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
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
QST, published December 1915 - present. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
out the size of that D/F
...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.
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
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
But ships alone don't move cargoes; it takes
men to make the ships move - seamen, carpenters, oilers, cooks,
enginemen, machinists and, particularly, radiomen.
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
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"
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
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 balance control.
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 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
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.
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 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
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 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 are slung.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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
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 single lever.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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 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:
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.
voyage, OM - and smooth sailing!
of the Month, QST, June. 1944, p. 25,