WINTER 1957-58

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

(Courtesy of Bob and Ken Bradsell)

 

A Veteran at the Helm

Reprinted from the Bergen, N. J., "Evening Record"

Bergenís Captain R. H. Day, With 26 Years At Sea, Can Recite Many An Adventure

By Fred Seifer

The ship was starting to crack.  From the number three hatch to the engine room, the deck of the Mormacmoon was splitting in two.  Seconds before, the sound of snapping boards had sent the sailors scurrying to the life boats.

"Slow 'er down and head into the wind," bellowed the captain from the bridge. "Weíre taking her into port."  But the captainís voice was lost in the rain and the roar of the waves washing against the ship.

Again the command was given ó this time louder and with a sharpness that penetrated the storm's fury.  For a moment the men hesitated; then, slowly, they stopped lowering the boats.

"Man your emergency stations," barked the first mate.  "You heard the captainís order.  Captian R. H. DayNow letís get going!"

In a flash the men were scrambling to their posts.  The navigator ordered a half rudder turn and the ship veered sharply into the wind.  Cracked deck and all, the Mormacmoon was fighting its way through the choppy seas.

Four days later, listing but still in one piece, the Mormacmoon entered New York Harbor.  At the helm was the man who had saved the ship and his crew, Captain R. H. Day of West Englewood.  For Captain Day, this was but one of many exciting adventures in 26 years at sea. Perhaps his most memorable experience was as a gunnerís mate 3/c in a Malta convoy during World War II.  It was during this voyage that he was under fire for the first time in his life.

Voyage to Malta

"We were heading towards Malta carrying strategic war materials," recalls Captain Day, "and I was aboard one of the four merchant ships in the convoy which was protected by 20 British destroyers and eight cruisers.

"When we reached Mohammed Gulf in the Red Sea, we hid for 10 days to avoid detection by German aircraft.  A few days later, however, we experienced our first air attack.  "I had always thought of myself as courageous as the next guy, but when those German planes came at us, my knees just started to buckle.  I opened fire with my 30 cal. machine gun, but I didnít hit a thing ó the planes were about 10,000 feet out of range.

"When I got back to my bunk after the battle, I found my glasses had been painted with crosshairs.  It was then that I became known aboard ship as Sharpshooter Day."

Sharpshooter Day never fired his machine gun again, but he saw plenty of action. For 40 straight hours the Germans pounded the convoy.

"How we got through I'll never know," says Captain Day.  "They threw everything at us, but we escaped without the loss of a single merchant ship.  We were the first and the last Malta convoy to be that lucky.

"Soon afterwards we got our first glimpse of Valletta, the capital of Malta.  There was nothing left to see, just charred buildings and ashes.  It was the heaviest bombed city of the war.

"They were short of everything on Malta except ingenuity.  One day I was invited by a Danish friend of mine to have dinner at his home.  When I arrived, he offered me a glass of beer.  I asked him how he managed to make the beer when there were no ingredients on the island and he replied that he simply squeezed cabbage leaves."

Up the Amazon

After the war, Captain Day was chosen to navigate the longest and most treacherous body of water in the world, the Amazon River ó 986 miles of jungle and swamp.

"There are places in the Amazon where it is so narrow that you can't even turn around," says Captain Day, "and where one mistake could be your last one.  This is true especially in the Straits of Breves where the width of the river narrows down to about 100 yards."

Along the coast of the Amazon live some of the deadliest animals in the world. Perhaps the most ferocious are the piranha fish.  "Not more than a foot long, but with teeth like razors, they have been known to attack with such force and ferocity as to completely devour a live cow within seconds after it has hit the water," the Captain reports.

"Once I saw an American sailor slip off a floating dock and fall into piranha infested waters.  He never came up again.  The natives say he was slashed to bits by the killer fish," the Captain adds.

He will never forget the primitive tribes along the coast.  "These people were completely cut off from civilization," he says.  "For them the modern world simply did not exist.  They lived the way their ancestors had hundreds and perhaps thousands of years before.  Fortunately for us they were not head hunters."

In striking contrast to the primitive societies was the city of Manaus, the terminal point of the Amazon River.  Here 165,000 Brasilians carved out of the wilderness a modern city with one of the finest opera houses to be found anywhere in the world.

In all his years at sea, Captain Day has been involved in only one collision.  This occurred at Hampton Roads, Va., when the ship he was piloting smacked into a Navy transport in a heavy fog.  Fortunately, the damage to both vessels was slight.

Seadog or Landlubber

Captain Day is presently employed by a New York steamship line as a stevedore superintendent.  When asked whether he prefers life ashore to the sea, he says with a smile, "At times there are days when I wish I were back at sea, but I also remember days at sea when I wished I were back on land."

His has been a life full of adventure.  He didnít look for it, but it found him just the same.  He has given to the sea a part of himself and in return she has given him the experiences only the sea can give and only a sailor can understand.

       

Brazil Replaced

 The Federal Maritime Board approved the withdrawal of Brazil from service December 9, and the charter by our company of Excambion of the American Export Lines to meet Moore-McCormack's mid-December schedule.

Brazil, whose charter has been terminated, was turned back to the Board upon completion of its last voyage.  Officials of Moore-McCormack Lines pointed out that new maintenance work and obligations which would he called for to enter into charter of the vessel from the Government would not he economically feasible, particularly with the advent into service of new Brasil, to be launched in December.

American Export Lines agreed to the charter of Excambion, one of its "Four Aces" in the Mediterranean service, for a round-trip voyage to South America under the Moore-McCormack flag.  ExcambionThe offer was made possible, American Export Lines said, because of current light demand for passenger space to the Near East and because American Export has three other identical vessels serving this route.

American Export Lines' passengers originally booked for Excambion's next voyage were offered space on other "Aces" which sail from Hoboken every other Friday or on the Companyís express luxury liners Independence and Constitution, which also serve the Mediterranean.

The withdrawal of Brazil terminates this shipís colorful career.  Mr. William T. Moore said:

"She is a gallant and lucky ship.  We began to operate her in 1938 under long- term charter and we have operated her ever since with the exception of the war years.  In the war her record was one of the proudest in the U. S. Merchant Marine.  She transported thousands of troops, participated in the invasion of North Africa, and carried supplies and munitions into remote fighting areas.

"In peacetime she has served nobly in helping to cement the close industrial, commercial, and cultural ties that now exist between our country and the Good Neighbor countries below the Equator:  Brasil, Argentina and Uruguay."

        

 

Seamanís Orphans Have Nautical Christmas Party

 Mrs. Emmet J. McCormack, wife of the chairman of the board of Moore-McCormack Lines which on Dec. 16 launched the luxurious South American cruise ship Brasil, presented scale models of the new liner to seamenís children under the care of the Society for Seamenís Children.  The pre-Christmas party was held Dec. 10th in the Societyís quarters on Staten Island.Mrs. McCormack and Friends

Mr. McCormack has been a member of the Board of Counselors of the Society for nearly 25 years and, according to Mrs. McCormack, his interest in the children under care of the Society goes hack even longer.

"Therefore, we wanted the first of the Brasil models to go to these children," commented Mrs. McCormack, who is widely known in Brooklyn and in shipping circles as "Aunt Bess."

        

 

 

 

 

 

     

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