and covered with dirt, like I was a pirate.

*       *      *

George E. McCarthy, Jr., later became Staff Captain on the S.S. Brazil.  His daughter, Diana Bernard, contacted us in late summer 2003 while we were trying to save the S.S. Argentina.   She joined us in trying to save her.

 

If you wish to know more about the author, Jim Whalen, and to order "Last of the Boom Ships," please check out Jim’s web site at: http://www.boomships.com.  When you place your order, just tell him Ginger and Bill sent you over from the Mooremack site.

 

 

T.S. Empire State VI -- Current Training Ship of SUNY Maritime College, 1990 - Present.  Former S.S. Mormactide.

"Our current training ship was laid down as S.S. Oregon at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company Newport News, Virginia.  The vessel was built for States Steamship Company and was launched on September 16, 1961.  She was delivered to her owners in February of 1962 for service in the Pacific trades.  In the 1970s, the vessel was purchased by Moore-McCormack Lines for the South American trade.  She was renamed Mormactide and operated by that company until 1982 when she was taken out of service.  The vessel changed ownership one [sic] more time.  United States Lines purchased the vessel but did not have the opportunity to operate her.  She was turned over to the Federal Government and laid up in the Reserve Fleet in the James River in December 1982.  In November of 1988, the Mormactide was taken under tow through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Bay Shipbuilding Corporation in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.  There the vessel was converted to a public nautical training ship and re-named Empire State VI.  She was delivered to the State University of New York Maritime College on December 31, 1989."

 

The above information about the Mormactide is taken from an excerpt of the

"Self-Guided Walking Tour" of the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, New York,

and sent to us by Robert Castano.

 

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