Stories contained herein were published by and for Mooremack Employees Ashore and Afloat.

(Courtesy of John-Paul DeRosa)


Men and Fish

If it develops at any time in the future that Mooremack shipmasters are also ichthyologists, no one need feel put out.  Actually, some already are ichthyologists and more may join the ranks.  All of which is the result of a letter recently received by B. G. Furey, Chief of Operations, from a Philadelphia man who explained that he is carrying on research into the migration of whales and asked that if any Mooremack masters see a whale or whales he would appreciate having such information as their number, color, approximate length and beam, their direction while moving, and the estimated speed of their movements.  Mr. Furey passed along the request to all masters of the fleet.  A few weeks later the first report came in.

In all his 40 years of sea-going, including 30 as a master, Captain Jesse R. Hodges had never hit a whale.  He had seen them, for he had taken ships to all the seas of the world, and he had heard of other masters who had hit whales.

And then he hit a whale.  The Captain told about it in early March 1955 when he brought his ship, the S.S. Brazil, into New York.

It happened about 150 miles east of Bahia, Brasil, when the ship was heading north.  About two in the afternoon, two whales were sighted suddenly ahead of the ship.  They were motionless at the time and apparently made a move to get clear of the oncoming ship.  But one was not fast enough.

 "It sounded as if someone had dropped a couple of tons of material right in the middle of the ship," said the Captain.



New Passenger Ships

Indications were that the two new passenger ships which Mooremack built for the South American service would be completed and ready for service before the end of 1957.  In a letter to the company stockholders by Emmet J. McCormack, Chairman of the Board, and William T. Moore, President of Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc., in late March, the situation was described as follows:

"Passenger travel on the two Good Neighbor vessels has continued at a very good level—in fact, showing higher revenues per voyage than in 1953 when three passenger vessels were in service for the larger part of the year.  This result was accomplished in spite of the substantial decline in the Brasilian exchange which had the effect of increasing the fare cost to Brasilian residents and of reducing the converted dollar proceeds to the Company of passages sold in Brasil.  Passenger volume for 1955 gives promise of being higher than 1954.

"We have been much encouraged by the progress made during the past 12 months toward actual construction of the two new passenger vessels.  As had been hoped, the last Congress appropriated funds expressly allocated to pay the construction subsidy on these two ships with the expectation that the Company is to finance its cost of the ships through private financing rather than government financing as formerly.  The final plans and specifications for the ships have now been filed with the Federal Maritime Board and it is expected that the formal invitation to bid will go out to the American shipyards within two weeks.  This should make possible the negotiation and signing of both construction and operating subsidy contracts around mid-year and the delivery of the completed ships before the end of 1957."

The place of foreign travel in the post-war scheme of things has been clarified, say Messrs. McCormack and Moore, and they continue:

"In spite of—and undoubtedly partly because of—the tremendous growth in overseas air services and travel, the public has unmistakably indicated that it wants and will continue to enjoy the special values of sea travel.  This is a foundation on which new passenger vessels for long-term utilization on established services can be built and operated provided indicated costs of construction and operation as adjusted to parity under the Merchant Marine Act do not prove excessive."



The Meredith Victory

Under the intriguing caption, "Captain, Can You Take 14,000 Extra Passengers?", the famous Babcock & Wilcox Company boiler division, published an advertisement recently that stirred all Mooremackites.  The copy, which recalls one of the truly bright pages in the history of our merchant marine, reads as follows:

"This question was asked of Leonard P. LaRue, Master of the Moore-McCormack Lines' Meredith Victory in Hungnam, Korea on December 22, 1950.  For days, thousands of Korean civilians had fled before the Communist hordes to Hungnam and hope.  Here, unless a miracle happened, they were destined to be captured and executed when the enemy entered the city—and the enemy was fast approaching.

"The miracle appeared in the form of the Meredith Victory, 7,607 tons, 46 man crew and accommodations for 12 passengers!  When this World War II vessel left Hungnam for Pusan she was literally crammed with more than 14,000 men, women and children.  When she arrived in Pusan she had 5 new passengers, born during the 3-day voyage.

"No other cargo ship in history ever carried anything remotely approaching this number of passengers.  And this happened only because the Meredith Victory was there when she was needed.  The need for merchant ships, unique and common, is indelible in America's history.  Wherever America does business, wherever American interests lie, the Merchant Marine must be there in modern force.

"And the only way for this to happen is to build for it and train those who must operate it.  Otherwise, the Merchant Marine will appear only in spirit—and that could turn out to be a ghost story."

Be sure you visit the page on this site regarding Captain LaRue and his ship, the Meredith Victory.  Also read about the documentary being made about this miraculous story.






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