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

(Courtesy of Bob and Ken Bradsell)


35 Years A Master

The arrival of the S.S. Argentina in the port of New York the morning of May 2nd had a double meaning for her master, Captain Thomas M. Simmons.  First, he was about to start a six-week vacation ashore; and second, it marked an anniversary, the completion of thirty-five years as a shipmaster.

Captain Thomas M. Simmons

In his quarters after the ship had docked Captain Simmons fondled his master’s certificate, and commented that its current five-year period of effectiveness was ended, that very day.  Someone asked about the day thirty-five years earlier, when he had first qualified.

"Yes, I remember it very well," he said. "I had passed my examination in the Custom House about ten in the morning and went down two flights and placed my name on the list as available for a ship.  And about two that same afternoon I got my ship and sailed the next day."

The new captain’s first ship was the Hegira, which was to sail from Galveston to Germany.  The captain boarded the train for Galveston that same day and was on his way to his command.

Captain Simmons spent sixteen years with the Munson Line before coming to Moore-McCormack.  He joined Munson in 1922 as third officer of the Munargo, became chief officer, then commanded several of the Munson ships, including the Pan America, Munargo, Western World, American Legion and Southern Cross.

Captain Simmons came to Moore-McCormack in 1938 when the Good Neighbor Fleet was organized to operate between New York and the east coast of South America.  He was given command of the Argentina, one of a trio of extremely able shipmasters — with Captain Sadler of the Brazil and Captain Oakley of the Uruguay — and he has commanded his ship ever since, including the years of the war.Captain R. H. Bradsell

During Captain Simmons’ shore leave the Argentina is commanded by Captain R. H. Bradsell.  He is no stranger to the Argentina, having acted as her master on her November 1952 sailing when Captain Simmons was ashore,



The Cruise Clothes Problem

Miss Eleanor Britton, chief of Mooremack cruise directors, was guest of Virginia Graham on a televised fashion show and travel discussion, over New York’s station WABD-TV, in late April.

As the lovely models walked before the cameras displaying the newest in cruise clothes Miss Britton discussed their special values on voyages such as the Good Neighbor liners make to South America.

Coincidentally, she set her audience’s feet atwitch as she described features of shipboard life and the beauties of the South American ports of call.  And on that most vital question of cruise planning — clothing — she hurled a challenge at the experts.

"What do you think about this business of taking too much with you on a cruise?" asked Miss Graham.

Mrs. Seabury S. Gould "I don’t agree," replied Miss Britton. "I think you should travel heavy.  I know everybody says not to.  But when you’re going on a cruise it doesn’t matter how much you bring, and it’s so nice to have everything you want with you.  You know, you get out about two weeks and you just wish you had a certain frock that you left home in the closet."

Miss Britton should know.  As she spoke she had just returned from the annual cruise to Rio Carnaval and was preparing to sail July 7th on the Eucharistic Congress cruise, her 36th and 37th to South America with Mooremack.



Mr. Huston On Television

 Henry A. Huston, 97-year-old teacher-musician-traveler, whose penchant for Mooremack cruises to South America was described in our Spring issue, was honor guest on the nation-wide television program, "Life Begins At Eighty," the night of June 5th.

The same enthusiasm for life and sparkling wit that seem to belie the birth records, shone through again, as it has during the seven cruises he has made with us in the last three years.

He played his flute, he gave better than he received during his pleasant exchanges with Jack Barry, the m.c., and as usual he was a Mooremack salesman.  (Mr. Huston is a stockholder as well as a patron of this company’s facilities.)

"How are you planning to spend your 100th birthday?" asked Mr. Barry.

"Well, we’re planning to build two new passenger ships at Moore-McCormack, and I’m hoping to spend it aboard one of them," he replied.

Eleanor Britton, chief of entertainment for the company, lined up the Huston appearance and was in the audience during the half hour.



Pilgrimage to Rio

One of the richest of religious ceremonies, the 36th International Eucharistic Congress, will be held in Brasil’s capital city, Rio de Janeiro, from July 17-24th, and both of Moore-McCormack’s passenger liners, the S.S. Argentina and the S.S. Brazil, will play an important role in transporting pilgrims to the scene.

Actually, the first of these, the Argentina, has already sailed for the Congress, and the Brazil is scheduled to sail Thursday, July 7th, with some 320 pilgrims headed by His Eminence Francis Cardinal Spellman, of New York. This pilgrimage is sponsored by Moore-McCormack and the Catholic Travel League.

Rio is lined by a series of magnificent crescent beaches.

Aboard the Argentina when she sailed were three delegations Congress-bound, including pilgrims from Seattle, Boston, and Chicago.

Estimates in Rio are that about 1,000,000 persons will gather there for the exercises, and of these some 200,000 will be from countries other than Brasil. Actually, every nation in the world outside the Iron Curtain plans to be represented.  Twenty-two Cardinals of the Church are expected to attend.

Rio has literally moved a mountain in preparing for this affair.  The Morro, or hill, of Santo Antonio, in mid-city has been leveled and the earth dumped into the bay close by Santos Dumont airport, creating a site about half a mile square for the celebration of outdoor mass.  A giant altar and 200 additional altars have been erected here.

On May 28th, the public "procession of wheat and grape" was held in Rio, this being the final pre-Congress ceremony, marking the transfer of the ingredients of the bread and wine to be used in the celebration of Holy Mass.

The major pilgrimage, aboard the Brazil, on arrival southbound at the old city of Bahia, Brasil, will attend Holy Mass in the local Cathedral.  After the Rio exercises the ship will proceed to Santos, Brasil; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Northbound, they will again call at Santos and Rio de Janeiro, and also at Trinidad, in the West Indies, arriving in New York Aug. 16th.

The S.S. Brazil will undergo many changes to suit the needs of her pilgrim-passengers.  The library will be fitted out as a permanent chapel and more than a dozen altars will be taken aboard at which clergy may celebrate the Mass.

Few cities of the world can serve as a more fitting background for this solemn and beautiful exercise; the world-famous statue of the Christus Redemptor, standing atop the Corcovado, tallest of the city’s 365 mountains, dominates the scene for many miles around.



"Seaman of the Year"

Mooremack shared a distinctive honor with a member of its seagoing personnel during the nation-wide observance of World Trade Week in mid-May when 32-year-old Jarrett H. Ah Chin, boatswain of the Mormacrio, by a panel of citizens, was selected as Seaman of the Year among all the men of the American Merchant Marine.

This was the first time the honor had ever been conferred.  The competition, sponsored by the United Seamen’s Service, was conducted through the cooperation of crews of American flag ships who nominated the contestants from their ranks.  From the nominees, whose records were submitted in detail, seven finalists were selected and from this group the Mooremack bos'n emerged as first choice.

United States Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, traveled from the nation’s capital to present the plaque at ceremonies at Pier A, headquarters of New York’s Department of Marine and Aviation.  The winner’s story as told in the nomination was as follows:

Admiral Cochrane addresses audience at "Seaman of the Year" award ceremonies at Battery Park.

"For services rendered for his fellow man, beyond and above his duty, we would like to recommend Jarrett H. Ah Chin, Bos'n on board the S.S. Mormacrio, Moore-McCormack Lines C-3. Serving through the 2nd World War, with 15 years in the maritime industry, this man has a fine sea record.  Never being logged nor fired while on ships.

"In October 1952, this man dove into the choppy waters of Yokohama Bay, to rescue another seaman, Malcom Black, who fell over the side.  Although Black died from the result of falling into the water, he was saved from a watery grave. Records of this incident may be obtained from CID Headquarters in Yokohama, or Orion SS Company Personnel Department.

"In July 1953, while in Sasebo Harbor, Ah Chin was swimming in the bay, his friend got a stroke of cramps, and was unable to swim, Ah Chin rescued Bobby Thor, of Kailua, Hawaii, by bringing him alongside where a life ring could help Tator. This perhaps is in the ship’s log of the S.S. Sealife.

"On the morning of April 5, 1955, while in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the S.S. Mormacrio was loading cargo.  A sling of cargo struck an employee of Moore-McCormack, throwing him over the side into the water, between the ship and the dock.  The employee, Dimas Garcia, was rescued by the quick action of the Bos'n of the Mormacrio.  The bos'n without hesitation, dived in the water and pulled Garcia out.  This incident can be checked with the Master of the Mormacrio, or in every Argentina newspaper of April 7th or 6th.

"During the Korean war, this same man went ashore during his off times and in his small way, entertained the troops in Sak Cho Ri Hang, 13 miles from the front.  Only the G-Is who were on duty there can establish this fact, and of course, the ship’s crew of the S.S. Sealife.  He has, while on the beach, volunteered to sing at Churches, Veterans’ Hospitals, and various other establishments.

"His character is good, and he is a good sailor.

                                     (Crew of S.S.Mormacrio)

"P.S. Mr. Ah Chin is a Hawaiian, which will account for his swimming feats."  The affair catapulted the bos'n and fellow seamen who had won second and third places in the voting, into a sudden outburst of publicity.  Movie and television cameras ground out the record of the presentation and newspapermen’s cameras clicked incessantly as he accepted the award before a mid-day audience in Battery Park.  The thick-built sailor, Hawaiian born with Chinese forebears, has served Moore-McCormack in both the South American and Scantic services.  He fought out of San Pedro, California, as an amateur middleweight and has considerable talent on the ukulele.  When Senator Magnuson called him to accept the bronze plaque and a gold medal, the sailor smiled appreciatively and responded with his Hawaiian version of "Thank you very much."

Vice Admiral Edward T. Cochrane USN (Retired) who is a director of Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc., as well as President of the United Seamen’s Service and Vice President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presided at the presentation exercises.  Emmet J. McCormack, chairman of the board of the Company, occupied a place on the dais and was introduced to the audience. Others present included G. Joseph Minetti, member, Federal Maritime Board:

Boatswain Ah Chin flanked by Emmet J. McCormack and Admiral Cochrane.

Commissioner Vincent A. G. O’Connor of New York’s Department of Marine and Aviation; Eugene F. Moran, Commissioner of the Port of New York Authority; Admiral Gordon McLintock, superintendent, U. S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N. Y.; Francis T. Greene, President of the American Merchant Marine Institute, and many others.

Hon. Mark A. McCloskey of the New York State Youth Commission headed the Awards Committee and his fellow members represented both management and labor.



The New Ships

Artist's conception of proposed new passenger ships to be built for Mooremack's South American service.

Plans for two new passenger-cargo ships to be built by Moore-McCormack Lines for the service between New York and the east coast of South America were approved by the Federal Maritime Board and the company and sent out to shipyards in late April with an invitation to bid for construction contracts.  Bids will be opened in Washington on July 12th.

Coincident with this announcement the company made public a painting of the ships (above) which shows them as they will appear when completed. The painting is the work of Charles Lundgren, artist, of New Milford, Connecticut.  While the traditional red M on the stack, against the background of a white circle, identifies them as Mooremack ships to all acquainted with shipping history of the last 40 years, the vessels otherwise are new in almost every detail as units of this company’s fleet.

They are the largest vessels ever proposed for ownership by the company, and their scheduled entry into service will mark a new era in Mooremack history which traces back to the Summer of 1913.  They will replace the S.S. Argentina and S.S. Brazil which are the property of the federal government and which Mooremack has operated in the east coast South American service since the formation of the Good Neighbor Fleet in the Fall of 1938.

Commodore Robert C. Lee, vice chairman of the board, handed a statement to a dozen representatives of the metropolitan and trade press at a meeting at the Downtown Athletic Club, announcing the agreement of the Maritime Board and the company and the fact that the plans had gone out to the yards.

He then submitted to an interview in which questions ranged all the way from speculation on details of the construction contract to the attitude of the company toward atomic propulsion of merchant ships.  Commodore Lee told the newspapermen that the company had given serious consideration to the use of atomic propulsion but had abandoned any idea of using it because of the high cost of equipment.  He expressed the belief that such propulsion in merchant ships was at least fifteen years away.

This detail attracted considerable attention in the press because President Eisenhower only 24 hours earlier had announced plans for an atom-propelled merchant ship which would be used to cruise to world ports as evidence of this nation’s hope for the development of atomic power as a peaceable factor in world affairs.Comm. Lee discusses new ships with George Horne and Ed Tastrum of N.Y. Times and Journal of commerce.

"We talked to a number of people whom we consider experts in the field of atomic power," said Commodore Lee, "and we tried to learn everything that would help us.  It was our conclusion that this was not the time for it, for a commercial enterprise like ours.  As a government matter it is something else again."

The new ships will be twin screw turbine-propelled steamships with raked stem and cruiser stern, of steel construction, welded in most areas but with some riveting of shell and deck seams.  They will measure 617 feet 10 inches overall, 570 feet between perpendiculars, 84 feet moulded beam and 88 feet moulded at the Promenade deck, with maximum horsepower of 28,000.  The ships will be 18,200 gross and 22,700 displacement tons and will be built to make a sea speed of 21 knots.

Several details of the ships reflect current trends in travel and trade and they reflect also the pattern of future developments in both the United States and South America.  For example, they will be built to turn around in the service in 35 days instead of the present 42 days consumed by the Argentina and the Brazil.

Albert J. Keenan, Jr., general passenger traffic manager, who with Fred Heess, Henry Klingler and James F. Roche of the Mooremack staff sat in on the press conference, said this feature should be of tremendous value in the development of passenger traffic.  The greatest sales obstacle today, Mr. Keenan said, is the length of time required for the voyage.  This is a much more important difficulty than that of cost.

"The reduced time," he said, "will open up an entirely new field for passenger traffic."

Another feature that caused considerable discussion is the provision of space to carry about eighty automobiles in each ship.  Commodore Lee pointed out that the South American nations, notably Brasil, had taken great strides since the war in developing their highways and that as a result there should be more and more inland travel which has not been practicable heretofore.

"I think that motor travel in areas of Latin America will become as attractive as it is here in the United States and Europe," he said.  "We have seen the growth in the practice of travelers taking their cars to Europe and I am confident that more and more passengers will be leaving the ship with their cars when they reach northern Brasil, tour south and rejoin the ship in Rio de Janeiro or Buenos Aires for the return voyage.  It is a field that must grow, we feel certain."

The fact that the new ships will be all first class instead of first and cabin, as is the case with the Argentina and Brazil, is an interesting development.  Commodore Lee pointed out that since the start of the service in 1938 Mooremack had developed it on a cruise basis, although a major share of passengers travel for business reasons.  Each ship carries an orchestra, cruise director and staff, four or five acts of entertainment, dance and language instructors and a full program of entertainment on a par with the best of the strictly cruise ships.

"We have added the cruise features to the business trip," he said, "and have built up a vast clientele of passengers who like the idea.  We plan to continue this type of service but we realize that since the 1920’s cruise ships have been one class. We think that especially with the reduction of the voyage time and also with the addition of the many modern features to these ships they will be, even more than before, cruise ships, and for that reason we think ships first class throughout are the most practicable for the service."

Each ship will have a capacity of 553 passengers. Each will have two swimming pools, one for the grown-ups and one for the younger group.  This planning is the product of experience in the operation of the present Good Neighbor liners. Because of the climate in which most of the voyage time is spent, shipboard life centers about the after deck where the swimming pools of both first and cabin classes of the present ships are located.

The pools are so popular that special hours for the different age groups have been required, an arrangement not always considered satisfactory.   The diversion of the youngsters to their own special pool is expected to make for more efficient operation.

Extensive studies were conducted in arriving at the layout of facilities in the new vessels to provide the maximum of comfort for passengers and crew and efficiency of operation.  Most of the passenger facilities, apart from staterooms, will be located on the Promenade deck, including the Lounge, Language Rooms, Library, Writing Room, Gift Shop, Social Center with dance floor and bar, Deck Cafe, Swimming Pool for the grown-ups and the sports area and promenade, as well as facilities for serving buffet luncheons and breakfast.

Staterooms will be located on Boat deck and also A and B decks.  On each of the decks on which passenger quarters Comm. Lee discusses new ships with George Home and Ed Tastrum of N. Y.

Times and Journal of Commerce are located, special facilities will be provided to permit the serving of breakfast in all staterooms, thus eliminating the need of dining room service before lunch.  A theatre will be located on C deck, the dining room on B deck and the junior recreation area and swimming pool and children’s playroom on A deck.  The main galley will be located on C deck, and the crew galley will be directly below this, on D deck.  The hospital also will be on D deck. Fred Heess considers the "headache" of paper work entailed by planning for new passenger ships. A special mess room will be provided for officers, female members of the crew, and the concessionaires.  Except for accommodations for certain officers the crew will be quartered on C and D decks where their lounge and mess facilities will also be located.

All passenger and crew staterooms and public rooms will be served by a two- channel public address system to handle radio recordings and microphone broadcasts, and each stateroom will be equipped with telephone.  The ships will have ship-to-shore telephone facilities.  Each ship will have a bale cargo space of 356,316 cubic feet, which includes 20,980 cubic feet of refrigerated space suitable for minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.  Machinery in the ship will be located well aft to keep the public rooms on Promenade deck free from trunks and other obstructions.  Each ship will have four major suites and ten deluxe staterooms.  All staterooms will have outside exposure.

Many features of the new ships should attract the attention of those interested in modern shipbuilding techniques.  For example, by the use of pre-finished materials throughout, the use of paint is largely eliminated, which fact is expected to aid greatly in maintenance of the ships in the finest condition with the minimum difficulty.  Also, an observation bridge will be erected on the dummy smoke stack, while the actual stacks are located way aft to afford maximum free interior passenger areaways and reductions of the risk of smoke and combustion gases nuisance.  The feature of the observation bridge is novel in ship construction and is expected to add an exciting feature for passengers.

The stabilization facilities of the ships also are expected to prove novel and attractive.  The choice of exact type of these has not yet been made, but Commodore Lee said they will be of the fin-type, similar to those recently installed in the liner Queen Elizabeth with reportedly excellent results.  The ships will be fully air conditioned throughout, and each stateroom will have its individual thermostat control, providing maximum personal control of room temperatures.

Plans for the ships were drafted by the Bethlehem Steel Company’s shipbuilding department, at Quincy, Mass., and Raymond Loewy Associates, of 488 Madison Avenue, are serving as designer of interiors and consultant on exterior design.

The ships will be built with the aid of government subsidy as provided by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 and are expected to cost between $28,000,000 and $30,000,000 each.

Commodore Lee said he expected the new ships to be ready to enter service before the end of 1957.  The company, he said, is prepared to award contracts single for individual ships or both to a single yard, depending upon the bids.




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