QST Cruises with the Maritime Service
July 1944 QST Article
"The United States Maritime Service, abbreviated as USMS, was established in 1938 under the provisions of the
Merchant Marine Act of 1936. The mission of the organization is to train people to become officers and crewmembers
on merchant ships that form the United States Merchant Marine. Heavily utilized during World War II, the USMS has
since been largely dissolved and/or absorbed into other federal departments, but its commissioned officers
continue to function as administrators and instructors at several maritime academies." -
of Contents]These articles are scanned and OCRed from old editions of the
ARRL's QST magazine. Here is a list of the
QST articles I have already posted. As time permits, I will
be glad to scan articles for you. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
out the size of that D/F (direction-finding) loop!
...and what the
heck is a pelorus?
If you have ever been onboard a sea-faring ship,
you would be amazed at the capability of the machine shop - prepared
to fix or replace vitrually anything.
See all available
vintage QST articles.
QST Cruises with the Maritime Service
Life Aboard a Liberty Ship
By Clinton B. Desoto, *W1CBD
* Editor, QST
Are you between 16 and 17-1/2 or
between 26 and 35 and not in uniform? Are you 1-C or mildly 4-F or otherwise ineligible for military service? Are
you interested in a radio operating job in direct support of the war effort?
there's a place for you in the U. S. Maritime Service. If you hold a commercial radiotelegraph second or
higher-grade license, so much the better. But you don't need a ticket to start with; in fact, you don't need any
previous radio training whatsoever. The Maritime Service will train you. It will make a proficient merchant marine
radio operator out of you at one of the nation's finest operator schools - with pay!
This is an opportunity
described several times before in QST. It is time now for the story to be told again. For today the merchant
marine is in greater need of men - and particularly of radiomen - than ever before.
You may have read
recently that U. S. production of merchant shipping is being raised to new highs, with ever-increasing numbers of
new bottoms leaving the ways daily. These ships are needed to carry the gargantuan cargoes of global warfare.
But ships alone don't move cargoes; it takes men to make the ships move - seamen, carpenters, oilers, cooks,
enginemen, machinists and, particularly, radiomen.
Yes - particularly radiomen. Effective July 1st, new
regulations require practically every merchant vessel sailing the seas to carry not less than three qualified
radio operators. Up to now, such ships had only one or two operators aboard. This requirement alone has more than
doubled the number of civilian radio operators needed to man the merchant fleets. Coupled with the increasing
number of ships being commissioned and the usual quota of replacements, the demand for new operators is
So tremendous, in fact, that right now there simply aren't enough qualified men available to
meet it. Even by lowering the license requirements - even by taking men out of the training schools before they
have completed their courses and sending them to sea, letting them acquire the remainder of their training by
apprentice methods - still the WSA manning offices are having difficulty keeping the operator berths filled.
The Maritime Service, although a highly essential part of the nation's war machine, obtains its manpower not from
selective service quotas but through direct recruiting. Merchant mariners aren't drafted; they are volunteers.
Shown on this page are miscellaneous views aboard the American Mariner as recorded by W9AA's persistently
snapping "minnie" camera.
Framed in the mechanistic circle of the d/f [direction-finding] loop, the receding Empire State building appears
as a lonely vestige of shore life.
As the tug comes alongside the deck crew prepares to cast off, hauls aboard the mooring lines.
The signal flags flying from their halyard and the ship's name emblazoned on the main cabin both mean the same
thing - identification. The signal flags display the assigned code identification of the ship for the benefit of
harbor and coastal patrols.
This picture illustrates the kind of work that a radio operator on shipboard does not do. But swabbing isn't bad
duty, at that!
Here again, looking aft on the main deck from the bow, the elaborate multiplicity of detail is apparent. Behind
the row of windows is the wheelhouse on the bridge deck, with the boat deck below and the flying bridge above.
Hooded objects in this and in other views are guns.
This view from the stern, looking forward on the main deck, suggests the complexity of the gear and fittings
which are required aboard a 10,000-ton freighter.
From his vantage point under the ship's bell a "talker" keeps a sharp early-morning look out passing through the
Cape Cod ship canal.
A trainee takes a pelorus
reading on a distant landmark on ashore. Partially concealed behind him is the radio d/f loop
The navigating officer takes a directional bearing on the radio direction-finder. One hand operates the
handwheel controlling the rotatable d/f loop above the deck while the other adjusts the magnetic balance
Inside the radio room aboard the Liberty ship. Both side-by-side operating positions are shown in these two
views. At the left end of the operating table is the high-frequency transmitter, with the low-frequency
transmitter and the emergency set (visible only in the right-hand view) beside it. The auto alarm is on the
bulkhead beside the telephone.
(Above and below)
Deep below-decks is a large and magnificently equipped machine shop capable of producing any repair part
required on shipboard.
"Abandon ship!" As the ship's whistle screams the danger signal in shrill urgency, all hands instantly drop work
and run to their lifeboat stations.
Following a carefully organized plan, two men remove the covering from their boat while it is still in davits.
Meanwhile their shipmates all have assembled at their respective lifeboat stations. The officer in charge calls
the roll to make certain that non one gets left behind.
Leather-lunged officers hurrying them on, the trainees swarm down the scramble nets into the boat.
In the Lundeen boat, the seamen vigorously pump the handles which drive the screw propeller.
It was only a practice drill, after all. At the "Return to Ship" signal the boats head for the ship.
If the smiling faces above seem incongruous in view of the evident fact that there's morning chow on the table,
the explanation lies in the excellent fare served aboard all merchant craft.
Service is cafeteria style, direct from cooking utensil to plate, around the rim of the clean and efficiently
Right now, therefore, the War Shipping Administration is asking for more volunteers. But it isn't the usual
kind of arduous and difficult volunteering assignment they offer - not unless taking one of the country's finest
radio training courses under ideal conditions and being paid while in training is difficult, or unless living and
working on shipboard at $180 a month or more and all found is arduous!
Earlier issues of QST have
presented a picture of the kind of radio operator training given by the U. S. Maritime Service1.
There's no need to repeat the details of that side of it here. The purpose of this story is to show, as viewed
through landlubberly eyes, the other side of the picture - the kind of life that is led on shipboard. It's the
side of the story that comes after the fledgling radio operator has finished his training at the shore station
and, crisp new ticket in hand, steps over the rail into his first seagoing berth.
"QST Visits Gallups Island," QST, June. 1941, p. 9. DeSoto, "QST Returns to Gallups Island," QST, May, 1943, p.
That story is told here at first hand - from actual, if brief, personal experience. At the invitation
of the War Shipping Administration, Cy Read, W9AA, and the writer shipped on the USMS training ship American
Mariner out of New York in middle May. Aboard her we lived the life of the regular crew - sleeping in the
triple-decker bunks of the seamen, standing in the chow line in the crew's mess.
The American Mariner is a
Liberty ship - a 10,000-ton 440-foot freighter of the kind now cruising the sea lanes of the world by the
hundreds. Instead of munitions or GI provisions, however, her usual cargo is men. Aboard her trainees from
Sheepshead Bay and from Gallups Island and the other USMS training stations make training voyages as a preview of
life at sea - the culminating phase of their training.
For this purpose her superstructure has been
somewhat modified and the cargo holds have been converted into classrooms, additional quarters and messrooms for
the trainees. While the normal crew on a Liberty ship numbers 68, the American Mariner has a permanent complement
of 138 men. On the shakedown cruises as many as 400 trainees can be accommodated aboard - quartered, fed, and
given a thorough dose of actual shipboard experience.
The early morning air was clammy and chill along the New York waterfront when we embarked, presaging an
unseasonal late-May frost that was to blacken New England Victory gardens. Mist lay low and gray over the East
River as the armed guard passed us through the iron-barred gate to Pier 73.
We clambered up the sharply
slanted gangplank to the deck. There the master-at-arms checked our credentials, logged us aboard, and handed us
a key ring with two keys and a numbered metal tag. Then, trailing a petty officer assigned as our guide, we filed
down a complicated series of companionways into what seemed the bowels of the ship - an intricate maze that
resolved itself into a memorizable pattern only hours later.
That, in fact, was the most striking initial
impression of the interior of the ship. So complex is its arrangement - with every foot of space utilized, the
whole divided into innumerable interlocking compartments any one or all of
which can be isolated by "W.T."
(watertight) doors - that learning one's way around is an habituating process resembling orienting oneself in a
Arriving at the trainee's quarters, we were assigned lockers and given our choice of
bunks "sacks" or "bags" on shipboard. There was ample space, we found, for all wardrobe and personal effects in
the 6-foot lockers, which include a separate locked compartment for stowage of valuables.
Our gear stowed,
we traced our way back up to the main deck. The deck crew was making preparations for shoving off. Near the stern,
booms and winches transferred boxes of supplies from the dock to the dry-cargo hold. Trainees dressed in work
dungarees which evidenced the toil their wearers already had performed at the training stations scurried around
the ship - stowing cargo, coiling lines, arranging gear, and carrying assorted buckets of white and red and the
ubiquitous blue-gray paint which covers all of the visible exterior of the ship.
Industrious though they
were, some of the trainees were not unwilling to pause for a moment's rag-chew. Many had never been to sea before.
To most of them, we learned, the ship was an unexplored novelty. Some of them had never before been aboard an
ocean-going vessel of any kind, much less a Liberty ship. The majority as we already knew from recruiting
statistics were dry-land recruits having their first taste of salt water. .
To them this was the Great
Adventure - or the first leg of it, at least. There was the redcheeked railroad fireman from Ohio, filled with
pride at the edge his shore trade gave him over his mates in the engine room - a pride undimned by a subsequent
slight seasickness. There was the filling-station attendant from New Jersey whose erstwhile ambition to be a
garage mechanic had faded in the light of a new love - a 20-mm. antiaircraft gun. There was the well-bred,
likeable lad from Pennsylvania who was wholly content in the menial role of wardroom attendant. And there was the
tough kid from South Chicago who wrestled cargo all the more vigorously while growling about how hard he had to
Overhead the sky began to lighten. Gradually the mist rolled
back along the river. By two bells (0900) there was enough light for a Weston reading of 25 on W9AA's light
meter. From then on the day brightened rapidly - a full stop every few minutes.
At 0950 a rope ladder was
lowered and the harbor pilot climbed aboard. Soon a tugboat came puffing down the harbor. It veered sharply and
pulled alongside near our bow, and a weighted line called a "heaving line" was tossed aboard. This line was bent
to a heavy hawser. The deck crew pulled up the hawser and made its huge eye fast to a deck bitt. A few minutes
later a second tugboat, churning up from the lower harbor, plowed over to Pier 73 at the head of an iridescent
path of wake.
The next twenty minutes were -filled with thc mysterious maneuverings characteristic of
tugboats and harbor pilots, always inexplicable to the landsman. Finally, as though all the preliminary false
starts, shifting of hook-ups and backings and fillings had been only to kill time, the tugs eased the big ship out
into the channel and headed her upstream. The engine-room telegraph clanged cheerily; the big triple-expansion
steam engine engaged the 200-foot propeller drive shaft located in the shaft alley deep down near the keel, and we
got under way.
One tugboat scuttled off to another job. The other, captained by a one-armed salt with
Popeye cap and pipe, convoyed us up the river, chugging along near our stern like a happy puppy at heel. Farther
up the river, where the channel narrows, the tug came up amidships on the port side and a hawser again was fed up
to our main deck. Thereafter the tug, its own propeller idle, caught a free ride snuggled against our hull
serving as a sea anchor against the pull of the outgoing tide until we had passed through the Narrows.
A Seagoing Community
It was time now to get acquainted with our temporary new home afloat. We explored the ship from stem to
stern - a proceeding occupying the remainder of the day.
By comparison with shore-borne structures, the
ship could be described as a combination warehouse and office building seven stories high. The main deck is, of
course, the largest; those below become narrower and shorter with the taper of the ship's hull, while those above
are stepped back like the upper stories of a skyscraper.
Under the main deck are several huge cargo
compartments, the fuel and fresh-water tanks, engine room, canteen, trainees' quarters, messrooms, kitchens, etc.
Above the main deck rise, in order, the boat deck, the bridge deck, and the flying bridge - the "roof" of the
Distributed throughout the enclosed portions of these upper decks are the quarters and messrooms for
the officers and permanent crew. There are four classifications of quarters on the ship - apart, of course, from
those of the captain, who occupies private quarters. The officers have individual private rooms, the CPOs (chief
petty officers) have smaller single rooms, the ratings (specialists 1st, 2nd and 3rd class) are quartered in
groups of two to four to a room, and the seamen ordinary and AB (able-bodied) - occupy tripletier bunks stacked
two wide and three deep. These bunks are basically iron-tube frames from which flat springs and mattresses are
Members of the radio crew aboard a Liberty ship, incidentally, have private quarters of their own.
The chief ordinarily has a room adjacent to the radio shack up on the boat deck - just down the passageway from
the captain's quarters, in fact. The other two operators usually share a comfortable room in the section assigned
Housed on the main deck is the varied miscellany of other establishments required in a
selfsufficient seagoing community. There is a row of general offices for the extensive administrative and paper
work required - including a separate mimeograph room. There are the sick bay, the doctor's and dentist's offices
and laboratories, a photographic darkroom, a barber shop (haircuts 25 cents), a tailor shop and a cobbler's shop
(no shines!). There is even a spacious auditorium where recreational activities are centered - feature-length
movies being shown every night. Also in the line of recreation, space for athletic sports activities is provided
in the hold for pingpong tables, a boxing arena and even a basketball court.
Forward on the bridge deck is
the wheel house, with its large windows, windshield-wiper equipped, facing toward the bow. There the wheelsman on
watch manipulates a large central steering wheel which, through a hydraulic system, controls the main steering
engine - a small reversible steam engine in the stern whose spider-leg connecting rods actuate the huge
springbalanced quadrant gear on the rudder post through step-down gears. Alongside the wheelman, a standby
helmsman is also on watch at a smaller auxiliary wheel. This wheel controls an electric motor which can replace
the hydraulic control. While this auxiliary system may be used manually if the hydraulic system fails, the
electric rudder drive also connects to the "iron mike" or automatic pilot. In conjunction with the indicating
gyrocompass it can be used to steer the ship fully automatically, keeping her headed exactly on any predetermined
The instrumentation on a Liberty ship is elaborate and comprehensive. Apart from the gyrocompass
and the usual magnetic compasses, peloruses and other devices commonly associated with maritime navigation, there
are ink-graphic recorders maintaining continuous records of data ranging from engine r.p.m. to depth soundings.
Even the ocean temperature is recorded, and a complete outfit of meteorological instruments is provided in a
cabinet on the flying bridge.
In the wheelhouse a large pigeon-holed rack holds a complete set of
international signaling flags, all neatly rolled and ticketed. In addition to the helmsman and his alternate, this
room normally is occupied by a petty officer in charge of the wheel detail and, of course, the ship's officer on
watch. Also present is a " talker ' - a seaman equipped with headphones and breast-mike connected to an interphone
circuit which links the bridge, the crow's nest, and all gun positions. There are talkers constantly on duty at
each of these positions while the ship is under way.
In addition to the interphone system, two other
methods of intra-shipboard communication are provided. One is a regular magneto-ringing walltype telephone
circuit, with" subscriber's" positions liberally distributed throughout the ship including several convenient
points on deck. The other is a general loudspeaker call system used to announce general orders, ship's time, mess
calls, watch changes and the like. Speakers attached to this system infest the ship from the holds to the flying
bridge, including the wardroom and all messrooms, ensuring that no hand aboard can fail to hear an order.
Directly aft of the wheelhouse is the navigator's domain. Here the radio compass installation is located,
its d/f loop projecting up into the open overhead on the flying bridge. In this room also are additional recording
instruments and the control board for the degaussing system. A large switch- and meter-panel is required for the
degaussing apparatus alone. In a smaller adjacent room is located the fire-protection control equipment - an
intricate arrangement incorporating two complete thermally operated automatic systems and the associated manual
The protective equipment provided is impressive in its scope and comprehensiveness. Coupled with
the extensive compartmentation, the fireprotection systems make it possible for a ship to suffer incredible
damage and still remain afloat. Tales are told of freighters which have suffered two or three direct torpedo hits,
with holes below the waterline big enough to drive a car through, and yet have sailed back across the Atlantic
under their own power.
Further aft, still other separate rooms are used for specialized functions - among
them the chart-storage room, the hydro room and, of course, the radio room.
The Radio Shack
The most notable impression on an initial viewing of the radio shack is one of neatness, convenience and comfort.
Compactly arranged, as is everything aboard a Liberty ship, all units- even the auto alarm and the power-input
panel - are arranged for maximum accessibility from the main operating position.
The radio room is
approximately eight feet wide by twelve long. The operating table extends throughout the length of one side,
divided up for the two operating positions with built-in typewriter wells. The transmitters are wall-mounted
above the table, the high-frequency unit at the far end and the low-frequency rigs at the center. The auto alarm
and the power-input panel are installed on the end wall. Comfortable office-type swivel chairs are provided for
the operator. Opposite the operating table there is a comfortable leather-upholstered couch - obviously, a welcome
accessory during long-watch vigils.
Aboard the American Mariner the radio equipment is RCA throughout. The
basic layout is entirely standard, corresponding with that aboard other Liberty ships in actual cargo service.
Three transmitters are provided - a 200-watt ET-8010- CA, optionally m.o.p.a. or crystal-controlled, with eight
pretuned frequencies in the 355-500 kc. range, an ET-8019-A covering 2 to 22 Mc. in eight bands, also of 200-watt
rating, and an auxiliary emergency battery-powered transmitter for the 375- to 500-kc. range.
receiving equipment at each operating position consists of an AR-8503 - a 4-tube t.r.f. receiver covering 15 to
600 kc. in four bands, switch selected - and an AR-8505 for 540 kc. to 30 Mc. - a transformerless 7-tube
superheterodyne closely resembling the National NC-44.
Also aboard is an AR-8600 automatic radio alarm.
Used when the operator is off watch or listening on another frequency at the alternate operating position, the
auto alarm rings a loud bell and lights warning lights notifying whenever an international distress signal is
received. Its installation aboard all merchant marine craft is required by FCC regulation. The auto alarm consists
essentially of a superheterodyne receiver with two 1100-kc. wide-band-pass i.f. stages designed to produce uniform
response from any 500-mv. or stronger signal of a frequency within plus or minus 12.5 kc, from 500 kc, (the
international distress frequency). Associated with this receiver, is a timing circuit employing three sequence
relay tubes and a stepping selector designed to operate only when a series of dashes of a certain length and
interval - the prescribed auto alarm signal, transmitted along with an SOS - is received.
There is, of
course, nothing new about the auto alarm; it has been in regular use for more than a decade and has greatly
enhanced the cause of safety at sea. But even the auto alarm, effective though it may be, does not equal the
effectiveness of an actual operator on watch. In time of war, of course, the need for infallible guarding of
distress frequencies is vital - and this emphasizes all the more the need for additional radio operators to sail
in the vast fleets of Liberty and Victory ships.
In the first dangerous years of this war more than five
thousand merchant seamen gave their lives for their country. Now, of course, sinkings at sea, even in the most
active theaters, are comparatively rare. The U. S. Navy's intensive anti-submarine campaign and the present
patrolling and convoy operations have vastly reduced the danger from the submarine menace.
unescorted, our merchant ships are far from defenseless. They bristle with stingers calculated to discourage any
enemy attacks, whether by sea or by air. Liberty ships literally are speckled with guns. On the American Mariner
there are gun platforms everywhere, carrying weapons ranging from .50-cal. machine guns to deadly 20-mm. Oerlikon
antiaircraft cannon and murderous 3-inch guns which can throw twenty-five 10-lb. shells per minute at ranges of
10,000 to 13,000 yards.
A convincing demonstration of the speed and safety of modern
"abandon ship" technique was staged during our cruise on the American Mariner. It was a part of the regular
training given every Maritime Service trainee, at first in school as a simulated exercise, later employing actual
lifeboats, and culminating with the surprise lifeboat drill on the shakedown cruise.
The surprise drill we
witnessed was entirely unannounced and unrehearsed. At exactly 0912 one morning the ship's whistle blew a series
of short blasts followed by a long one - the " Abandon ship!" signal. Promptly all hands came running to the main
deck from their usual duties everywhere in the ship and assembled around their assigned lifeboat stations, each
man grabbing a fluffy-cushioned orange-colored life vest from an adjacent locker as he arrived topside. Within
seconds the main deck was covered with shifting clusters of orange-festooned figures.
While the officer in
charge of each contingent checked off his roster, designated men climbed from the higher boat deck into the
lifeboats slung high in their davits. Swiftly they stripped the boats of coverings and lashings. Below, other
groups manned the hoists, inserting the large cranks and releasing the brakes holding the cables. Still others
unrolled the scramble nets, ready to lower them over the side for the men to swarm down into the waiting boats.
The men above signaled "clear" and the command was given: "Lower away!" Hoists clanking, the bluish-gray boats
were swiftly lowered until their keels hung suspended just beyond reach of the lapping waves. Heaving the scramble
nets over the rail, the seamen promptly clambered down into the boats.
When all were aboard except the
hoist crew and the officer in charge, the boat was lowered down into the water. As the last man scrambled down the
net the releasing hooks from the davit falls were cast loose from the shackles.
In this practice drill the
first boat was in the water and clear of the ship within less than five minutes after the alarm whistle blew. The
remaining crews followed in varying brief intervals after. For inexperienced lads, many of them afloat on salt
water for the very first time, it was an excellent performance.
Two types of lifeboats were used ill this
drill - one the accustomed oar-propelled 35-man surf boat, the other the 70-man manually driven screw-propelled
"Lundeen" boat which now is also standard equipment. This boat, which is driven by the backward and forward
manipulation of two rows of vertical wooden shafts connected by a ratchet linkage to a central shaft driving a
screw propeller, has displaced the older oar-pulled boats. Its prime advantage is that no special rowing skill is
required, a desirable feature in choppy seas when inexperienced oarsmen would, by catching crabs or rowing in the
air, waste a substantial portion of their energy. After all, no special skill is required to push a lever back and
forth. Another advantage is that, depending on the number of men in a boat, from one to four men can operate a
Also aboard the American Mariner, although not used in the drill, was a self-bailing,
self-righting power lifeboat larger even than the Lundeen boats, equipped with a 4-cylinder Diesel engine, and the
still-larger captain's gig - the latter actually a good-sized power yacht with a 6-cylinder Diesel engine and a
speed of better than 15 knots.
In anyone of these craft a seaman could abandon ship with full confidence
in its seaworthiness and security. He might get cramped and weary and sunburned and seasick, and even hungry and
thirsty - but he'd survive.
One minor observation in connection with that lifeboat drill was the
surefootedness with which the trainees swarmed down the scramble nets draped down the sides of the ship. They
behaved as though they'd lived all their lives in rigging,
Actually, as we ourselves discovered, that kind of skill is acquired quickly on shipboard. Remember that a
ship is equivalent to a seven-story building - with no elevators. (Technically it has no "stairways," either - and
that's approximately as true in fact as it is from the standpoint of nautical terminology! To conserve deck space,
many of the companionways more nearly resemble wide-stepped ladders than they do stairways.) Consequently, on
shipboard you seem to travel as far vertically as you do horizontally in the course of a day's activities. And,
even though iron-runged ladders have replaced the traditional rope rigging, their use engenders a high order of
agility and surefootedness.
Eat, Sleep and Be Healthy
At the outset, of course,
it's a. bit rigorous. But that quickly passes as unused muscles harden. It's wonderful body-building exercise -
and a wonderful appetite-builder, too!
And when it comes to sleeping ... well, no one rebels when, at four
bells on the evening watch (2200), the loudspeaker blares: "Secure the decks! All hands in your bunks. Lights
The combination of sea air and hard work makes that sack look mighty inviting. And it's even more
inviting when you slide between the clean white sheets. The slung mattress is-soft and accommodating - more
comfortable by far than an Army cot or a hard-drawn hotel bed. By comparison with a Pullman berth, travel on a
Liberty ship is rare luxury. Missing are the bumps and jerks, the rattle and vibration of the train; the
functioning of the powerful triple-expansion engine is apparent only as a low, pleasantly pitched background bum
that reassures rather than disturbs. And even in moderate seas the big ship keeps a steady deck; its rocking,
combined with the threnody of the engine, is no more than a lullaby.
The adage about salt air inspiring ravenous appetites is proved whenever chow time comes around.
Fortunately, the mess standards in the Maritime Service are more than equal to the occasion. The food is
surprisingly diversified and ample. By any standard - at sea or ashore - it is well-prepared, savory and
During our explorations aboard the American Mariner we invaded the refrigerated meat storage
chamber. A large room fully twenty feet square, it contained meat stores in quantities many a large wholesale
distributor would covet these days. Sides of beef hung in closely spaced rows - dozens and dozens of them. Lockers
were filled with assorted cuts and prepared meats of every variety and description. Vegetable bins and other
staple food storage was on a similarly abundant - not to say gourmandish! - scale.
And those desserts! For
W9AA and W1GBD, both with an already decided tendency toward fullness of figure, they were as irresistibly
insidious concoctions as galley alchemy ever produced. The pastry chef aboard the American Mariner was a lad only
twenty years old, but he must have lived all his premaritime life in intensive training at his mother's kitchen
stove. That time at evening chow we wangled three pieces of chocolate pie . . . !
All in all, the life of a radio operator in the U. s. Maritime Service is a mighty attractive proposition for
anyone who knows (or is capable of learning) how to read the code and write up a log and maybe send a little.
Travel, adventure, healthful and rewarding living, good companionship - and, above all, a real wartime job of
What to Do
Are you interested - or do you know of someone who would or should be?
Here's what to do:
If you've had no previous radio experience, apply at the nearest U. S. Maritime Service
enrolling office or U. S. Employment Service office. If your preliminary background includes an operator's
license, or if you cannot locate one of the USMS or USES offices in your vicinity, write directly to the War
Shipping Administration, Training Organization, National Theater Building, Washington 25, D. C., stating your
qualifications and experience. If you are among those who hold an expired or unexpired marine operator's license,
you may wire the Recruitment and Manning Organization, War Shipping Administration, Washington 25, D. C., collect.
And you can expect immediate action, mate!
Of course, if you're in the lower age bracket from 16 to 17
1/2,you have no draft status. Requests for selective service deferments for men 26 to 35 are made directly to
local boards by the Maritime Service for men accepted for training.
Upon acceptance, as fast as, quotas
can be made up you'll be ordered to school - and your training pay ($50 a month) will begin. Six weeks will be
spent at a Maritime Service apprentice seaman training station where the seagoing knowledge necessary for all
shipboard ratings will be learned. Then you will be assigned either to Hoffman Island or Gallups Island for the
last twenty-one weeks of the course.
If you can qualify for a temporary limited second- class operator
license, you will probably be sent right out to sea. (This temporary second, all previously noted in QST,2
is the easiest class of commercial license to get. In fact, it is less difficult in some respects than a Class B
ham ticket. The code test is the usual sixteen code groups per minute, but only a 50 per cent passing mark on the
regular FCC second-class radiotelegraph exam is required. If you've ever ,before held a first- or second-class
radiotelegraph ticket, only the code test without written examination is necessary.)
Base pay starts at
$180 a month, plus a bonus. Considering that living quarters and food are provided, this pay is easily equivalent
to a shore job at $300 a month or more. And don't forget that radio operators are ship's officers and wear
uniforms with appropriate insignia.
Bon voyage, OM - and smooth sailing!
Happenings of the Month, QST, June. 1944, p. 25,