From Seaman to Third Mate in Four Months

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Fort Trumbull parade ground

Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

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Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library

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From TrumbullogMay 11, 1944

     The U.S. Maritime Service operated New London’s officer training school and a similar one in Alameda, California. It was originally established for licensed Merchant Marine officers “who wanted to brush up on their knowledge and better equip themselves for sea service,” according to Mast Magazine for May, 1944.  The New London program was later expanded to enroll experienced seamen as officer candidates and earn the rank of Third Mate or Third Assistant Engineer in four months.  At its peak the school was training upwards of 2,000 students at a time.  More than 20,000 men enrolled, and over 15,000 earned their license in either the Deck or Engine category.

     With a colorful maritime history dating back to its founding by John Winthrop, Jr., in 1646, New London took pride in the new training school which almost overnight had become vital to the nation's war effort.  Mayor L. B. Doane's National Maritime Day proclamation (see below) appeared in the May 11, 1944, Trumbullog, paying tribute to New London's Moses Rogers, captain of the hybrid sail and steam vessel Savannah, the first ship to use steam power in a transatlantic crossing. The May 22 date for National Maritime Day commemorates the departure of Savannah from its namesake city in 1819.

     Thus, the Fort Trumbull school and its counterpart in California joined the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point and the five state maritime academies to produce an officer corps for the sharply expanding Merchant Marine.  By war's end nearly 32,000 officers had graduated from the academies and the two training programs.


     Note: Many of the images and much of the information presented here have been taken from issues of the school magazine, Trumbullog, in the library collection. Trumbullog was an unofficial, twice-monthly publication carrying news of school events, interviews, visiting dignitaries, and sports scores, along with shipping line ads, poems, a chaplain’s page, and cartoons.  News of the war was rare in these pages, however, being readily available in daily papers and weekly news magazines such as Time, Life, and Newsweek, then an indispensable part of our national life.

     Material has also been obtained from The Mast Magazine, a monthly published from 1944 to 1951 for members of the U.S. Maritime Service.