“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New London in New London County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)

Merchant Marine

Merchant Marine Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, October 9, 2011
1. Merchant Marine Marker
The U.S. Merchant Marine played a crucial role in World War II, transporting supplies, ammunition, and troops across the ocean to the battle front. Even before the United States entered the war, the merchant fleet provided much-needed goods to the English war effort. Only minimally armed, the merchant ships risked attack by torpedoes underwater and bombs and machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft. It is estimated that the Axis powers sank 733 American merchant ships throughout the hostilities.

In 1938 the United States Congress created the U.S. Maritime Service to train licensed and unlicensed merchant marine personnel. The Maritime Service established an officer training school at Fort Trumbull in 1939 and maintained it for the duration of the war. More than 15,000 men graduated from the school during the wartime emergency. Several buildings were added to the complex in the 1940s to meet the demand.

Initially, only licensed officers studied here to refresh their knowledge, but in 1941, training was stepped up and unlicensed men were admitted. The four-month course of instruction prepared officer candidates to become either deck men or engine men. At least fourteen months of sea duty experience were required for enrollment. About half of the men had seen combat.

Once the war ended, fewer merchant marine officers
Marker in Fort Trumbull image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, October 9, 2011
2. Marker in Fort Trumbull
The Life-size figure next to the marker represents a U.S. Merchant Marine officer candidate, c. 1944.
were needed for peacetime service, so the emergency training program at Fort Trumbull ended in 1946.
Erected by Fort Trumbull State Park.
Location. 41° 20.623′ N, 72° 5.591′ W. Marker is in New London, Connecticut, in New London County. Marker can be reached from East Street, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is located inside the fort at Fort Trumbull State Park. Marker is in this post office area: New London CT 06320, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Scientific Research (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Scientific Research (here, next to this marker); Cold War (a few steps from this marker); “Aim, Load, Fire” (a few steps from this marker); Post Civil War to 1910 (a few steps from this marker); Coast Guard (a few steps from this marker); Civil War (a few steps from this marker); The Third System (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in New London.
More about this marker. Three photographs, courtesy of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, appear at the bottom of the marker. On the left is a picture of “Deck officer candidates learn[ing] to handle a barrage balloon. Barrage balloons attached to the ship with steel cables floated above the deck to discourage low-flying airplanes from moving in to bomb or fire on the ship. An enemy plane risked slicing off its wings if it encountered the steel cables at high speed.”
On the right is a photo showing “Deck officer candidates practic[ing] using sextants during navigation class on a simulated ship’s bridge. A basic navigation tool, a sextant measures the angle of the sun above the horizon to determine the location of the ship at sea.”
Below this is a photo of “Engine officer candidates learn[ing] how to test fuel injection equipment.”
Also see . . .  History of Fort Trumbull. Friends of Fort Trumbull. (Submitted on October 16, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
Categories. MilitaryWar, World II
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 387 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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