Moore-McCormack Profile



At the Beginning –

Armed with initial capital of only $5,000 and an almost visionary faith in the future of trade with South America, the founders lost no time in putting their experience and ideas to the test.  They always worked in the same room and at desks facing one another.  What one didn‘t know ... the other one did!  Though the size and location of the room changed over the years, the point remained the same!  This simple and direct blending of knowledge, talent, and experience accounts–in large measure–for the extraordinary results which were achieved.

The legendary J.P. Morgan and Robert Bacon held half interest

with Moore and McCormack in the first vessel – the Barnstable.

Signs of Progress –

Careful planning and a commitment to a definite line of action soon caused things to happen.  Cargoes were booked.  Trends were established.  Opportunities found.  Skeptics dealt with.  It‘s hard to believe now, but in 1913 U.S. passengers traveled to South America by way of Europe.  Moore & McCormack sent the first U.S. flag vessel to visit South America in 26 years!  Early voyages brought back essential cargoes of coffee, salt hides, wool and other raw materials ... introduced U.S. production knowledge and machinery to South America for the first time.  This was forceful action!  By 1916, the Company had earned the support of important financiers and a loan of $100,000 with which to expand their thriving operations.

World War I –

Many European neutrals, seeking other trade routes for their vessels, began to call on the experience of Moore and McCormack.  Working as both operators and agents, they found many new opportunities.  With the chartering of the SS Saga from Svenska-Lloyd, for example, the Company gained control of its first passenger vessel.  Before war was won, there were 15 sailings annually to South America and a vision was becoming reality.  With victory, the U.S. Government was determined to establish an adequate merchant marine.  Thus, American companies were offered the operation of some of the 2,311 war-built merchant ships–and a new era began.

An Emerging Fleet –

The Company‘s green and red house flag soon began to appear in the four corners of the world.  Services were established to the Levant and India ... to Ireland and Egypt ... to the Balkans and North Africa.  The Company also played a major role in Herbert Hoover‘s food relief program through the handling of food shipments to Baltic countries and Russia–and the first American flag service was established to Russian ports.  Later, this experience became a vital national asset during the difficult war days of the Murmansk run.  Particular emphasis was placed behind the expansion of service to South America and the development of operations to Scandinavian and Baltic countries.  Both objectives were accomplished despite vigorous domestic and international competition.  The abilities and energies of the founders and their growing family of associates were tested to the full.

The Fabulous Twenties

The fast-moving events of this decade were made to order for Moore and McCormack.  Their early performance in Scandinavian trade earned from the U.S. Government the opportunity to develop the American Scantic Line.  The confidence of the new Polish government placed the Company in a strong position in the historic conversion of the tiny fishing village of Gdynia into a thriving and modern port.  Free-wheeling international competition stimulated Company growth while mail payments under the M.O. 4 Agreement helped to stabilize the Company‘s financial structure.  The Company also developed the Mooremack Gulf Line to move melons, oranges and other perishables from Gulf ports to waiting northern markets.  Simultaneously, sailings continued to South America.  Constant adaptation to new political, financial and business changes strengthened the Company as nothing else could. 

Meeting a Depression –

With intimate knowledge of foreign markets and opportunities, Moore and McCormack stimulated American business thinking towards the ports as an effective way out of the depression.  The first completely assembled cards were shipped to South America.  The first sizeable shipments of fresh fruit were delivered to Scandinavian and South American markets.  Malt and hops were moved from Central Europe to help the U.S. brewing industry start production after the lifting of Prohibition.  On March 14, 1932, the Company launched an extensive fleet modernization program involving the conversation of four Hog Island vessels into modern passenger ships ... another means of stimulating the U.S. economy.  Faith in the future never dimmed.  Offices were opened in Central Europe.  The Company‘s first trainees were hired.  The record shows that, during the depression years, the Company added new ships to its fleet and established new affiliates thus creating employment at a time when jobs were scarce.  Such initiative and confidence and the loyalty of an outstanding staff enabled the Company to contribute effectively to the strengthening of many sectors of the U.S. economy. 

A New Era –

While visiting Buenos Aires on a goodwill tour in 1936, President Roosevelt was impressed by the sight of so many foreign flag vessels and so few representing the United States.  On his return, he insisted on the immediate creation of top ranking American flag passenger-cargo service between North and South America.  An equally profound influence upon the Company‘s future occurred later in the same year with the passage of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.  It provided for a well-balanced American Merchant Marine to foster and develop the commerce of the United States.  The first new cargo vessel constructed under this act came to Moore-McCormack Lines and five more followed the next year.  The Company‘s three passenger vessels inaugurated the world famous Good Neighbor Fleet.  In September of 1938, the Company officially became Moore-McCormack Lines, Incorporated.


The first ship built under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936–the Donald McKay–

was sponsored by a descendant of the famous American shipbuilder.

With the acquisition of this cargo liner, Moore-McCormack became

an operator of American flag vessels exclusively.

Creating World Trade –

A new approach to creating world trade was originated by the Company with the establishment of the Trade Development Bureau.  Markets were found for American products in foreign lands and for foreign products in the United States.  South American wines and cheeses were introduced to the United States and entire plants for the manufacture of shoes, cement, and heavy equipment were shipped south.  The Trade Development Bureau has expanded its activities as the Company added new services and trade routes in industrialized areas.  It is also playing a constructive role by creating new business opportunities in lesser developed nations of the world.  In the highest sense, this original approach to the stimulation of world trade reflects the vital role American shipping plays in maintaining the strength of the nation‘s economy. 

World War II –

The entire accumulation of Company knowledge, experience, ships, equipment and other material resources were instantly placed at the service of the nation.  During the war, the Company was assigned responsibility for the operation of 707 different vessels ... 2,199 different voyages ... the movement of over 20,400,000 tons of vital war cargo to every theater of the war.  Ships in the Company‘s pre-war fleet became baby flat-tops, destroyer and submarine tenders, cargo attack ships, troop transports and performed many other war services.  Moore-McCormack Lines won the four-starred flag, the government‘s highest efficiency award.  This record is of symbolic importance as a reminder to every American of the vital role of the American Merchant Marine in time of need.

Creating World Travelers –

Down the years, the Company has cultivated a distinguished reputation for hospitality.  Early and renowned passengers like Enrico Caruso were followed by business, political and religious leaders ... by diplomats, professors and students ... by doctors, lawyers and scientists – prompting a rich cultural, commercial and social exchange between the United States and scores of foreign lands.  One year, a Cathedral at Sea was created to transport hundreds of the devout to a Eucharistic Congress at Rio de Janeiro.  Another year saw Americans exploring the jungle 1,000 miles from the mouth of the Amazon ... viewing the impressive majesty of the Land of the Midnight Sun beyond the Arctic Circle.  Unceasing emphasis on the highest standards of sea travel has encouraged thousands of Americans to become world travelers.

Enrico Caruso, an early passenger, captivated South Americans ... and helped popularize travel there.

Deep Inside America –

Almost without realizing it, scores of American cities and towns are affected by Mooremack operations.  Passenger and cargo fleet expansion, for example, calls for products from all fifty states and involves more than 500 different job classifications.  Construction of the passenger liners, Argentina and Brasil required purchases of 1,000,000 square feet of Micarta ... complex escalator systems ... giant diesel and electric power plants.  Daily operation provides continuing employment for many industries.  The provisioning of each of the passenger ships for a typical month-long cruise calls for the purchase of 66,000 lbs. of fresh meat, 10,000 lbs. of fresh fish, more than 100,000 lbs. of other foods.  Scores of other products are also purchased.  Every time a Company vessel discharges cargo at a foreign port, American ideas and technology take on new meaning in the eyes of America‘s friends abroad.  The products of American ingenuity and know-how can be found in homes, offices, factories, and laboratories on every continent.  Such foreign trade has an important and continuing impact deep inside America.  These are a few of the many different ways the Company contributes to the economic strength of the nation.

Architect of the Future –

First-hand experience in all areas of both domestic and overseas operations was acquired by William T. Moore.  It was soon after the post-war economy went into high gear that he took up leadership of the Company.  He injected fresh thinking into the continuing transition to new and effective management concepts.  Thus, new emphasis has been placed upon research and development ... modern computers maintain accurate controls and provide new measurements of the future ... improved communications and organization speed the flow of business and technical information throughout the Company ... expanded training programs maintain personnel resources at a high level ... thousands of miles of new routes have been added to the Company‘s operations ... fleet modernization continues to progress ... long range planning receives added attention ... effective marketing programs define and develop changing markets.  While drawing on the spirit of the past, William T. Moore continues to inject new thinking into many areas.


Reprinted from "A profile of maritime progress, 1913-1963"

Moore-McCormack Lines, Incorporated

2 Broadway

New York 4, N.Y.

(Booklet courtesy of Karin Cleary)



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