The U.S. Merchant Marine
marine is collectively those civilian crewmen and officers sailing a
fleet of commercial, non-naval ships that carry
cargo, passengers or provide maritime services. Merchant
mariners move between nations and within the United States, and operate and
maintain deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, dredges,
excursion vessels, charter boats and other waterborne craft.
War II the ships and men of the United States merchant marine transported vast
quantities of war materiel, supplies, equipment and troops needed to fight and
win that war. The Pacific Ocean was a major strategic battle zone
during World War II and when Japan declared war on the US, the West Coast
offered easy pickings of merchant ships. The
men of the U.S. merchant marine were civilian volunteers who nonetheless died in
numbers that rivaled or exceeded any branch of the uniformed military.
A total of 51 ships were damaged or sunk in Alaskan waters alone.
Like the U.S. Navy Armed Guard with whom they
sailed, the men of the U.S. merchant marine helped make possible the Allied
victory in World War II.