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." -
July 1944 QST
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. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
out the size of that D/F (direction-finding)
...and what the heck is a
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,
* 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
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.
alone don't move cargoes; it takes men to make the ships move - seamen,
carpenters, oilers, cooks, enginemen, machinists and, particularly,
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 tremendous.
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
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
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
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
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
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 arranged galley.
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.
1 Rodimon, "QST Visits Gallups Island," QST, June. 1941,
p. 9. DeSoto, "QST Returns to Gallups Island," QST, May, 1943, p. 14.
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 strange community.
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 sweat.
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
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.
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 ship.
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
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 to "ratings."
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 course.
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.
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 controls.
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
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.
The dual 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
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 -
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.
Even when 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
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.
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
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.
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 single lever.
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,
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
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 out!"
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 wholesome.
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, 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 first-line importance.
What to Do
Are you interested - or do you
know of someone who would or should be? Here's what to do:
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
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!
2 Happenings of the Month,
QST, June. 1944, p. 25,