Be sure to read excerpts from the Personal Log of Mr. and Mrs. Albert V. Moore from their voyage Aboard the S.S. MORMACREY from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles via the Straits of Magellan and Smyth Channel – November 18 to December 8, 1951.

Moored in the Port of Long Beach (Photo courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth Copyright © 2003-2004 - All rights reserved. Do not reproduce. If anyone wants copies, please email Tom at


Mormacrey Rescue

("The Mooremack News," January 1949)

(Courtesy of John-Paul DeRosa)

The Mormacrey raced to the rescue of 36 British seamen early in January 1949 when the tanker Adellen began taking water off Cartagena.

Captain W. H. Whilden of the Mormacrey attempted to tow the wallowing tanker to shore, but heavy seas parted the line.  When it appeared that the Adellen might sink, Captain Whilden brought the 36 men off by lifeboat



Mormacrey to the Rescue!

("The Mooremack News," April 1949)

(Courtesy of Vincent Fiorenza)

The dramatic story of the rescue of 36 tanker crew members during the early morning hours of January 4 in a gale-tossed Caribbean Sea, 350 miles from the Canal Zone, was revealed in a report submitted by the Master of the S.S. Mormacrey, cargo-passenger vessel of the Moore-McCormack Lines.

W. R. Whilden, Master of the S.S. Mormacrey, en route to Cristobal in the Canal Zone, described how, on January 2, his radio operator, Ruel E. Cowden, picked up an urgent broadcast indicating that the fully loaded oil tanker S.S. Adellen, bound from Cartagena, Colombia, to Curacao, N.W.I., was floundering in heavy seas with disabled engines and required quick assistance.  The Mormacrey’s course was immediately ordered changed to the direction of the distressed vessel, and a radio message was sent out advising that the freighter was coming to the rescue.  Radio directions were also given to the tanker to spread an oil slick to help calm the heavy seas.

The stricken tanker was contacted by radio again in the early morning of the next day, notifying the master that the Mormacrey was within 25 miles and directing the tanker to prepare for rescue. The radio reply indicated that there were no lights or steam available on the tanker, and that the well-decks were awash, therefore eliminating the possibility of handling lines amidships. The tanker, however, suggested that she would fire a rocket with heaving lines attached for the Mormacrey to take mooring amidship.

At 10 o’clock that night, the Mormacrey approached the tanker, after first carefully circling.  Eight minutes later she received the line fired from the tanker.  Both vessels were now abreast of each other, rolling in the heavy swells while arrangements were being made for another line to go from aft to stern of the tanker.  Signal light directions then blinked to the Mormacrey asking her to stand by until daylight.  However, a sudden radio message at 1:45 in the morning of January 3 frantically requested that the Mormacrey close in as the Adellen was in serious danger, with more than 16 feet of water in her engine room.  The crisis passed, however, as the Mormacrey stood by for an emergency rescue of the Adellen’s crew members.

At 4:10 that morning, with a northeast gale blowing down on the two vessels, all hands aboard the Mormacrey turned to as maneuvers were begun to fasten another line aboard the tanker.  As the rescue vessel came abreast once more, a rocket-propelled hawser was shot aboard the tanker and made fast.  Three hours later, proceeding slowly ahead with the tanker in tow, the freighter suddenly lurched as the heavy lines snapped apart.  More than 2½ hours were required to maneuver along-side again in the rough seas, and another rocket line was fired.  This time a towing wire was secured.  By noon the Mormacrey had commenced towing again, but less than an hour later this tow wire parted as well.  Once more the Mormacrey reversed engines and pulled away to maneuver into position.

Ruel Cowden, Radio Operator, reports to Captain W. R. Whilden when the Adellen task is completedMeanwhile the tanker was rolling very heavily in the wind-swept sea—her decks heavily awash. The Mormacrey continued circling closely near the floundering vessel until the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 4, when a blinker message from the tanker notified that lifeboats were being readied for "abandon ship."  Aboard the Mormacrey, the steward prepared blankets and hot coffee in readiness for the Adellen’s crew members.  Jacob’s ladders were lowered alongside as volunteers offered to man a rescue lifeboat if it became necessary to launch one.  Every man aboard the rescue ship was at an emergency station ready to render aid.

The powerful searchlight acted as a guiding beam as the first lifeboat was lowered from the Adellen into the rough sea, and 21 crew members pulled toward the freighter.  Soaking wet, but cheerful, they clambered aboard to be greeted by the cheers and backslaps of their rescuers.

Another lifeboat with 15 more men was lowered from the tanker, and the Mormacrey maneuvered into position to receive this second boat.  Tossing like a cork in the huge rollers, the lifeboat crew fought against the sea for 31 minutes before the last seaman was assisted safely aboard the Mormacrey and the lifeboat cut away.  Six men chose to remain aboard the tanker — the Master, Chief Engineer, 3rd Mate, 1st Asst. Engineer, and a galley boy.  Blinker messages between the Mormacrey and the Adellen continued in order to keep up the spirits of the men remaining aboard.

All through the night the Mormacrey kept up her vigil.  At one time the Adellen blinked "please keep close as we are taking much water aboard."

Later another message from the tanker: "Your light is a very cheery signal to see."

Under the powerful beams of the freighter’s searchlight, figures could be seen scurrying about the stern of the tanker, readying lifeboats in the event a quick departure was necessary during the night.

The early morning of January 5 found seas and swells continuing very heavily.  Strong northeast winds kept the stricken vessel awash and rolling sluggishly and heavily, with mountains of water pouring over her.

At 8:30 am, a radio message was received from the tug Relief, stating that she was racing toward the scene at top speed.  "Lay a smoke screen to help us find you," radioed the salvage tug.  However, it was not until 10:22 that night that the tug was sighted approximately eight miles away.  By 11:40 p.m. the tug had maneuvered into position to send out a heavy manila hawser across the bow of the seemingly lost vessel.  However, shortly after midnight, the powerful tug took up the strain on the hawser and proceeded slowly to tow.  Anxiously, everyone prayed the rope would hold — and it did.

A happy radio message was sent from the Master of the Adellen to the Mormacrey, acknowledging his sincere thanks and those of his crew.  Aboard the Mormacrey, Captain Whilden ordered the course changed for original destination— Cristobal.  



Good Samaritan

("The Mooremack News," June 1950)

(Courtesy of John-Paul DeRosa)

The S.S. Mormacrey served as a good samaritan during a recent voyage.  Northbound from Belem, Brasil, to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, she sighted a schooner, the America, flying a distress signal.

Captain I. Molaugg, master of the Mormacrey, hove his ship to, and a small boat from the schooner came alongside.  The schooner was out from Spain with 105 passengers aboard.  She had exhausted her provisions, being 48 days out from the Canary Islands, and did not know her position.  She was bound for LaGuaira, Venezuela.

Captain Molaugg gave the schooner supplies and a map, and directions to LaGuaira.




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