Incident from McPhee’s “Looking for a Ship”

I forgot I had this book and flipped through it for the first time in years. In one section he mentions that in the 80’s someone once walked aboard a Waterman ship in a US port, held the Master up at gunpoint, robbed the safe and then shot and killed him without ever being caught.

Does anyone here know the incident in question or heard about it? I have known many old Waterman guys over the years and none of them have any recollection of a Master being murdered in the US while working cargo, unless it was never spoken of much.

Oddly enough I had just dug up my copy of this book a couple days before this thread appeared.

IDK about the story of the murder but taking the book as a whole it doesn’t seem everything in it could be true.

Review here:The Misunderstood Mariner: Mariners In Review: Looking For A Ship


No specifics. But about that time I sailed with a Captain who was incredibly concerned about cash deliveries for pay offs and went to great lengths to keep when/where cash would be delivered to the ship a secret. He often mentioned that a Captain on a US ship was murdered in a robbery on board. So maybe it’s plausible, or a well circulated urban myth.

This was pre-internet, pre-sat phones and we did a lot of our communication with the office by SSB. The Captain had worked out some sort of code with the office to disguise that he was asking for a cash delivery, if he said “I will need a hotel room” it meant he needed cash. Unfortunately, some in the office were complete omadhauns and one time when he kept asking for a “hotel room” the office type responded “I don’t know anything about a hotel room, but your cash will be delivered when you dock in San Pedro.”


I could be very wrong on my recollections, but I want to say it involved a SeaLand ship in Houston (Barbours Cut, La Porte). I think it was one of the SL-18’s possibly the Consumer or Producer. The Captain was robbed and shot.

Not sure if this is the referenced incident in the book.

What page?