New here and question about posting poem for survivors

Hello all,

I wasn’t sure where to start with this, so here I am. My name is Melanie and my dad was a Merchant Mariner in WWII. He was on the U.S.S. John Worthington when it was torpedoed. He turned 92 yesterday and has some serious health issues. Recently, he wrote a short poem for survivors with an introduction that he was hoping to have spread around. It would make him very happy. Is there anyone who would be willing to help me with this? If so, could I post it here, or does someone have a better suggestion?

Warm wishes,

Melanie Rhein-Gammell

This is a great place to post it.

Please thank your father for his service.

Post away! Please, by all means! We’d love to read your father’s poem. The merchant marine is the single deadliest and single most under-appreciated service of WWII and there are far too few sailors left from that era. As brother mariners we thank your father for his service and we wish him well in recovering from his illness. If those dirty kraut bastards couldn’t kill him then neither will being 92 years old.

John Konrad, the creator of gCaptain and one of the moderators on here may even be interested in posting your father’s poem on gCaptain’s nationally recognized news website.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Please post the poem I’d love to read it.

Oh I forgot please thank your dad for his bravery and service.

Oh my. Thank you all for your warm welcome! I will pass along your messages to my wonderful dad and post his poem tomorrow. He is such an amazing man. And I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who fought for us. As this short poem is for those left behind after the loss of their loved one(s), I am quite sure that he will write one for all you blessed souls that are still with us. Be well. Melanie

I am not sure if your dad has done any research on the history of his ship but there is a bit available on the internet including here

built Portland Or, 1921

torpedoed off Brazil in 1943 but sailed by master and crew back to Galveston, TX where she was declared CTL

The John Worthington began her career in the far
Pacific Northwest. She was a tanker launched in
1920 by the G. M. Standifer Construction Corporation
of Vancouver, Washington (Lloyd’s Register,
1940). She had four sisters: the W. H. Libby,
Livingston Roe, Christy Payne, and Chester O.
Swain. She measured 463 feet 3 inches long between
perpendiculars (477 feet 10 inches overall),
had a beam of 60 feet, and a cargo capacity of
89,851 barrels (Figures 30 and 31). With a fourcylinder,
quadruple-expansion engine rated at 2,800
horsepower, the John Worthington had a certified
speed of 9.9 knots. In a pinch, she could do more.
The Worthington was part of the growing fleet
of tankers operated by the Standard Oil Company of
New Jersey. She operated for Standard Oil – the
“Esso Fleet” – for nearly 20 years, often carrying oil
from ports on the Gulf Coast to refineries and
distributors on the Atlantic Coast. On September 3,
1939, the day Britain declared war on Nazi Germany,
the Worthington sailed from Baytown, Texas for New York
with a full load of petroleum products.
Before the end of the year, she had made six
wartime voyages, carrying some 533,786 barrels of
oil products.

The Worthington continued to operate as part
of the Esso Fleet during the early part of World
War II. In 1940 she made 20 voyages, carrying
1,703,648 barrels of oil. She made 21 voyages in
1941, safely delivering 1,777,731 barrels to their

By early 1942, the Worthington had been
equipped with a Naval Armed Guard and weapons
for self-defense. She carried an Armed Guard of
eight, led by a naval reservist coxswain. The tanker
carried a 3"/23 caliber dual-purpose gun mounted
on the bow, a 4"/50 caliber dual purpose gun on
the stern, and four 0.50-caliber Browning machine
guns divided between the midships and aft superstructures.
In the spring of 1942, the Worthington took on
a cargo of petroleum products at Baytown, Texas,
bound for Bermuda. During this same period, the
US convoy system was just getting organized, and
German U-boats were causing heavy losses along
the Eastern seaboard, particularly off Florida and
the Virginia Capes. Many Allied convoys during this
period were forced to make coastwise passages
without escort of any kind; the Worthington’s
voyage to Bermuda may have been one of these.

The Worthington rounded the tip of Florida safely,
though, and continued on to Bermuda without
incident. After unloading her cargo at St. George’s,
the tanker was shifted to a nearby anchorage to
wait for the next US-bound convoy. After two-and-ahalf
weeks, the John Worthington was assigned the
best escort available – the US Navy fleet tug Owl –
and weighed anchor for New York. The trip north
passed without serious incident, and the
Worthington arrived safely in New York at 2:00 a.m.
on May 13, 1942.

By autumn the US convoy situation had improved
considerably. On the morning of November
15, 1942, under the command of Master Gunnar
Gjertsen, she left New York in ballast for Galveston,
Texas. Gjertsen had nearly 20 years’ experience in
the Esso Fleet, having joined the company in 1925
as third mate on the Worthington. Gjertsen was all
too familiar with the war against merchantmen at
sea, having served as a mine warfare officer in his
native Norway throughout World War I and, more
recently, having served as master of the tanker
Arriaga when she was torpedoed and sunk in June

The Naval Armed Guard had been expanded
with the addition of more gunners and four naval
communications ratings, all under the direction of
Lt. (jg) Charles C. Dalton, USNR. The Worthington
sailed in a slow, eight-knot convoy of 27 merchantmen
and five small escorts. The first few days
passed without incident. Late on the afternoon of
November 19, while the convoy was abreast of the
Georgia coast, one of the escorts dropped two depth
charges over a suspected submarine contact. The
convoy commodore ordered emergency turns to
avoid the area. The following day, in the forenoon
watch, lookouts aboard the Worthington spotted
what looked like a ditched plane off on the horizon.
Two of the convoy’s escorts approached and appeared
to rescue the airplane’s crew. The convoy
arrived safely at Galveston in the mid-afternoon of
November 25, 1942, the day before Thanksgiving.
The Worthington was routed into the Galveston
Ship Channel and tied up at Todd Shipyard on
Pelican Island. A Todd repair crew came aboard that
evening and worked through the night repairing a
leaky hull plate on the starboard bow.

The Worthington sailed at noon on Thanksgiving
Day and proceeded independently down the
coast to Corpus Christi. She entered Aransas Pass
during the night of November 26-27, and arrived at
Corpus Christi in the early morning hours of
November 27. Later that morning the Worthington
was shifted to the Humble Oil Docks at Ingleside,
Texas on the northern shore of Corpus Christi Bay,
where she took on a load of petroleum products.
She sailed from Ingleside at noon that same day and
proceeded independently to Harbor Island Dock,
Texas, arriving there early on November 28. The
Worthington sailed from Harbor Island later that
morning in convoy with five other merchantmen
and six escorts. At 10:00 a.m. on the 29th, the
Worthington anchored in Bolivar Roads between
Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula.

The Worthington sailed in convoy from
Galveston later that afternoon in a convoy of 29
merchantmen and five escorts for New York. On
December 4, 1942, and again on December 5, the
convoy escorts depth-charged possible submerged
contacts and the convoy made emergency turns to
clear the area. The convoy anchored safely at the
buoy off Ambrose Light, New York on the afternoon
of December 8. After taking on her pilot and making
a brief stop at Quarantine, the John Worthington
made fast at Pier 5, Constable Hook in Bayonne,
New Jersey, on the morning of December 9, 1942.
The Worthington sailed from New York again
on December 16, 1942 in a convoy of 21 merchantmen
and five escorts. A Navy blimp patrolled
overhead during daylight. The convoy steamed south
along the U.S. Atlantic seaboard. The following day,
as the convoy passed Norfolk, nine more ships
joined the group. On the morning of December 23,
the convoy reached a point near Key West, Florida,
and the convoy broke up into separate segments
routed to different destinations. The Worthington
proceeded on to Galveston, anchoring again in
Bolivar Roads at noon on the day after Christmas,

After a brief layover in dry dock at Todd
Shipyards, the Worthington sailed again on December
28 for the Standard Oil Docks on the Houston
Ship channel, arriving in the Bayou City that
afternoon. After filling her bunkers with 87,000 bbls
of Navy diesel oil, she left the dock late on the
afternoon of December 29, but ran aground on Hog
Island, near the head of Galveston Bay. There
appeared to be no damage, but a hawser became
entangled in the ship’s screw. She was refloated
successfully the next morning and continued slowly
on to her anchorage in Bolivar Roads, where salvage
divers removed the fouled hawser. She sailed from
Galveston that same afternoon, December 30, 1942,
and steamed alone to Key West and then New York,
arriving at Stapleton Anchorage, New York, on
January 8, 1943. The Worthington had made 11
voyages in 1942, delivering nearly a million barrels
of oil.

The Worthington sailed again from the Federal
Anchorage in New York Harbor before dawn on
January 15, 1943. Three of her tanks were filled
with seawater for ballast, but she also carried 27
sacks of mail. In a convoy of 22 merchantmen and
five escorts, she steamed first to Guantanamo Bay
and then to Aruba, Netherlands West Indies, arriving
there at 2:00 a.m. on January 25, 1943. At the oil
docks there she took on a cargo of 30,230 bbls of
diesel oil and 1,897 bbls of fuel oil, all bound for
Cristobal, Panama, and 18,141 bbls of aviation fuel
and 36,662 bbls of diesel fuel consigned to the US
submarine base at Coco Solo, Panama. She arrived
at Cristobal on January 30, 1943, and continued on
to Coco Solo the following day. She sailed from
Panama without escort, returning to Aruba on
February 7. On February 10, 1943, she sailed in
convoy for New York with 33 other merchantmen
and four escorts. At 6:50 a.m. on St. Valentine’s Day,
at 21° 2’ N, 72° 43’ W, one of the escorts made
contact with a suspected submarine. The corvette
dropped a quick series of eight depth charges about
two miles off the convoy’s starboard beam. Two
other escorts, a corvette and submarine chaser,
quickly closed the scene as the convoy commodore
ordered emergency turns away from the area. The
escorts continued to depth-charge the site for half
an hour after the original attack, but were unable to
report positive results.

On February 18, the Worthington was forced to
heave-to when a link pin on one of the engine’s four
main cylinders broke. The Esso tanker got underway
again on three cylinders, but could not regain the
convoy. The Worthington proceeded on alone,
zigzagging, and reached New York on the evening of
February 20, 1943.

On March 14, 1943, the Worthington sailed
from New York in ballast in convoy for Aruba. The
convoy consisted of 28 merchantmen and five
escorts. She arrived in Aruba on March 24. There
she took on 11,000 bbls of gasoline and 20,355 bbls
of naval diesel fuel, destined for Pernambuco in
Brazil. She loaded 8,377 bbls of gasoline, 5,630 bbls
of naval diesel fuel, and 11,000 bbls of kerosene
consigned to the Atlantic Oil Company office in Rio
de Janeiro. Finally, she loaded 7,600 bbls of kerosene
consigned to the Standard Oil Company of
Brazil in Rio.

The Worthington sailed from Aruba on
March 26, 1943, and proceeded in convoy with one
other merchantman and a single escort. After a
short stop at Curaçao, she continued on to Port-of-
Spain, Trinidad, in a convoy of 14 ships and five
escorts. She sailed from Port-of-Spain on April 2,
1943, in convoy for Recife, Brazil.

Recife, formerly called Pernambuco, was a key
Allied base by that time. Brazil had maintained
close relations with the United States for many
years, and the US Navy had taken a particular
interest in developing Brazil’s own naval capabilities.
While several countries in South America
remained sympathetic to Nazi Germany, Brazil
remained loyal to the US. When Germany and Italy
declared war on the US just following Pearl Harbor,
Brazil immediately broke off diplomatic relations
with those nations. Brazil allowed US patrol aircraft
to operate from airfields on its soil, and opened its
harbors to US warships. Recife was the most important
of these, for though it was isolated and only
moderately well- equipped, it was located near Cabo
de São Roque, the easternmost point on the Brazilian
coast. After Brazil declared war on the Axis in
August 1942, Recife quickly developed into a major
naval installation, providing for the training,
outfitting, and resupply of both Brazilian and
American antisubmarine forces.

The John Worthington sailed for Recife in
convoy TB-7 (Trinidad-Brazil), along with 12 other
merchantmen and seven escorts. It was a slow
convoy – six-and-one-half knots – but it arrived
safely at Recife on the evening of April 19, 1943.
The Worthington sailed from Recife on April 28 in
company with three other merchantmen and four
escorts. The escorts left the merchantmen at La
Bahia to continue on alone, and the Worthington
arrived safely at Rio de Janiero on May 4, 1943.

After emptying her bunkers at Rio, the
Worthington sailed again on May 14, 1943, under
the command of Captain Gunnar Gjertsen. All tanks
had been vented of oil fumes, and main tank nos. 3,
5 and 7 were filled with seawater as ballast. The
Worthington continued up the coast to São Salvador,
Brazil, where she rendezvoused with a U.S.-bound
convoy. The convoy sailed on Monday, May 24, and
steamed slowly up the coast of Brazil.

The merchantmen of the convoy were arranged
in five columns. The John Worthington took her
assigned position as the second ship in the middle
column. Five American warships, a destroyer and
four corvettes patrolled ahead of the column and off
to each side.

After sundown on May 27, the convoy came
abreast of Cabo de São Roque. One after another,
the merchantmen swung to port and settled on a
northwesterly course for Trinidad. The weather was
clear, with a moderate sea and a steady southeast
breeze. Four minutes before midnight, a torpedo
fired by U-154 racked the third ship in the column
just to starboard of the Worthington.

The stricken ship, the Texas Company
(Texaco) tanker Florida, immediately began to settle
and fell out of formation. The officer of the watch
on the Worthington, Third Mate Frederick Arfstrom,
sounded general quarters. Captain Gjertsen was also
on the bridge at the time of the explosion.

A minute or so after the Florida was hit, while
the merchant crew and the Naval Armed Guard were
rushing to their battle stations, a torpedo struck the
John Worthington aft of the starboard side, sending
up a sheet of water near the after superstructure.
The force of the explosion skewed the stern of the
vessel 30° to port, putting her on a collision course
with ships in the next column to starboard, but the
tanker’s steering gear was undamaged and the
helmsman quickly got her back on course and in
proper formation.

Gjertsen sent his chief mate, Frank Hooper, aft
to inspected the damage. Hooper soon returned and
reported that the torpedo had struck the no. 8 tank,
and had seriously damaged the bulkhead separating
that tank from those forward and aft. Nevertheless,
he reported, the ship seemed to be structurally
sound. It was fortunate that the Worthington was
lightly ballasted, for she had enough reserve buoyancy
to keep her afloat. The chief engineer, Walter
Gilliam, telephoned the bridge and reported that,
apart from some minor damage, all was well in the
engine room. Gjertsen made his decision. He would
stay with the convoy.

The John Worthington kept her station in the
convoy and continued on to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad,
a distance of over 1,900 nautical miles. Although she
bore a hole in her starboard side the size of a small
house, she averaged a speed of 9.14 knots over the
course from São Salvador, Brazil.

At Port-of-Spain, the tanker was examined by a
surveyor from Lloyd’s and by Myles Bylsma, chief
engineer for Standard Oil. The damage was more
severe than first thought. The torpedo had blasted a
hole that extended down the side of the ship from
just below the main deck, around the turn of the
bilge, and along the bottom to within 12 feet of the
centerline bulkhead. Tanks 7, 8, and 9 were flooded.
But there had been no vibration or additional
deterioration of the ship’s structure in the 1,900
miles the Worthington had traveled since the attack.
Since there were no suitable repair yards in
Trinidad, the Lloyd’s surveyor certified the tanker as
seaworthy enough to travel to a repair facility on
the Gulf of Mexico.

The tanker sailed from Port-of-Spain on June 8,
1943, and arrived at Guantanamo, Cuba, five days
later. She sailed again on June 14, and arrived at
Galveston, Texas on the morning of June 21, 1943.
She had covered the distance from Trinidad to Cuba
at an average speed of 8.47 knots, and the distance
from Cuba to Galveston at an average speed of 8.38
knots. In all, the John Worthington had steamed
about 4,400 nautical miles since being torpedoed off

The Worthington was examined carefully at
Todd Shipyards in Galveston. The damage was
extensive, and would require considerable resources
to repair. Instead of repairing the ship, the US
Maritime Commission declared the John
Worthington a constructive total loss (CTL). She
would not be repaired.

The tanker’s guns were removed at Todd
Shipyard. On July 21, 1943, Standard Oil transferred
the title of the John Worthington to the War
Shipping Administration. The WSA moved the ship
down the Texas Coast to the Corpus Christi area.
The John Worthington was abandoned in the Lydia
Ann Channel, near Port Aransas, Texas.
In mid-November 1943, long after the John
Worthington had been written off by the Maritime
Commission, the War Shipping Administration
issued a press release highlighting the tanker’s “epic
4,600-mile dash.” The press release, delayed to
negate any intelligence value it might have for
enemy agents, gave a brief summary of the torpedoing
and subsequent voyage to the US. Though the
article did not provide much detail – again, to deny
valuable intelligence to the enemy – the information
it did contain about the incident was accurate. No
mention was made of the fact that the ship would
never sail again. The press release concluded by
listing the names and home addresses of several of
the Worthington’s merchant officers and crew,
including Captain Gjertsen.

The vessel was later stripped and the hull left to
fall apart until she disappeared beneath the waters
of the channel between Port Aransas and Aransas
Bay. The wreck is marked by a lighted buoy.



Thank you so much for this great information and wonderful words at the end. I will pass this along to him. I am so glad I found this forum.


Thank you C.captain for that fascinating piece of history, and Ms. Rhein-Gammell, please express my gratitude to your Father for his service.

Where’d she go? I’m all geared up to hear a poem now.

There once was a man from Nantucket

No DeadQuarters, he is not dead. I feel sorry for you. You have no heart.

Yea that was uncalled for.

I wanted to say something earlier but I was at a loss for words… Now that I realize Melanie saw it I feel terrible. There is no place for that kind of depravity on here, especially not towards someone of the honor and distinction of a WWII Merchant Mariner like Melanie’s father. Now that she’s seen that she’ll probably never come back to the forum again but Melanie, if you read this, we’re all very sorry and hope that your father is doing exceedingly well. Please do share his poem with us soon.

Looks like she did post it under a separate thread titled: “Short Intro. and poem from my dad, from yesterday’s post”

Darn, I didn’t see it.

it was here

Short Intro. and poem from my dad, from yesterday’s post

Any wise words for DeadQuarters? The other reason I didn’t say anything is because I figured your pointy stick would be out before too long.

I think he owes Melanie a very public apology.

[QUOTE=PaddyWest2012;124693]Any wise words for DeadQuarters? The other reason I didn’t say anything is because I figured your pointy stick would be out before too long.[/QUOTE]

I’m too busy with shit at the moment…have at him on my behalf. You wield the stick here!