"My dad was the Chief Engineer on the Kathleen Pearcy (aka Pembina) for several years in the late '80s/early '90s. Her cargo was mostly military weapons. I got to sail on her on short voyages in the San Francisco Bay (e.g., Concord Naval Weapons Base to Alameda) and my husband sailed aboard her also as an oiler. When the Kathleen Pearcy was sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea, my mom, my kids and I would go to the Marin Headlands and watch her sail out into the ocean. We could see crew members waiving at us (and we were jumping around making as much of a spectacle as we could). We would watch until the ship was just a tiny dot disappearing into the mist. The kids loved playing on her when the ship was docked in the Bay Area.
When I was a child, I sailed on freighters with my dad who was a Chief Engineer in the British Merchant Marine (We are Scottish, now American citizens). Officers in the British Merchant Marine got to take their spouses and kids with them, so we sailed on several ships for months at a time, and once even for a year. One of the voyages that I remember well was when we were in a violent storm in the Bristol Channel aboard the [I]M.V. Ankobra River[/I], a Black Star Lines cargo ship. It was a small ship, dwarved by huge tankers and carriers, and it was not new, to say the least. The engine crew was constantly facing challenges to diagnose and fix broken systems. In the middle of the night we struck a reef and took a hole in the hull. We shouldn’t have been anywhere near the reef – the crewman who was supposed to be on night watch got drunk and left his post. The hole was bad enough, but it was a far more perilous situation because the storm had grown in velocity and we were being relentlessly pounded by huge wave after huge wave. We were beam on to the swell and were unable to turn the keel to face the swell. We started to seriously list, more and more with each hit, recovering less and less to an upright position. We were sinking and taking water, and highly unstable because of the hole. The bilge pumps were failing. We suffering a huge pounding – sometimes even airborne, sometimes submerged in the raging sea. My brother and I were told to lie down under the bolted down coffee table in my parents’ cabin and hang on to avoid being hit by flying objects. I can still clearly remember what it was like, gripping the coffee table legs as hard as I could while everything that wasn’t bolted down was flying around us – stereo components, furniture, soda pop bottles, etc. Luckily we got hit by only smaller objects, but my brother had a badly injured hand, as the door had slammed on his hand during a savage roll of the ship when he was entering my parents’ cabin. There was no time for crying, we had to focus on hanging on and dodging flying objects. I could hear men running (as best they could) down the hallways, frantically yelling (questions, commands, etc.) and the sounds of banging and hammering, as the crew tried desperately to stop the ship from sinking. My dad calculated (on his slide rule) how to balance the hull by either emptying or partially emptying a hull ballast tank (or tanks) in order to compensate for the hole and re-balance the ship – and at the last minute, before we fully sunk, we managed to turn to the swell and weather the storm. I’m not sure exactly what happened to that crewman who left his post, but I remember being told he was in “a lot of trouble.” My dad (Larry Scott) is now 80 years old, but for several years now has been one of the volunteer chief engineers on the U.S. Navy flagship the [I]S.S.[/I] [I]Jeremiah O’Brien, [/I]docked at San Francisco Pier 45. She is the only existing U.S Coast Guard certified Seaworthy World War II Liberty Ship. She is part of the regatta during Fleet Week and runs cruises that anyone can take throughout the year. The crew is manned entirely by genuine old salts, and anyone can go aboard for $5 and get full-on personal tours of the whole ship including the bridge and engine room. They’ll even light off the boilers for you."
[QUOTE=c.captain;15997]The last operating WWII US built, flagged and operating cargo vessel still carring cargo is no more. The MV SPIRIT OF GRACE (ex PEMBINA, KATHLEEN PEACY, RESOLUTE, PEMBINA) has been scrapped at Brownsville.
Her last years were spent carrying humanitarian cargoes for MercyShips of Lake Charles but up until 1994 was sailing on charter to MSC carrying breakbulk ammunition between US bases in the Pacific.
Old, tied, dirty and uncomfortable, she still had personality and character which new ships lack and in the end sailing as cheif mate and later master on her at the end of her commercial career was something I look back on with fond memories.
The good news is that there are the five museum merchant ships left from the war one can visit and get a direct sense of what it was like to sail on them but to actually be at sea or handling 1000# bombs in West Loch Pearl Harbor was the real deal.
Anyone else here ever have the chance to have sailed on her once upon a time!