12th February 2008, 14:22
Another great shipping company now defunct.
During July 1969 the container ship AMERICAN ASTRONAUT made her maiden voyage.
Prior to her arrival at Tilbury on the 13th,a huge marquee was erected on 40 Quay..
The first man on the moon Neil Armstrong,boarded the ship off Dover and on arriving at Tilbury was greeted by a large crowd of VIPs from the shipping world and a brass band..
A reception was held in the marquee in his honour..
We riggers worked all through the night securing containers and she sailed the following day..
A rule with that company at the time was that all dunnage be removed from the ship after discharge of general cargo.New dunnage was used when loading a return cargo.. Bribery comes to mind!!
12th February 2008, 18:01
United States Lines got started when the previous operator of the War Shipping Agency ships (around 1919) was losing money. The charter (the US Govt) required that new dunnage be used.
I worked on United States Lines vessels as a cadet and later as a First Assistant Engineer. While on the container ships in the early 70's the use of dunnage was not required. But when I sailed on The American Champion which was a stick ship and the dunnage was required to be new due to the charter aggreement. (The charter did not want the bombs to move due to a nail popping out from reused wood).
I sailed on a few stick ships (Waterman, Grace Brothers and Mormac) and they all had the same charter terms. The bosun would collect all of the nice pieces of wood built some nice pieces for the Captain and Chief Engineer and sell the remaining wood. On the far east run the dunnage was Philippine mahogany.
While the dunnage was new in the cargo hold and on some of the deck cargo. The pathways across the deck cargo were anything but new wood. On the later half of the voyage the pathways became loose and a adventure just to take the fuel soundings.
[=P] I was working for Mormac when USL bought them out. Toward the end some one in the office send the ship USL stationary but United was spell wrong. So I am forever remembering USL as Untied States Lines with the fine bird embosed on the stationary.
12th February 2008, 18:43
Thanks for that explanation Chief..
Many tons of dunnage was landed from USL ships in Tilbury - denailed and sold on to other companies - a good business..
13th February 2008, 07:00
You are most welcome
7th May 2008, 08:23
Remember all those stories about Captain McManus, etc .........
7th May 2008, 08:32
United States Lines are credited with, (or blamed for) the docker's system of "working the welt* in Liverpool.
During the war, US Lines insisted that their ships discharging in Liverpool were worked without any tea breaks, so the welt was introduced whereby only half the holdsmen worked and the other half sat in the canteen, (or pub). They changed over every hour. The welt continued throughout the port until the seventies.
7th May 2008, 19:42
I was on the American Champion for a sixty day relief trip. Captain Mc Manus told me that they could not contact the regular First Assistant Engineer when I called the First Assistant at home he told me that Mc Manus told him that I wanted to stay since the ship was on foreign articles. Normally I would not mind the extra time onboard a ship but me and the misses were expecting our first child. The hospital required parenting classes and the class starting date was fast approaching. After a number of promises to get me off the ship. The first promise was to get off at Diego Garcia we left the morning of the re-pate flight. The next Mc Manus promise I was to get off while at Subic Bay. When I called the regular First no travel arrangements were made for him. It wasn't until a friend (Bishop) met Captain Mc Manus at a function at the Seamen Church Institute after a few choice words the regular First was flown to Subic Bay. We left the morning the plane landed with the regular first after a month at the dock discharging ammo. A week later I got off the ship at Okinawa after being onboard for 103 days. Parenting class started the day after I got home.
8th May 2008, 03:00
Sounds just like Black Mac.... If you wanted to get off, you stay... or vise versa.
30th March 2009, 16:26
My only experience with U.S. Lines was in 1982 on the SS American Marketer. She had been the Austral Ensign, and was subsequently renamed the Sealand Expedition and, later, the Horizon Fairbanks. She could do 24 knots and ran an 82-day schedule from the East Coast to the West Coast and the Far East. There were two captains, who relieved each other in New York at the end of every voyage. One of them was the "Commodore of U.S. Lines", as he made a point of informing us as soon as he came aboard.
The two captains loathed each other and, so far as I am aware, never even exchanged a word. My favorite story about them concerned the time one of them bought a barbecue with his own money, with which he used to have cook-outs for the ship's crew at sea. When the "Commodore" returned and saw it he pronounced it a fire hazard and had it thrown overboard. That was U.S. line!
15th January 2010, 00:40
United States Lines are credited with, (or blamed for) the docker's system of "working the welt* in Liverpool.During the war, US Lines insisted that their ships discharging in Liverpool were worked without any tea breaks, so the welt was introduced whereby only half the holdsmen worked and the other half sat in the canteen, (or pub). They changed over every hour. The welt continued throughout the port until the seventies.Pat
Remember coming into Liverpool in 1979 dockers still worked it only it changed that half worked the afternoon shift one day then the morning shift next day then other half came on in the afternoon.
The chief mate said that he was not having that went down and told them he would not have it, next thing coats on and off they walked refusing to work the ship.
The old man asked me and the 3E to go and see if they would return as we both came from Merseyside, after couple of hours they relented only if the mate apologised and did not set foot on deck whilst they were working.
15th January 2010, 18:36
At the time I was sailing with U.S. Lines there was a new requirement that all U.S. merchant vessels had to have an ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aid) on the bridge. The company didn't want to take the ship out of service long enough to have the thing installed, so they chose simply to read the requirement literally. The new ARPA duly arrived on the bridge - in a big wooden crate lashed to the forward bulkhead in the middle of the wheelhouse! We sailed like that all the way from the East Coast to the Far East and back. Far from being a collision avoidance aid, the thing actually proved to be a collision hazard because we mates were constantly bashing into it in the dark during our night watches.
7th June 2010, 20:56
I was a naval architect for Mormac when US Lines bought them out. For some reason, they kept me and I was amazed, amused and a little frightened by the odd blend of the old and new - the remnants of the original US Lines and the new McLean regime.
The VP of Operations was an attorney from Salt Lake City, by way of Washington D.C., whose marine background consisted of marrying McLean's daughter. Captain McManus and Ray McPhail more or less kept him out of trouble. Very strange environment. I was always happy to get out of the office and spend time with the ships in the yards.