Masters Of The Merchant Marine

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During the 1960s and ’70s, when so many of these behemoths were being launched, it was thought that if you stuffed them with exotic electronics, they could be operated easily and safely. Now we have learned once again, expensively, that the human element is far more important than any device. Never in the history of seafaring has the training, efficiency, and responsibility of officers and crew been so important.

It is astonishing how little heed has been given, lately, to the men and women of the sea and to the shipmaster in particular. We pay little attention now to the men who are licensed as “Master of Steam and Motor Vessels of Any Gross Tons Upon Oceans” or “Chief Engineer, Steam and Diesel,” whose abilities are so vital to us all. But we can take comfort in the certain knowledge that ships built in the United States, to American standards, and the officers who command them are the best in the world. Too bad they are so few.