Cargo Liners


Cargo TROOPSHIP VS. Ocean Liner travel

Nine former troopships operated by Moore-McCormack Lines operated on an emergency basis to fill the gap in transatlantic shipping.  They provided a low-cost transportation, a new kind of shipboard camaraderie.  In 1947 John E. Booth wrote an article explaining the differences between a luxury ocean liner and a former Mooremack troopship after he crossed the Atlantic Ocean on the Marine Flasher.  The following are excerpts of the article:


It starts when one buys a ticket.  The travel agent does not discuss the perfection of the ship's cuisine or the impeccability of its service, nor does he dwell at length on the scheme of interior decoration.  The agent will say that the ship is being run on an emergency basis, that the usual refinements of transatlantic voyages have been eliminated in the name of economy and the passengers should expect little more than elementary comforts.  These words are repeated on the ticket.

The fare to England ranges between $175 and $149 for the women and a flat $117 for men.  The fare to France is between $190 and $167 for women and $127 for men.  The few other expenses aboard include tips for the stewards and whatever incidental expenses passengers may incur at the canteen which sells soft drinks, candy, and sundries.  There is no bar.

The problem of clothing need not seriously trouble any prospective voyager.  Any costume adapted especially to the trip will show a far wider range in creativeness and imagination than could be found probably in the most provocative Paris collection.

Once aboard, the passenger is directed to his berth, not his cabin.  Women have quarters accommodating four to twenty-four persons.  Some of the quarters have a semi-private bathroom.  Men sleep in open troop quarters which hold more than 100 occupants each.  The berths are arranged in tiers of four.  Passengers will be able to develop a lively appreciation of the restricted space in which troops traveled even though the ships carry only about a third as many passengers as they did soldiers.

Each bunk is complete with mattress, clean linen, blankets, several towels, and a piece of soap.  A steward is assigned to each section and the quarters are kept trim, the bunks made daily.  Lavatory facilities are also well cared for and passengers have at their disposal showers with water as hot as could be wanted.  All can count on cleanliness without frills.

The majority of the passengers eat in the cafeteria on C-Deck although a certain number of the women can eat in the more expensive accommodations and nearly all the children eat in the dining room with steward service.  The food resembles regular Army meals so a veteran cannot help but admire the genius capable of achieving such accurate imitation. 

The problem of evading the determined, grinning social director does not trouble passengers aboard the Marine Flasher.  Entertainment consists of several movies and a couple of nights of horse-racing in the D-Deck hold, and perhaps a dance to the accompaniment of a phonograph.

On bright days passengers are inclined to spend all of their time outside on either the promenade deck or the sun deck, both of which are equipped with deck chairs.  If it is a bad day, one can leisure in the lounge (a word that must be used with restraint) which consists of eight or nine card tables, a number of canvas chairs, several upholstered benches, and a water cooler.

It is safe to say that passengers who make the trip aboard the Marine ships will not be dissatisfied if they know what to expect.  They might even follow the example of the Marine Flasher's passengers who sent a letter to the captain thanking him and his crew and expressing their pleasure in the entire trip.



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