United States Merchant Marine

From Academic Kids

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US Merchant Marine, WWII, North Atlantic

The United States Merchant Marine is a fleet of ships that is used to transport both imports and exports during peace time and serves as an auxiliary to the United States Navy during times of war, delivering both troops and supplies. The merchant marine is civilian (except in times of war, when they are considered military personnel) governed under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. A Merchant Mariner is a seafarer or mariner in the United States Merchant Marine.

The United States Merchant Marine's first role in war took place in 1775 when a group of Maine mariners boarded an unarmed schooner and captured the British warship HMS Margaretta. The Continental Congress and the various colonies issued Letters of Marque to privately owned, armed merchant ships known as privateers, which were outfitted as warships to prey on enemy merchant ships. They interrupted the British supply chain all along the eastern seaboard of the United States and across the Atlantic Ocean and the Merchant Marine's role in war began. This pre-dates both the United States Coast Guard (1790) and the United States Navy (1797).

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US Merchant Marine, WWII, North Atlantic

Since First World War and World War II, many Merchant Marine officers have also held commissions in the United States Naval Reserve. A special badge, known as the Naval Reserve Merchant Marine Badge, has been in existence since the early 1940s to recognize such Merchant Marine personnel who are called to active duty in the Navy.

In addition there are of course many other national merchant marines or merchant navies. For detailed discussion one would refer to the Honorable Company of Master Mariners London, the Schiffergesellschaft zu Lübeck, the Master Mariners of South Africa, the Federation of Shipmasters in London, the Nautical Institute.

The American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial in San Pedro, California, honors these seamen.

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