SHIP NAME:  Mormacgulf (1)



BUILDER:  Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi


KEEL LAID:   June 28, 1941


LAUNCH  DATE:  February 15, 1942



SPEED:  18


OUTSTANDING POINTS:   Never turned over to Moore-McCormack Lines


SUBSEQUENT HISTORY:  Commissioned by the US Navy on April 9, 1943 and simultaneously transferred via the Lend-Lease program to the United Kingdom.  Than same day she was renamed HMS Chaser D32.  Returned to the US Navy custody May 12, 1946 and sold to merchant service to the Dutch on December 20, 1946 as Aagtekerk Destroyed in the later part of 1972 or 1973.



SHIP NAME:  Mormacgulf (2)

OFFICIAL NO:  249698


BUILDER:  Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi



CHRISTENED BY:  Mrs. Styles Bridges, wife of US Senator from New Hampshire.




SPEED:  17.5

PASSENGERS: 12 in 6 staterooms.

OUTSTANDING POINTS:   See Mooremack stories below and next page.

PRIOR HISTORY: New for Moore-McCormack

SUBSEQUENT HISTORY:  She was stripped at 23rd Street of all non-essentials from passenger quarters and scrapped by Moore-McCormack in July 1970 in Kaoshung, Taiwan.


Mormacgulf maiden voyage


The Mormacgulf returns to New York, completing her maiden voyage. 

In drydock. (Courtesy of William Cilley, who served as Chief Mate.)


Mormacgulf in Welland Canal


The ship is in the Welland Canal between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.  Bill Cilley can be seen in the photo.  He is the officer on the foredeck with one of the crew standing directly behind him. (Courtesy of William Cilley, who served as Chief Mate.)


Tall Tales

("The Mooremack News," December 1947)

(Courtesy of Vincent Fiorenza)

When the Mormacgulf stopped at Boston recently en route to Montreal, Captain J. R. Hodges was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor.  The amusing story that resulted from this interview was written by John Bunker, and is reproduced below in its entirety with the permission of the Monitor:

"Passengers who ride the SS Mormacgulf of Moore-McCormack Lines to South America never quite convince themselves that Capt. J. R. Hodges is just Master of the ship.

"They keep thinking that this distinguished-appearing Ship Master, in Boston on the Mormacgulf this week, is more likely a tycoon, a new Ambassador off to some South American post, or perhaps a noted archaeologist southward bound to prod among Inca ruins.Captain J. R. Hodges behind model of Mormacgulf

"But Captain Hodges, although he doesn’t act like the old salt that passengers usually expect to see, has had enough adventure in his twenty years in the merchant marine to fill a rip- roaring thriller of the sea … and one well spiced with laughs, for skipper Hodges has a reputation as a practical joker par excellence.

"He commanded the SS Mormacmoon in 1942 when it was only one of four merchant ships from a convoy of 12 that got safely through to Malta with supplies for that embattled island.  That voyage, in the first convoy to breach the Malta blockade, was an epic in itself, but Captain Hodges likes better to talk about the time when he was Admiral of the Colombian Navy.  There’s more humor in that.

"Back in 1932 when the Colombian port of Leticia was seized by Peru a virtual state of war existed in the jungles of the upper Amazon.

"'While the League of Nations tried to settle the trouble, both nations hurriedly recruited military and naval adventurers of many nations for what appeared would soon be a large-scale war.

"It was then that Captain Hodges was offered—and accepted—the job as Admiral and Commander in Chief of the Colombian Navy.

"Flying his Admiral’s flag on the cruiser Cucata, the ex-12,000 ton American freighter, Commercial Traveler, Captain Hodges led a fleet of 12 gunboats and destroyers more than 2,700 miles up the Amazon to disputed Leticia.  On board the ships were 4,000 fully equipped soldiers led by English and German officers, and the crews of the warships stood by their guns day and night for the battle they expected was inevitable with the Peruvian fleet.  However, the two fleets never met and Admiral Hodges reinforced the garrison at Leticia before the Peruvian land forces could reach the scene and provoke battle.

"'It was fun,' he recalls, ‘but I’m glad we never fired a shot.  I don’t know how I would have made out as an Admiral.'

"Fun-loving Hodges claims credit for playing an old trick of the sea on a highfalutin’ group of sophisticated New Yorkers who once rode his ship to Buenos Aires.

"When the vessel was off Miami the skipper circulated the rumor that they would soon be passing a mail buoy and that all passengers desiring to dispatch letters should get them to him immediately.

"Within an hour he had a stack of letters and, depositing them in the ship’s safe, dumped some old papers in a sack and took them on deck.  When the ship soon passed a whistle buoy off Miami he ordered the Bos'n to ‘heave the sack as near the buoy as possible so the Coast Guard can pick it up.'  Much to the delight of the passengers, who thought their letters were in the sack, it went sailing overboard and floated close by the buoy.  Soon, the passengers thought, the Coast Guard would come along and pick up their mail for delivery.

"At the first port the ship made in the Caribbean, Captain Hodges took the actual letters from the ship’s safe and, secretly, sent them back to New York on a northbound ship.

"The passengers, ignorant of the ruse, later wrote glowing letters to the Ship’s operators, complimenting Captain Hodges on getting their mail back home so quickly 'by his intelligent use of the mail-buoy system.'"


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