Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Naval, Merchant Marine Interest: See also our posts of 9/27/2012 through 9/30/2012 on the same subject

To 126,000 American Merchant Seamen John McCain is the new Jane Fonda


Tug Boats At Deck

Among the many contributions that the Jones Act Fleet makes to the security of the United States and to our Merchant Marine in particular is simply the production of trained merchant seamen. Today many graduates of America's one federal and four state Merchant Marine Academies do not make their careers at sea as traditional Merchant Marine Officers but more generally serve as officers in the Armed Forces, or pursue graduate degrees in related fields like admiralty law and naval architecture. Both the domestic fleet (Jones Act protected) and the international fleet (now shrunken down to about 200 ships) must have competent deck and engineering officers and experienced and skilled able seamen. The Jones Act fleet with its junior colleges, technical schools, union schools, and  apprenticeship programs keep both the international and domestic fleet supplied with skilled labor. When the U.S. International  fleet descends to near oblivion due to foreign competition, professional civilian mariners take refuge in the Jones Act protected domestic fleet. There they find employment and a continuation of professional experience and continuing training experience. The U.S. Merchant Marine labor force is made up of officers and seamen certified or licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and dedicated by statute as a "Naval Auxiliary" The U.S. Merchant Marine has answered the call to transport bullets, beans, equipment, and troops into harm's way in every war including the one that senator McCain is most familiar with personally. In the Vietnam war American Merchant Mariners were killed in action, some gained their initial experience in the Jones Act fleet and some were actually Jones Act tugboat men pressed into Vietnam riverine and coast wise service along with their vessels.

USS Card (CVE-11)

 Their names do not appear on the Vietnam memorial wall but U.S. Merchant Mariners were among the first to die in Vietnam military action. The USNS CARD was a former WWII era air craft carrier that had been decommissioned and entered into Military Sealift Command service as an aircraft transporter. The CARD was manned at the pertinent time by "Civilian Mariners" in the employ of the MSTS, in short the crew consisted of U.S. Merchant Mariners. The original crew of 900 Navy sailors had been replaced by 74 Merchant Mariners. On the morning of May 2, 1964 in the Port of Saigon the CARD was sent to the bottom by Viet Cong sappers and became the first U.S. Merchant Marine casualty of the Vietnam war, three months before the famed USS MADDOX incident which drew front page ink and network media time. Very little of the incident was described in the news media of the day. It is believed that casualties were "light" with some of the crew ashore. We do know that the seriously injured included Merchant mariner Raymond Arbon on the quarter deck at the time of the explosion, and Merchant Mariner (engine department) john McDonald who was at the boiler control panel at the time of the explosion. The Vietnam sea lift effort would eventually engage over 557 U.S .flag merchant vessels many had to be chartered from private sources or brought out of mothballs. Only serious movement of seamen from the Jones Act fleet could account for our ability to man so many transports on short order. Many of the 74 crewmen and officers of the converted USN/MSTS CARD came over directly from domestic tug and barge work and protected coast wise shipping. Some normally Jones act vessels like the tug MICHAEL were pressed directly into military support service. Mate James Almony of the Tug MICHAEL was killed in service to the Navy in Vietnam. His name is no where on the wall of the Vietnam memorial. Neither are the names of Engineering Officer Raymond Barrett of the tanker SS BATON ROUGE, and no one is looking for Ordinary Seaman Ruben Bailon missing off the EXPRESS BALTIMORE since 1965, the U.S Merchant Marine's last MIA from Vietnam. The name of Merchant Mariner Earnie Goo killed on board the SS TRANSCLOBE on the last day of August 1968. No where is there a memorial to the 26 crewmen who died aboard the SS BADGER STATE when the ship foundered on December 26, 1969 after a cargo of bombs broke lose and detonated on board. The records are incomplete but at least 44 American Merchant Mariners died supporting the logistic efforts of the Vietnam war and , many had been trained in the Jones Act fleet, one was actually on a tug, and none have been officially remembered by their nation. 

Now we have to endure a U.S. Senator, a POW in that same war insulting and demeaning the service of our Merchant Marine brothers, endangering our jobs, endangering the future possibility of utilizing the Merchant Marine as a naval auxiliary, and insulting the the memory of our sacred dead.

OK, Senator McCain you would not see the National Mariners Association when it came to you. But all you have to do to respond to us is use the comment box.   YOU TELL US WHY THE 126,000 AMERICAN JONES ACT SEAMEN SHOULD NOT VIEW YOU AS OUR VERSION OF JANE FONDA. Apologize and reverse your position, or defend it in print. Just use the "COMMENT BOX" at the bottom of this article. But we will no longer tolerate your direct attacks on our livelihoods or reputations, and we damn sure won't tolerate insults like having our national defense/security, or economic contributions called "laughable". You are now our Jane Fonda use the comment section to see if you can improve your reputation with us. Or just do what Jane does and ignore the injury you have caused because you think that you know more than the entire maritime industry, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and our 126,000 professional mariners combined and who you just dismissed as "laughable". If you are any different from Jane Fonda, prove it, use the Comment block and write it yourself, don't give the task to some dismissive uninformed yuppie staffer, that's probably the source of your views on the Jones Act anyway.  


  1. I accidentally bumped into this website and find it extremely well-written and interesting.

    I served in the Coast Guard in the sixties and seventies as Shipping Commissioner for the ports of San Pedro, New Orleans, Port Arthur, TX, and Portland, OR. Judging from the comments in this blog, we may need to reactivate that office to look after the interests of merchant seamen sailing today!

    I was particularly intrigued about the reference to the 26 seamen aboard the SS Badger State, lost while carrying bombs to Vietnam--my book, Sailing into the Abyss, chronicles that
    fateful voyage in detail. These seamen died in the line of duty involving a war we were all involved in; they were serving their country in the same valiant way that our military forces did; but where is there sacrifice recognized. the loss of those 26 seamen should be treated in the same fashion as the loss of others involved in the defense of this country!
    Bill Benedetto

    1. Thank you for your comment. We point out to readers that Mr. Benedetto's book SAILING INTO THE ABYSS was a 2006 Maritime Literature Award winner. We have a link to it in our Merchant Marine Interest section. We have not yet produced a book review but will shortly. We found a very short account of the loss of the BADGER STATE in a periodical as part of our research for the posting Mr. Benedetto refers to in his comment. Our interest in the book is high.