Quotes about American Merchant Marine by Presidents, Military Leaders, National Figures, and others

Quotes about American Merchant Marine by Presidents
Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, James K. Polk, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft, Warren G. Harding, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Jimmy Carter

Quotes about American Merchant Marine by Military Leaders
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Jonathan Wainwright, George C. Marshall, Chester W. Nimitz, Ernest J. King, Alexander A. Vandegrift, T. C. Kinkaid, Sir Bernard Montgomery, Edward Macauley, Harold R. Stark, Howard L. Vickery, Paul W. Tibbets, Colin Powell, John M. Shalikashvili, Henry H. Shelton, Georgi K. Zhukov, B. H. Ramsay, Royal E. Ingersoll, John J. Pershing Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan

Quotes about American Merchant Marine by World and National Leaders
Winston S. Churchill, Rufus King, James G. Blaine, Nelson Dingley, Thomas Benton, Elihu Root, Wesley L. Jones, Herbert Hoover, Lewis B. Hershey, Ellis Arnall, Cordell Hull, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fisher Ames, Emery S. Land

Quotes about American Merchant Marine from Newspapers
New York Times

Quotes about American Merchant Marine by Famous People
Bob Hope, Carole Landis, Ernie Pyle

Proclamations, Resolutions, and Statements on National Maritime Day by Presidents, Governors, and National leaders


President Franklin D. Roosevelt President Franklin D. Roosevelt - one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's last public statements on the U.S. Merchant Marine on September 19, 1944
It seems to me particularly appropriate that Victory Fleet Day this year should honor the men and management of the American Merchant Marine. The operators in this war have written one of its most brilliant chapters. They have delivered the goods when and where needed in every theater of operations and across every ocean in the biggest, the most difficult and dangerous transportation job ever undertaken. As time goes on, there will be greater public understanding of our merchant fleet's record during this war.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, during signing of GI Bill on June 22, 1944
I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Today in the face of this newest and greatest challenge of them all, we of the United Nations have cleared our decks and taken on battle stations. It is the will of the people that America shall deliver the goods. It can never be doubted that the goods will be delivered by this nation, which believes in the tradition of DAMN THE TORPEDOES; FULL SPEED AHEAD!

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1943
The men of our American Merchant Marine have pushed through despite the perils of the submarine, the dive bomber and the surface raider. They have returned voluntarily to their jobs at sea again and again, because they realized that the life-lines to our battle fronts would be broken if they did not carry out their vital part in this global war. . . In their hands, our vital supply lines are expanding. Their skill and determination will keep open the highway to victory and unconditional surrender.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (letter to Winston Churchill) March 18, 1942
"My Navy has been definitely slack in preparing for this submarine war off our coast. As I need not tell you, most naval officers have declined in the past to think in terms of any vessel of less than two thousand tons. You learned the lesson two years ago. We still have to learn it."

[Roosevelt was expressing here the acute need for escort vessels. But the number of merchant marine ships still available had become much too small for a successful continuation of the war. And crews for them were being rapidly exhausted, incapacitated or killed. There was as yet no effective system of replacement for either ships or men. This was the tremendous problem of the Battle of the Atlantic.]
From The Long Haul: The United States Merchant Service in World War II, Robert Carse, W. W. Norton, New York, 1965.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 12, 1942
It is with a feeling of great pride that I send my heartiest congratulations and best wishes to the officers and men of the new U. S. Maritime Service Training Station at Sheepshead Bay. New York. Ten thousand apprentice seamen in training at one station is a magnificent achievement, and the entire country joins me in wishing you every success and in paying tribute to you men of the Merchant Marine who are so gallantly working and fighting side by side with our Army and Navy to defend the way of life which is so dear to us all.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, letter to Admiral Emory S. Land on May 22, 1941. Read on Maritime Day, May 22, 1941, aboard U.S. Maritime Service Training Ship American Seaman, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

I am glad of an opportunity to send a Maritime Day Message to the American people. Today, as never before in our history, our Merchant Marine is vital to our national welfare. I do not mean vital merely in the conventional sense that it makes an important contribution but in the stronger sense that it is a crucially decisive factor in our continued existence as a free people.

If we are going to keep away from our shores the forces that have convulsed the Old World and now menace the New, the job will be done in large measure by the ships and the sailors of the Merchant Marine and by the working men who build the ships and supply them. If they fail, the whole effort fails. And earnest, hardworking Americans, who spend the best part of their lives providing for the security and happiness of those they love, know that precious security and happiness depend exactly on the success of that effort.

I know the effort will not fail; that more and faster ships will be built, manned by trained American seamen, and that they will carry through the open waters of the Seven Seas implements that will help destroy the menace to free peoples everywhere.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Columbus Day 1942, Fireside Speech
In expanding our shipping, we have had to enlist many thousands of men for our merchant marine. These men are serving magnificently. They are risking their lives every hour so that guns and tanks and planes and ammunitions and food may be carried to the heroic defenders of Stalingrad and to all the United Nations' forces all over the world.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Maritime Day Proclamation 1942
WHEREAS it is fitting that; public recognition be given to the patriotism and courage of the officers and men of the cargo ships in the Victory Fleet...

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Maritime Day Speech May 22, 1942
... We of the United Nations are engaged in a war for the preservation of our liberties against the powers of aggression; and ... it is fitting that public recognition be given to the patriotism and courage of the officers and men of the cargo ships in the Victory Fleet...

President Roosevelt, May, 1942
The war is now five months old and we have had our answer. Two million men have been called to the colors. In far places and near, our soldiers, our sailors, our air pilots, the beleaguered men of the Merchant Marine, have shown the stuff of heroes. Everything we have asked of them they have delivered. Everything -- and more.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Maritime Day Proclamation 1943
WHEREAS the support of our overseas forces and the rendering of aid to our allies depend upon the steady movement of cargo along the ocean tracks -- a movement now maintained by the courageous seamen of our merchant marine in resolute defiance of the enemy above, beneath and on the surface of the seas

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, September 30, 1943
[At the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's campus dedication]
The Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis serves the Navy.

President Roosevelt, July, 1943
[The President reported to the nation on his recommendations for veterans’ benefits. In the course of that speech, he repeatedly included the Merchant Marine in urging the enactment of such benefits as mustering-out pay, hospitalization, rehabilitation and medical care.]

The least to which they are entitled, it seems to me, is something like this:… mustering-out pay to every member of the armed forces and merchant marine when he or she is honorably discharged; mustering-out pay large enough in each case to cover a reasonable period of time between his discharge and the finding of a new job.... in case no job is found after diligent search, then unemployment insurance if the individual registers with the United States Employment Service.... improved and liberalized provisions for hospitalization, for rehabilitation, for medical care of disabled members of the armed forces and the merchant marine.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Maritime Day Proclamation 1944
WHEREAS many men have already given their lives, and thousands of others are daily risking their lives, on our ships traversing dangerous seas to carry men and materials to the far-flung battlefields; and
WHEREAS it is fitting that the patriotism, courage, sacrifice...be publicly recognized:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The great expenditure of manpower and materials during the past three years in building a large number of vessels as an auxiliary to our Navy and to carry the needed supplies for the United Nations' war effort should, I believe, have made clear to all Americans the necessity of maintaining an adequate merchant marine for this purpose.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
, September 27, 1941 at launching of Liberty Ship Patrick Henry
I emphasize to all of you the simple historic fact that throughout the period of our American life, going way back into colonial days, commerce on the high seas and freedom of the seas has been the major reason for our own prosperity and for the building up of our country.... We Americans as a whole cannot listen to those few Americans who preach the gospel of fear --- who say in effect that they are still in favor of freedom of the seas but who would have the United States tie up our vessels in our ports. For that attitude is neither truthful nor honest. We propose that these ships sail the seas as they are intended to. We propose to the best of our ability to protect them from torpedo, from shell, or from bomb.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Message to Congress March 4, 1935
I present to the Congress the question of whether or not the United States should have an adequate merchant marine.

To me there are three reasons for answering this question in the affirmative. The first is that in time of peace, subsidies granted by other nations, shipping combines, and other restrictive or rebating methods may well be used to the detriment of American shippers....

Second, in the event of a major war in which the United States is not involved, our commerce, in the absence of an adequate merchant marine, might find itself crippled because of its inability to secure bottoms....

Third, in the event of a war in which the United States itself might be engaged, American-flag ships are obviously needed not only for naval auxiliaries, but also for the maintenance of reasonable and necessary commercial intercourse with other nations. We should remember the lessons learned in the last war....

An American Merchant Marine is one of our most firmly established traditions. It was, during the first half of our national existence, a great and growing asset. Since then it has declined in value and importance. The time has come to square this traditional ideal with effective performance.

Free competition among the nations in the building of modern shipping facilities is a manifestation of a wholly desirable and wholesome national ambition. In such free competition the American people want us to be properly represented. The American people want us to use American ships. Their government owes it to them to make certain that such ships are in keeping with our national pride and national needs.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
". . . without their skill and devotion to duty our men and materiel could not have been delivered. . . "

President George Washington, Second Annual Address to Congress December 8, 1790
We should not overlook the tendency of war to abridge the means, and thereby at least enhance the price, of transporting productions to their proper markets. I recommend it to your serious reflections how far and in what mode, it may be expedient to guard against embarrassments from these contingencies, by such encouragement to our own navigation as will render our commerce and agriculture less dependent on foreign bottoms which may fail us in the very moments most interesting to both these great objects.

President George Washington, Farewell Address
There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion which experience must cure.

President John Adams, Memoirs
No group of individuals did more for establishing our country than the American Merchant Seamen and Privateers. Their record speaks eloquently of their devotion and sacrifices.

President Thomas Jefferson, Message to Congress
The marketing of our productions will be at the mercy of any nation which has possessed itself exclusively of the means of carrying them; and our policy may be influenced by those who command our commerce.

President Thomas Jefferson, Message to Congress
For a navigating people to purchase its marine afloat would be a strange speculation, as the marine would always be dependent upon the merchants furnishing them. Placing as a reserve with a foreign nation, or in a foreign shipyard, the carpenters, blacksmiths, caulkers, sailmakers, and the vessels of a nation, would be a singular commercial combination. We must, therefore, build them for ourselves.

To force shipbuilding is to establish shipyards; is to form magazines; to multiply useful hands; to produce artists and workmen of every kind who may be found at once for peaceful speculations of commerce and for the terrible wants of war.

President Thomas Jefferson, Message to Congress
It is as a resource of defense that our navigation will admit neither neglect nor forbearance. The carriage of our commodities if once established in another channel, cannot be resumed in the moment we may desire.

President John Tyler, Annual Message to Congress, 1844
I cannot too strongly urge the policy of authorizing the establishment of a line of steamships regularly to ply between this country and foreign ports, and upon our own waters for the transportation of the mail. The example of the British Government is well worthy of imitation in this respect.

President Ulysses S. Grant, Message to Congress, March 23, 1870
It is a national humiliation that we are now compelled to pay from twenty to thirty million dollars annually (exclusive of passage money which we should share with vessels of other nations) to foreigners for doing the work which should be done by American vessels, American-built, American-owned and American-manned. This is a direct drain upon the resources of the country of just so much money, equal to casting it into the sea, so far as this nation is concerned. A nation of the vast and ever-increasing interior resources of the United States must one day possess its full share of the commerce of these oceans no matter what the cost. Delay will only increase this cost and enhance the difficulty of attaining the result. I therefore put in an earnest plea for early action in this matter, in a way to secure the desired increase of American commerce. . . . I regard it as of such great importance, affecting every interest of the country to so great an extent, that any method which will gain the end will secure a rich national blessing. Building ships and navigating them utilizes vast capital at home; it employs thousands of workmen in their construction and manning; it creates a home market for the products of the farm and the shop; it diminishes the balance of trade against us precisely to the extent of freights and passage money paid to American vessels, and gives us a supremacy upon the seas of inestimable value in case of foreign wars. My opinion is that in addition to subsidizing very desirable lines of ocean traffic, a general assistance should be given in an effective way.

President Theodore Roosevelt, Message to Congress
Ships work for their own countries, just as railroads work for their terminal points. From every standpoint it is unwise for the United States to continue to rely upon the ships of competing nations for the distribution of our goods. it should be more advantageous to carry american goods in American built ships.

President Theodore Roosevelt, Last Annual Message to Congress
To the spread of our trade in peace and the defense of our flag in war a great and prosperous merchant marine is indispensable. We should have ships of our own and seamen of our own to convey our goods to neutral markets, and in case of need, to reinforce our battle line.

President Theodore Roosevelt, Annual Message to Congress 1901
The condition of the American merchant marine is such as to call for immediate remedial action by the Congress. It is discreditable to us as a Nation that our merchant marine should be utterly insignificant in comparison to that of other nations which we overtop in other forms of business. We should not longer submit to conditions under which only a trifling portion of our great commerce is carried in our own ships. To remedy this state of things would not merely serve to build up our shipping interests, but it would also result in benefit to all who are interested in the permanent establishment of a wide market for American products, and would provide an auxiliary force for the Navy.

President Woodrow Wilson, Annual Message to Congress 1914
How are we to build up a great trade if we have not the certain and constant means of transportation upon which all profitable and useful commerce depends? And how are we to get the ships if we wait for the trade to develop without them? The government must open these gates of trade, and open them wide; open them before it is altogether profitable to open them, or altogether reasonable to ask private capital to open them.

President Woodrow Wilson, Message to Congress
To speak plainly we have grossly erred in the way in which we have stunted and hindered the development of our merchant marine . . . . It is necessary for many weighty reasons of national efficiency and development that we should have a great merchant marine . . . . It is high time we repaired our mistake and resumed our commercial independence on the sea.

President Woodrow Wilson, Annual Message to Congress 1915
Moreover we can develop no true or effective American policy without ships of our own -- not ships of war, but ships of peace, carrying goods and carrying much more; creating friendships and rendering indispensable services to all interests on this side of the water. They must move constantly back and forth between the Americas. They are the only shuttles that can weave the delicate fabric of sympathy, comprehension, confidence, and mutual dependence in which we wish to clothe our policy of America for Americans.

President Calvin Coolidge, Message to Congress
The maintenance of a merchant marine is of the utmost importance for national defense and the service of our commerce.

President Calvin Coolidge,
Message to Congress
Our own vessels carry only about 40 per cent of our foreign trade. We are dependent on our competitors to carry 60 per cent of our trade to market. Of course the result is that they help themselves and hamper us. Parity in merchant ships is only less important than parity in warships. We ought to make the necessary sacrifice to secure it.

President Calvin Coolidge
Public interest in the Merchant Marine has never been sufficiently strong. We all believe in good roads on land. A merchant ship is the only good road on the water. For the same reason that the government builds highways and leaves them to private operation it is justified in helping build ships for private operation. Both national defense and commerce require ships.

President James K. Polk, Message to Congress, 1847
The enlightened policy by which a rapid communication with the various distant parts of the world is established by means of American-built steamers, will find an ample reward in the increase of our commerce, and in making our country and its resources more favorably known abroad.

Our navigating interest is eminently prosperous. should the ratio of increaes in the number of our merchant vessels be progressive, and be as great for the future as during the past year, the time is not distant when our tonnage and commercial marine will be larger than that of any other nation in the world.

President Rutherford B. Hayes, Annual Message to Congress, 1877
The commerce of the United States with foreign nations has of late years largely increased; but the greater part of this trade is conducted in foreign vessels. It is a matter of great moment that our own shipping interests should receive to the utmost practicable extent, the benefit of our commerce with other lands. These considerations are forcibly urged and it is not doubted that Congress will take them up in the broadest spirit of liberality and respond to the public demand by practical legislation upon this important subject.

President Rutherford B. Hayes, Annual Message to Congress, 1880
Especially important is it that our commercial relations with the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts of South America, with the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico, should be direct, and not through the circuit of the European systems, and should be carried on in our own bottoms.

President Chester Arthur, Annual Message to Congress, 1882
This subject (shipping) is of the utmost importance to the national welfare. Methods of reviving American shipbuilding and restoring the United States flag to the ocean-carrying trade should receive the immediate attention of Congress.

President Benjamin Harrison, Annual Message to Congress, 1892
The United States has been paying an enormous annual tribute to foreign countries in the shape of freight and passage money. The balance of trade as shown by the books of our custom houses has been largely reduced, and in many years altogether extinguished by this constant drain. I have felt, and have before expressed the feeling, that this condition of things was both intolerable and disgraceful.

President Benjamin Harrison, Annual Message to Congress, 1889
There is nothing more justly humiliating to the national pride and nothing more hurtful to the national prosperity than the inferiority of our merchant marine compared with that of other nations whose general resources, wealth and seacoast lines do not suggest any reason for their supremacy upon the sea. That the great steamship lines sailing under the flags of England, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, were promoted and have since been and now are liberally aided by grants of public money is generally known. I am an advocate of economy in our national expenditure, but it is a misuse of terms to make this word describe a policy that withholds an expenditure for the purpose of extending our foreign commerce. The enlarged participation of our people in the carrying trade, the new and increased markets that will be opened for the products of our farms and factories, and the fuller and better employment of our mechanics which will result from a liberal promotion of our foreign commerce, insure the widest possible diffusion of benefit to all the states and to all our people.

President Grover Cleveland, Annual Message to Congress, 1894
The millions now paid to foreigners for carrying American passengers and products across the sea should be turned into American hands.

President William McKinley, Annual Message to Congress, 1899
Our national development will be one-sided and unsatisfactory so long as the remarkable growth of our inland industries remains un-accompanied by progress upon the seas. There is no lack of constitutional authority for legislation which shall give to this country maritime strength commensurate with its industrial achievements and with its rank among the nations of the earth.

President William McKinley,
speech at the Pan-American Exposition, September 5, 1901, Buffalo, New York [his last public speech]
Our capacity to produce has developed so enormously, and our products have so multiplied, that the problem of more markets requires our urgent and immediate attention. By sensible trade arrangements, which will not interrupt our home production, we shall extend the outlets for our ever increasing surplus.

What we produce beyond our domestic consumption must have vent abroad. The expansion of our trade and commerce is the pressing problem. Next in advantage to having the thing to sell is to have the conveyance to carry it to the buyer.

We must encourage our merchant marine. We must have more ships. They must be under the American flag, built and manned and owned by Americans. They will not only be profitable in a commercial sense; they will be messengers of peace and amity wherever they go. Reciprocity treaties are in harmony with the spirit of the times.

President William Howard Taft, Annual Message to Congress, 1911
All the great commercial nations pay heavy subsidies to their merchant marine, so that it is obvious that without some wise aid from Congress the United States must lag behind in the matter of a merchant marine.

President William Howard Taft, Inaugural address, March 4, 1909
People run away from the name subsidy. It is a subsidy. I am not afraid to call it so. It is paid for the purpose of giving a merchant marine to the whole country so that the trade of the whole country will be benefited thereby, and the men running the ships will of course make a reasonable profit. . . . Unless we have a merchant marine, our navy if called upon for offensive or defensive work is going to be most defective.

President William Howard Taft, Speech at Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, September 29, 1909
I need not tell you of the inadequacy of the American shipping marine on the Pacific Coast. . . . For this reason it seems to me that there is no subject to which Congress can better devote its attention in the coming session than the passage of a bill which shall encourage our merchant marine in such a way as to establish American lines directly between New York and the eastern ports and South American ports, and both our Pacific Coast ports and the Orient and the Philippines.

President Warren G. Harding
Our shipping will strengthen American genius and determination, because carrying is second only to production in establishing and maintaining the flow of commerce to which we rightfully aspire.

I do not for one moment believe in government ownership as a permanent policy but I prefer that hazardous venture to the surrender of our hopes for a merchant marine.

So we mean to maintain the flag on the sea until such a future day as when Congress may rise above the obstructionist when the reflective sentiment of all the country will sense the great necessity and compel the legislation required to turn to the national way of triumph on the seas.

President Warren G. Harding, Message to Congress Nov. 21, 1922
If "Government Aid" is a fair term -- and I think it is -- to apply to authorizations aggregating $75,000,000 to promote good roads for market highways, it is equally fit to be applied to the establishment and maintenance of American market highways on the seas. If government aid is the proper designation for fifteen to forty millions annually expended to improve and maintain inland waterways in aid of commerce, it is a proper designation for a needed assistance to establish and maintain ocean highways where there is actual commerce to be carried. . . . We have aided industry through our tariffs; we have aided railway transportation in land grants and loans, we have aided the construction of market roads and improvement of inland waterways. We have aided reclamation and irrigation and the development of waterpower, and we have loaned seed grains in anticipation of harvest. We expended millions in investigation and experimentation to promote a common benefit, though a limited few are the direct beneficiaries. We have loaned hundreds of millions to promote the marketing of American goods. It has all been commendable and highly worthwhile.

President Herbert Hoover, Message read at the launching of the SS Santa Rosa in 1932
The efforts put forth in the rehabilitation of the American merchant marine have proved beneficial to the country at large. During the past ten years, as compared with the pre-war decade, the proportion of our foreign trade carried by ships under the American flag has substantially increased. It has notably grown in trades where no American flag services previously were provided.

Harry S Truman
During the black years of War, the men of the Merchant Marine did their job with boldness and daring. Six thousand were killed or missing in carrying out their duties. In memory of those men, and in the interest of our Nation, the United States must carry out the bold and daring plan of Franklin D. Roosevelt for a Merchant Marine of the best designed and equipped passenger and cargo ships, manned by the best trained men in the world.

Harry S Truman, Praises Merchant Marine Ships in the Korean War

A "WELL DONE" has been signaled by President Truman to the American Merchant Marine for its outstanding support of the United Nations forces in Korea, while at the same time continuing to perform its normal task of moving the nation's commerce, Hugh Gallagher, National President of the Propeller Club of the United States, disclosed.

Mr. Gallagher said the President, in a letter saluting the club's silver jubilee convention and the eighteenth annual Merchant Marine Conference, asserted that all segments of maritime labor and management could well be proud of the accomplishments of the nation's merchant fleet, both in its defense and normal pursuits.

President Truman declared that the American Merchant Marine has played an important role in the maintenance of the American way of life and also in bulwarking the anti-Communist defenses of freedom-loving nations everywhere. He pointed out that support for the Allied forces in Korea had not interfered with the movement of mountains of foreign aid goods to friendly nations in other parts of the world, nor with the merchant fleet's year-round task of transporting the export products of our farms and industries.

In his letter to Mr. Gallagher the President termed this year's theme, which was "The American Merchant Marine --- Indispensable to Our Freedom," particularly fitting in view of pressures being exerted against our freedom. He also expressed hope that the conference would deal with ways whereby we can preserve this freedom.

MAST Magazine, U.S. Maritime Service, November, 1951

President Lyndon B. Johnson
All through our Nation's history the prosperity of our people -- as well as the safety of our people -- has been tied very closely to the role that we play on the seas of the world. And that is a role that we can never wisely or never safely neglect.

President Lyndon B. Johnson
The complex task of creating and maintaining a merchant marine adequate to our needs for peacetime commerce, and sufficient for defense purposes, requires the efforts of government, management and labor and the support of all Americans.

President Lyndon B. Johnson
Throughout American history, the Merchant Marine has been indispensable to our security and prosperity. Today, our merchant fleet binds us in peaceful commerce with the increasingly interdependent nations of the world.

President Richard M. Nixon, October 23, 1969
I am announcing today a new maritime program for this Nation, one which will replace the drift and neglect of recent years and restore this country to a proud position in the shipping lanes of the world.

Our program is one of challenge and opportunity. We will challenge the American shipbuilding industry to show that it can rebuild our Merchant Marine at reasonable expense. We will challenge American ship operators and seamen to move toward less dependence on government subsidy. And, through a substantially revised and better administered government program, we will create the opportunity to meet that challenge.

President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Message, January 25, 1979
I will propose overdue changes in the Nation's maritime policies. We must improve the ability of our Merchant Marine to win a fair share of our cargo.

President Jimmy Carter, letter to Congressman John M. Murphy, July 20, 1979
We must not allow this unhealthy trend [in U.S. flag shipping] to continue. Steps must be taken to reverse the decline and begin to improve the strength of this essential industry.


Quotes about American Merchant Marine by Military Leaders

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army
Every man in this Allied command is quick to express his admiration for the loyalty, courage, and fortitude of the officers and men of the Merchant Marine. We count upon their efficiency and their utter devotion to duty as we do our own; they have never failed us yet and in all the struggles yet to come we know that they will never be deterred by any danger, hardship, or privation. When final victory is ours there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army
Maximum safety of these lines of communication is a 'must" in our military effort, no matter what else we attempt to do. . . . Shipping. . . will remain the bottleneck of our effective effort.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chief of Army Plans [Early 1942]
Ships! Ships! All we need is ships! What a headache!

Hitler's U-boat War: The Hunters 1939-1942 by Clay Blair

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces in North Africa, September 27,1943
This headquarters has just heard the glorious news that American shipyards have produced more than 2,100 merchant vessels in the past two years. This remarkable record, unequaled in history, will bring confidence and encouragement to every soldier, sailor and airman in the Allied Forces, for they are most keenly aware that their ability to carry on the fight, indeed their ability to survive, is completely dependent on ships.

Unprecedented distances separate our fighting forces from our home bases in this war. The vast bulk of our reinforcements in men and material are seaborne. Ship construction, therefore, contributes as never before to victory.

Ahead of us are the most severe and decisive months of the war. Help is needed more than ever. Ships, still more ships, and ever more ships will help smash the enemy until unconditional surrender is achieved.

War Shipping Administration Press Release 1583

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army Cable to War Shipping Administration, June 28, 1944:
In behalf of the men in my command, I thank the men of the Merchant Marine for their pledge of full cooperation in our common effort to destroy the forces of tyranny and darkness. The huge quantities of supplies that have been brought across the Atlantic are a testimonial to the job that has already been done.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army, Tribute on V-E Day, May 8, 1945 after Germany surrendered:
The truly heroic man of this war is GI Joe and his counterpart of the Air, Navy, and Merchant Marine.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, General of the Army 1945
The officers and men of the merchant marine, by their devotion to duty in the face of enemy action, as well as the natural dangers of the sea, have brought us the tools to finish the job. Their contribution to final victory will be long remembered.

Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army
I wish to commend to you the valor of the merchant seamen participating with us in the liberation of the Philippines. With us they have shared the heaviest enemy fire. On this island I have ordered them off their ships and into fox holes when their ships became untenable targets of attack. At our side they have suffered in bloodshed and in death. The caliber of efficiency and the courage they displayed in their part of the invasion of the Philippines marked their conduct throughout the entire campaign in the southwest Pacific area. They have contributed tremendously to our success. I hold no branch in higher esteem than the Merchant Marine.

Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army

They have brought us our lifeblood and they had paid for it with some of their own. I saw them bombed off the Philippines and in New Guinea ports. When it was humanly possible, when their ships were not blown out from under them by bombs or torpedoes, they have delivered their cargoes to us who needed them so badly. In war it is performance that counts.

Press Release/Odlin - Maritime 62: PR 2404 (W) WAR SHIPPING ADMINISTRATION Washington, Advance Release, Sunday Papers, October 14, 1945

Jonathan Wainwright, General
Wainwright Praises Men Who 'Deliver the Goods': General Jonathan Wainwright, after inspecting his son's ship, the Lakeland Victory in San Francisco harbor, said: "I am proud that my son, Commander Wainwright of the U. S. Maritime Service, is part of this great American Merchant Marine. The youth of the nation and the training they are given now for service in the Merchant Marine will greatly effect the post-war economy of the United States. The winning of the war depended upon the amount of supplies that were delivered by this great fleet to every Pacific base and beachhead." Commander Jonathan Wainwright V, holder of the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for heroic action at Salerno, is captain of the Lakeland Victory, recently commissioned in San Francisco harbor.
[NEPTUNE newsletter, U. S. Maritime Officer's Training School, Alameda, California. September 1945]

George C. Marshall, General, U.S. Army Chief of Staff
The men and women who build the ships, the men who sail them, are making it possible to transport fighting men and supplies wherever they are needed to defeat the enemy. The Army is deeply indebted to these men and women for their unceasing effort to do everything in their power to hasten the day of Victory.

George C. Marshall, General, U.S. Army Chief of Staff
From War Shipping Administration Press Release, May 18, 1945:
America's Merchant Marine has carried out its war mission with great distinction, and has demonstrated its ability to meet the challenge of redeploying our full power to the Pacific.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
Not one of us who fought in the late war can forget --- nor should any citizen be allowed to forget --- that the national resource which enabled us to carry the war to the enemy and fight in his territory and not our own was our Merchant Marine. The fighting fleets and Marines of our Navy, the ground forces of our Army, and the aircraft of both would have been helpless to pound the enemy into defeat overseas, had it not been for the steady stream of personnel, equipment and supplies of every character brought into the rear of the combat areas, and often directly into those areas, by the ships of our own Merchant Marine and those of our allies.... It is well to remember that a professional Army and Navy are merely nuclei of the armed forces needed to wage war.... there is a natural tendency to forget the vital relationship which the Merchant Marine bears to our individual and collective welfare, in peace as well as war.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
I particularly desire to acknowledge the services of the commercial tankers engaged in transporting fuels to the Fleet. Our requirements were numbered in millions of barrels to be transported thousands of miles to the scene of Fleet operations. The volume involved demanded the utmost in operations management to assure a rate of delivery keeping with our needs. Our success in keeping the Fleet properly fueled was dependent upon the deliveries by these commercial ships. Not once did they fail.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
The sea lanes of the Pacific, extended westward more than 4,000 miles in the last year, are crowded with merchant ships supporting our offensive against Japan. Without these ships wholly devoted to winning the war, our substantial progress would not have been possible. This war has fully confirmed the necessity for a strong and sound merchant marine in time of peace so that it may be employed as an auxiliary of the Army and Navy in time of war. The convincing way in which this fundamental fact has been demonstrated in the Pacific is a tribute to the ability and patriotism of the American Merchant Marine and augers well for the future.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
War Shipping Administration Press Release PR 1839, April 23, 1944
The Merchant Marine Service has repeatedly proved its right to be considered as an integral part of our fighting team. Its efforts have contributed in great part to our success. Well done.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
The United States Merchant Marine played an important part in the achievement of victory in Europe, and it is destined to play an even more important role in helping to finish off the Japanese. To move great quantities of war materials from principal sources of supply across 6,000 miles of ocean to battlefronts in the Far East is the formidable task now confronting our merchant fleet. We are confident it will be done quickly and efficiently in keeping with the high standards of accomplishment set by the Merchant Marine in every war in our history.

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet
Letter to Admiral Land, November 3 ,1944
During these weeks of continued successes by our Navy in the Western Pacific it seems timely and proper that full acknowledgment be made of the indispensable role of War Shipping Administration ships in making these successes possible. Never before has any comparable fighting force been supplied with the materials of offensive warfare over such vast ocean distances as those now being transported to the Fleet by the commercial ships operating under your jurisdiction.

During our operations we have had all types of commercial ships working aid, by side with similar ships of the Navy. While the two groups of ships were under separate administrative control their ultimate objective was a common one.

I particularly desire to acknowledge the services of the commercial tankers engaged in transporting fuels to the Fleet. Our requirements were numbered in millions of barrels to be transported thousands of miles to the scene of Fleet operations. The volume involved demanded the utmost in operational management to assure a rate of delivery in keeping with our needs. Our success in keeping the Fleet properly fueled was dependent upon the deliveries by these commercial ships. Not once did they fail.

For these performances of the War Shipping Administration, ashore and afloat. I send a hearty "WELL DONE."

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations
Excerpt from Address to Joint Session of Congress October 5, 1945
[New York Times, Oct 6, 1945]
Our operations would not have been possible without the strong support of our Merchant Marine. These gallant officers and men maintained a bridge of ships across the Pacific, and bore their share of the Japanese attacks while unloading on distant islands where the struggle was still intense and the issue not yet decided.

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
A Bridge of a Ships is the short line to Tokyo.

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U. S. Navy
During the past 3 1/2 years, the Navy has been dependent upon the Merchant Marine to supply our far-flung fleet and bases. Without this support, the Navy could not have accomplished its mission. Consequently, it is fitting that the Merchant Marine share in our success as it shared in our trials. The Merchant Marine is a strong bulwark of national defense in peace and war, and a buttress to a sound national economy. A large Merchant Marine is not only an important national resource; it is, in being, an integral part of the country's armed might during time of crisis. During World War II, this precept has been proven.

The Armed Forces, with the help of the Merchant Marine, have pushed the fighting 5,000 miles west. Together, they'll go the rest of the way.

Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U. S. Navy
Because the Navy shares life and death, attack and victory, with the men of the United States Merchant Marine, we are fully aware of their contribution to the victory which must come.

Lt. General Alexander A. Vandegrift, U. S. Marine Corps Commandant
The men and ships of the Merchant Marine have participated in every landing operation by the United States Marine Corps from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima -- and we know they will be at hand with supplies and equipment when American amphibious forces hit the beaches of Japan itself.

Lt. General Alexander A. Vandegrift, U. S. Marine Corps Commandant
Tribute to the war record of merchant seamen was paid by General A. A. Vandegrift, U.S.M.C., Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, who commanded the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal, in a letter marking National Maritime Day 1946. The letter was addressed to Captain Granville Conway, Administrator, War Shipping Administration.

On those distant Pacific Islands where the Marines fought, the men and ships of the merchant fleet constituted a vital link in the chain of supply... on National Maritime Day we of the Marine Corps take pleasure in congratulating your organization on a job well done.

Admiral T. C. Kinkaid, USN Commander, Eastern Sea Frontier
We have had ample demonstration in the recent war of the fact that a large and efficient Merchant Marine is not only a great asset in the effective conduct of war but it is a vital necessity. . .

The relationship between the Navy and the Merchant Marine is no longer one-sided. Because of the great distances to be covered and because of the vastly increased logistic support required by the land, sea and air forces, the Merchant Marine is just as necessary to the Navy and other armed forces as the Navy is to the Merchant Marine . . . this country requires . . . a large reserve of merchant ships laid up in a state of preservation which will permit of their quick activation in time of emergency.

And last but not least our Merchant Marine must be officered by men of intelligence and character. I am glad to say that we have taken steps to provide such officers for our ships.

The young men of the U. S. Maritime Service and the Federal and State Maritime Academies represent the Merchant Marine officers of the future and, also, our ambassadors of good will to all parts of the world. They will be the backbone and foundation of a Merchant Marine which I believe to be vital to the interests of our country.

General Sir Bernard Montgomery (British)
Our fighting men could not have successfully carried out the task of clearing the desert if merchant seamen had not been determined to defy all conditions of air and sea attack to see that we got the stuff, and the air attacks on the Mediterranean convoys were extremely heavy.

During the Tripoli campaign, I went down to the waterfront and personally thanked the men and skippers of the merchant ships for getting through with the stuff to the various ports which were opened up by the Eighth Army as we pushed westward along the shores of the Mediterranean.

Allied seamen reacted excellently under heavy fire during the taking of Sicily and their conduct in action was a potent factor in the opening of the back door to Europe.

Their contribution was just as important as that of the troops.

Captain Edward Macauley, USN, Deputy Administrator War Shipping Administration
And the men who man that line -- the Merchant Seamen who, long before Pearl Harbor, enlisted against Fascism -- will hold it until both the war and the peace are won and the free word is once again a fact....
Americans trust and love their Navy. They know it will always come through. Americans have only recently awakened to the fact that the Navy's civilian sister, the Merchant Marine, always comes through too.

Admiral Harold R. Stark, Commander of U. S. Naval Forces in Europe
Yours was the first front on every ocean and without you no army and navy can survive. When the final record of the war is written, one of the vital teams participating will be recognized as the merchant seamen in dungarees. When the war is over, we of the Navy will salute you with a final 'Well Done'.

Rear Admiral Howard L. Vickery, Vice-Chairman of the Maritime Commission and Deputy Administrator of the War Shipping Administration
Even before Pearl Harbor, American seamen were under hostile fire from air and sea. Ever since then, the Merchant Marine as a whole has been constantly in action, meeting the enemy, day in and day out, from the Arctic to the South Pacific. There is no more heroic saga in the annals of man than the story of the courage and stamina of our Merchant Seamen, without whom we could not hope to be victorious.

In an address made the following comment on the rate of shipbuilding since the war began: "Helen of Troy has long been known, among other things, as the girl with the face that launched a thousand ships. Now, anyone would think that the faces of Hitler and Tojo would only he good for stopping clocks, but as matters stand today the ships they have caused to be launched make Helen look like a piker."

"actual construction of the world's greatest Merchant Marine has been the handiwork of farmers, shopkeepers, and housewives, workers recruited from every walk of life to learn and carry out one of the most difficult jobs in industry. The extent of their contribution toward victory may be visualized by imagining the ships they have built since December 7, 1941, steaming in a column and spaced at mile intervals. An unbroken line would be formed extending from Maine to Scotland, or, if you like, from Dutch Harbor to Tokyo."

MAST Magazine, February 1944

Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Pilot of the Enola Gay
You guys put your ass on the line everyday! Those of us old timers know and appreciate what you did!

General Colin Powell, Persian Gulf War
Since I became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I have come to appreciate first-hand why our Merchant Marine has long been called our Nation's fourth arm of defense. The American seafarer provides an essential service to the well-being of the Nation as was demonstrated so clearly during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.... We are a maritime nation. We must be able to project power across the seas. This means that not only do we need a strong Navy, but a strong maritime industry as well.

General John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Address to USMMA cadets, approx. 1998
Today, after two centuries, our merchant marine is every bit as important and every bit as vital to the commerce and defense of our nation as it ever has been.

We simply cannot overstate the vital contributions of our U.S. merchant marine. Our national security depends on its vitality.

General Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Address to USMMA cadets, 2001 during Battle Standard Dinner
Quite simply stated, our national security strategy depends on a vital merchant marine, and the Joint Chiefs and I know it and so do our leaders in Washington.

Ask any officer from any of the services who has had the opportunity to serve on a joint task force in the myriad of hot spots around the globe -- just ask any of them if the U.S. merchant marine is important to their operations. You will not only get a 'yes,' but a resounding 'yes-and-can-we-have-more!

Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov
We sincerely honor the memory of the killed British and American seamen who despite the dangerous situation at sea, despite the fact that they faced death every mile of the way, supplied us [USSR] with some of the materials under the Lend-Lease agreement.

Admiral B. H. Ramsay, Allied Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force, sent to all masters of merchant vessels taking part in the European liberation operations following message:

"We are about to embark on the most critical operation of the war, the invasion of German occupied France, for which we have been waiting and pre-paring since the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated from Dunkirk.

"The invasion is being undertaken by all Allied forces in which all arms and the merchant navies will play their part.

"The ships that you command are amongst those selected for this vital task and the manner in which each is conducted will have a direct bearing on the campaign ahead. The gaining of a bridgehead by the Allied Expeditionary Force requires the strongest available support from the Allied Navies and Air Forces; the subsequent reinforcement and maintenance of the expeditionary force necessitates the regular arrival and quick turnaround of a vast quantity of merchant shipping of all types. Unless the volume of reinforcements and supplies can be kept up as planned, support for our armies will not be able to match that of the enemy, and our position on the continent, let alone our ability to advance, may well be imperiled.

"This operation must by its nature be a set piece but there will be plenty of opportunities for initiative on the part of masters and crews of which I am confident you will take full advantage. There will also be difficulties and dangers calling for the highest qualities of leadership and determination, which I am equally sure will be forthcoming, remembering as you will that our armies and air forces are at the same time facing even greater perils.

"I know that all will be proud to be associated with this great enterprise, which is the climax of the European War, and I wish you all Godspeed."

Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, USN, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, Poster 236, WWII-14, Date unknown
The Battle of the Atlantic is still a round the clock fight.

General John J. Pershing, Sixth National Conference on the Merchant Marine, held under the auspices of the United States Shipping Board, January 5, 1933
The knowledge of the woeful lack of American shipping for the transportation of our armies abroad in 1917 and 1918 should make an indelible impression upon the mind of every American and drive him to the conclusion that we must provide an adequate merchant marine under our flag. Our bitter experience during those crucial years of the nation's history should never be forgotten, and I pray that the American people will never again permit themselves to be placed in such a position with its vast and extremely dangerous possibilities. . . .

Every vessel floating the American flag is not only of possible use as a military transport, but each such vessel adds just so much to the strength of our national defense system as an auxiliary to our Navy. By all means let us continue the fixed policy of building up a strong merchant marine."

Our Navy's Greatest Need: An Adequate Merchant Marine. Middle West Trade Commission, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1933

Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan
Let each nation [the U. S. and Britain] be educated to realize the length and breadth of its own interest in the sea; when that is done, the identity of these interests will become apparent. This identity cannot be established firmly in men's minds antecedent to the great teacher, Experience; and experience cannot be had before that further development of the facts which will follow the not far distant day, when the United States people must again betake themselves to the sea and to external action....

Merchant Marine: Bottoms for Britain. Time. March 31, 1941


Quotes about American Merchant Marine by World and National Leaders

Winston S. Churchill, "The Second World War, Volume III, The Grand Alliance," 1950

All was ruled by that harsh and despotic factor, shipping.

Winston S. Churchill

Shipping was at once the stranglehold and the sole foundation of our war strategy.

Hitler's U-boat War: The Hunters 1939-1942 by Clay Blair

Winston S. Churchill

The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.

Churchill, Winston. The Second World War. 2 Volumes. New York: Time Incorporated. 1959

Winston S. Churchill

Enemy submarines are to be called U-boats. The term "submarine" is to be reserved for Allied underwater vessels. U-boats are those dastardly villains who sink our ships, while submarines are those gallant and noble craft which sink theirs.

Gannon, Michael. Black May. New York: Harper Collins, 1998

Winston S. Churchill, "Closing the Ring."

"The Battle of the Atlantic was the dominating factor all through the war. Never for one moment could we forget that everything happening elsewhere, on land, at sea, in the air, depended ultimately on its outcome... Many gallant actions and incredible feats of endurance are recorded, but the deeds of those who perished will never be known. Our merchant seamen displayed their highest qualities and the brotherhood of the sea was never more strikingly shown than in their determination to defeat the U-boat."

Senator Rufus King of New York, Minister to Great Britain 1796-1803
Agriculture, manufactures and foreign commerce are the true sources of wealth and power of nations. . . . but without shipping and seamen, the surpluses of agriculture and manufactures would depreciate on our hands; the cotton, tobacco, breadstuffs, provisions and manufactures would turn out to be of little worth, unless we have ships and mariners to carry them abroad, and to distribute them in foreign markets.

Representative, Senator, and Secretary of State James G. Blaine of Maine in "Twenty Years in Congress"
The principle of protecting the manufactures and encouraging the navigation of America had been distinctly proclaimed in the first law of the new government and was thus made in a suggestive and emphatic sense the very corner stone of the Republican edifice which the patriots of the Revolution were aiming to construct.

Representative Nelson Dingley, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, 1897
The decline of our merchant marine in the foreign trade is a humiliating fact. If our shipping in the foreign trade had grown in proportion to the increase of the cargoes provided by our foreign commerce, we should have had a most magnificent fleet of vessels engaged in transporting our exports and imports.

Representative Fisher Ames, Massachusetts, May 1789
I believe the encouragement of our navigation is looked upon to be indispensably necessary. Its importance has never been denied. . . . How much better it is to go with vessels of our own in search of a market than to wait for others to take our produce away until it perishes. How unfavorable it is to our commerce to have the success of our business depend upon the caprice or mercy of any foreign nation.

Senator Thomas Benton, Missouri
While the lack of power to regulate foreign commerce was a primary defect of the Confederate Government (1774 to 1788) and the necessity for its exercise so great as to form a chief cause for creating the Federal Government, it is singular that Congress has always overlooked it, or confounded it with impost or revenue power. Though not now exercised, it is a power which has found a need for its exercise, and will find it again.

Secretary of State Elihu Root, 1906
We are living in a world not of natural competition, but of subsidized competition. State aid to steamship lines is as much a part of the commercial system of our day as state employment of consuls to promote business. It will be observed that both of these disadvantages under which the American shipowner labors are artificial; they are created by governmental action-one by our own government in raising the standards of living and wages, by the protective tariff; the other by foreign governments in paying subsidies to their ships for the promotion of their own trade. For the American shipowner it is not a contest of intelligence, skill, industry, and thrift against similar qualities in his competitor; it is a contest against his competitors and his competitors' government and his own government also. Plainly, these disadvantages created by governmental action can be neutralized only by governmental action, and should be neutralized by such action.

Senator Wesley L. Jones, 1913
Since 1885, foreign ships have carried over $50,000,000,000 of our foreign commerce. Estimating the freight at 15 per cent, we have paid them over $7,500,000,000 for getting our products to their markets and supplying our own. Of what benefit is a balance of trade in our favor if we pay out most of it for freight?

Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover
We must have ships if we would expand our exports on sound lines, and we must have them as auxiliaries to our national defense . . . .

To secure export markets we must have some sound proportion of American controlled shipping to assure us against combinations in rates which would prejudice our goods in competitive markets. Nor have our merchants been without experience of finding that the transport of our goods in foreign bottoms has been taken advantage of by our competitors to learn details of our trade connections.

It is just as important to the farmer to be guaranteed reasonable rates of sea transport as of land freight. The real security is an American-owned merchant marine.

It is simply a truism to say that we must have an American Overseas Merchant Marine.

There is only one protection of our commerce from discrimination and from combinations which would impose onerous freight rates. That is to maintain upon these trade routes the regular operation of very substantial shipping under the American flag.

General Lewis B. Hershey, Director, Selective Service System

Service in the merchant marine, considering its importance to the war effort and hazards involved, is so closely allied to the service in the armed forces that men found by the local board to be actively engaged at sea may well be considered as engaged in active defense of the country. Such service may properly be considered as tantamount to military service.

Governor Ellis Arnall of Georgia, 1946
American prosperity is linked with the prosperity of the rest of the world. Our economic security depends in a large measure upon a strong Merchant Marine. I have always agreed with the late President Roosevelt who said, "Foreign trade is the life blood of shipping."

We of America owe too much to these officers and men to forget them. We can't let them down! We must not have short memories nor permit others to forget.

Certainly, I think Merchant Seamen are entitled to these benefits. Government agencies and high officials have constantly paid tribute to these men for their deeds and devotion to duty. I think we have given enough lip service. We should have taken action long ago to give these men their just rights. This must not be token legislation -- but something real, tangible, and worthwhile.

Assistant Secretary of State W. L. Clayton, May 1946
An outstanding war-time development was the expansion of the United States merchant fleet into one which now exceeds the combined tonnage of the rest of the world, and constitutes about 60 percent of the world total.

During the war ship building was essentially a munitions industry. During the war the Merchant Marine was devoted to transporting supplies, personnel, and weapons of war, just as much as our bombers, tanks, battleships, and other weapons.

Without our great number of ships we could never have brought the Axis Powers to their knees. From Pearl Harbor to the end of the war, the cry was for ships, ships, and more ships.

The Paths of Peace, MAST Magazine, U.S. Maritime Service, May 1946

Secretary of State Cordell Hull
No phase of economic rehabilitation is more vital than a restoration and expansion of foreign trade through a reestablishment of fair and friendly and cooperative trade relations among the nations.

Eleanor Roosevelt, on her visit to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on May 5, 1944 as reported in the June 1944 issue of Polaris Magazine (originally appeared in New York World Telegram, May 8, 1944)

If people had visited the places I have seen, they would realize the effects of total war. The armed forces, including the Merchant Marine, are really serving their country.

Eleanor Roosevelt, syndicated column, "MY DAY," as it appeared in newspapers throughout the nation on May 8, 1944
Some day they hope to erect a memorial to the members of the group who have died at sea during the war. Already 124 have died and some are missing, for the Merchant Marine is a dangerous service. There are some fine stories of heroism on which to begin building the traditions of the Cadet-Midshipmen of the Merchant Marine Academy. Like all other military establishments the barracks are beautifully neat. I lunched with Cadet-Midshipmen and enjoyed very much the opportunity of seeing this very fine group of young men. As they marched past us in review I was greatly impressed by them.

Eleanor Roosevelt, June 1942
In some cases they [the men who man merchant ships] run even greater risks than the boys in the regular army and navy. When we realize that over and over again they land from one torpedoed ship and as soon as they recover from wounds or exposure they start on another trip; we can hardly fail to pay homage for supreme courage.

Vice Admiral Emery S. Land, USN (Ret.), Chairman, United States Maritime Commission and War Shipping Administrator
The record of achievement and that brought our merchant fleet to its present proportions is a proud one, and reviewing and briefly might serve to demonstrate that while the task ahead is a difficult one, it can be overcome. This is how America and did that job: The Merchant Marine Act, creating the Maritime Commission, was passed by Congress in 1936. In 1939, the first of a modern fleet of cargo ships was delivered. At the end of 1940, 46 of these were at work. By the time of Pearl Harbor, 50 more had been added, and shortly thereafter the first Liberty ship, the Patrick Henry, was delivered for service.
The Commission was directed by President Roosevelt in 1942 to build a 8 million tons of shipping. The goal was succeeded. Sixteen million tons was the mark set for 1943. More than 19 million tons were delivered. By the time we were back in the Philippines more than 4,000 cargo ships built in the wartime in U.S. shipyards were at work for the United Nations. Officers and men of the Merchant Marine numbered about 55,000 in 1941. In December 1944 there were 200,000 men sailing our ships.



Quotes about American Merchant Marine from Newspapers

New York Times, June 9, 1944
LONDON. June 9 -- D-day would not have been possible without the Merchant Marine. Now that the long-awaited day is history and great Allied forces have been landed in France, it is permitted to indicate the part played by these intrepid civilians, whose deeds for the most part have gone unsung. It is not generally realized that the Merchant Marine has the largest ratio of casualties of any branch of the services, and many of the names on the list are not classified "wounded" or "missing." They were those of the men whose grave is the sea.

Working side-by-side with the British Merchant Navy and the Allied fleets, the American Merchant Marine has reached a new peak of glory, and into this latest venture it has brought all the hard-earned experience of such historic episodes as the African landings and the bitterly-fought Arctic runs to Russia. For weeks before D-day hundreds of merchant ships which had been diverted from their regular runs for the invasion service roamed the waters near the British Isles without a port to come to. They were kept outside so the enemy would not see any great ship concentration at any principal port.

At the prearranged time they rendezvoused, picked up their priceless cargo and sailed for France. Undaunted by the threat of air attacks, sea mines, surface fire, submarines or coastal batteries they fulfilled their mission according to schedule and returned to Britain's shores to start a shuttle service that will not end before Germany's unconditional surrender. At their sides are a thousand or more British merchant ships with 50,000 seamen, many of whom have old scores to settle -- scores that started at Dunkerque and were aggravated at Crete. The ships that went to France were of every conceivable type of transport. Some were former luxury liners that even confirmed 'round-the-world travelers would no longer recognize. Others were no larger than good-sized barges or sea-going tugs. But most were new, the internationally-known Liberty ships, designed to meet the needs of war.


Quotes about the American Merchant Marine by Famous People


Bob Hope's Christmas 1944 Broadcast to the U.S. Merchant Marine Everywhere

They're Z-men. Did you ever hear of Z-men? Sounds like a gag, doesn't it? Well, it isn't. Z-men are the guys without whom General "Ike's" army and Admiral Nimitz' navy couldn't live. Five thousand seven hundred of them have died from enemy torpedoes, mines, bombs or bullets since our zero hour at Pearl Harbor.

Z-men are the men of the Merchant Marine. They carry a big wad of identification papers in a book called a Z book, so they call them Z-men... Listen, it takes nerve to go to work in a hot engine room, never knowing when a torpedo might smash the hull above you and send thousands of tons of sea water in to snuff out your life. It takes courage to sail into the waters of an enemy barbaric enough to tie your hands and feet and submerge you so you can drown, like a rat, without a fight. It takes courage to man an ammunition ship after you heard how Nazi bombers blew up 17 shiploads of ammunition at Bari and not a man was ever found of the crews. I was there about that time. I'll never forget it...

Complete text of Bob Hope's Christmas Broadcast

Carole LandisUnited We Stand by Carole Landis (MAST Magazine, November 1944)
Hitler wasn't guessing when he incorporated into his psychological warfare the strategy of "divide and conquer." It worked in Norway and it worked in France, and because there is no immunity to Fascism, it's trying hard right here in the United States. There is one antidote.

We've got to remember that we're all in this together. British, Russians, Chinese. And French-Polish-Yugoslav-Jewish-Irish-Mexican-English or what-have-you-Americans. Indians, whites, and Negroes. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, boys in the AAF or Merchant Marine. And civilians. Yes, civilians.

All the names from Pearl Harbor onwards are written on our memories and on our hearts and in your steel and your blood and your courage. The exploits at home aren't of this kind. But believe me, boys, they do exist.

In two and a half short years, the country has rolled up its sleeves, and our production record can be heard in the planes that roar over Germany; our War Bond record is built into every tank and destroyer, and the blood banks of the Red Cross are only one of the "musts" on the daily lists of the men and women on the home front.

None of us here can give as much as you. We all know it. That's why there is such a determination to give all we can, in time, spirit, money, work. We believe in you. We know you're good. But you've got to believe in us, too, because the home front is also a fighting front. And because this belief, this unity, brings the day of Victory right up there in plain sight. Unity is the one thing Hitler and his cohorts cannot cope with.

Ernie Pyle, War Correspondent
Pyle many times honored the men of the United States Merchant Marine for the vital, and often heroic, part they have taken in the war effort. Millions of Pyle's GI's have crossed the oceans to the fighting fronts on ships manned by his friends in the Merchant Marine... After helping to successfully establish initial landings, the merchant seamen have continued to bring in the supplies and men that made our advances against the enemy possible.

In referring to the Anzio campaign, Pyle said:

Perhaps the real drama of the Anzio beachhead campaign was the supply system. The supplying of the Fifth Army beachhead was one of the superlative chapters of our Mediterranean war... The beachhead was really like a little island. Everything had to come by water. Without a steady flow of food and ammunition, the beachhead would have perished... Our supplies were unloaded in many ways. Some few ships could go right up to a dock. Others went to nearby beaches. The bigger freight ships had to lie off the harbor and be unloaded into smaller boats, which in turn unloaded onto the docks and beaches. Many branches of the service deserve credit for the supply miracle -- the Navy, the Merchant Marine, the Combat Engineers, the Quartermaster Corps...

The crews of those big freighters were members of the Merchant Marine.

The greatest apprehension I've found in the Anzio-Nettuno area is not among the men ashore... but among the crews of ships that sit out in the Mediterranean, unloading... they are subject to shelling from land and air raids from the sky. their situation, I'll admit, is not an enviable one.

[The name of ERNIE PYLE was assigned to C-4 military-type cargo ship, the United States Maritime Commission announced on Friday, April 27, 1945. The C-4 is a 522-foot ship of 14,600 deadweight tons, cruising radius of 14,000 miles and 9,000 horsepower, one of the Commission's largest ships. Press Release 2247]


Merchant Marine in World War II


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