Ship That Would Not Die
USS Queens, SS Excambion, and USTS Texas Clipper
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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In Joseph Conrad’s short story “Youth,” Marlow remembers his old ship, now sunk beneath the sea on which she had once sailed: “I think of her with pleasure, with affection, with regret—as you would think of someone dead you have loved. I shall never forget her.” Amen, I say. Conrad’s two sentences convey agreeably (with the help of a sexist but satisfying pronoun...
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While I was researching my book on the history of Texas A&M University at Galveston, I kept coming across material related to its first training ship, Texas Clipper. I always knew the ship’s story was a tale worth telling and could barely contain my enthusiasm when Texas...
Part One. USS Queens, 1944-1946, an Attack Transport: Serving in the Pacific War and Its Aftermath
Chapter 1. Getting It Ready
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In 1944—for good or evil—giants directed the fate of the world: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, and Hirohito. FDR had just been elected to an unprecedented fourth term, this time with a new vice president, Harry Truman. Allied Forces sustained their increasingly successful offensive against the two remaining...
Chapter 2. Off to War
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On January 19, at 0901, Queens, escorted by Traw (DE 350) and operating as Task Unit 29.6.3, departed Pier 4, berth 44, Naval Operations Base, Norfolk Virginia. Finally, the men learned the content of secret sailing orders: they were headed, via the Panama Canal, for service in the Pacific....
Chapter 3. Peacetime
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On August 5, Queens picked up 1,651 passengers (1,094 navy enlisted, twenty marine officers, and 537 civilians) and steamed westward. The military complement was mostly “boots and replacements,” that is, new recruits and those...
Part Two. SS Excambion, 1948-1959, a Cargo-Passenger Liner: Plying the Mediterranean Trade for the American Flag Fleet
Chapter 4. Reconversion
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In 1948, U.S. president Harry S. Truman held up an issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune with its famously erroneous headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Now in his first elected term, Truman faced off against Soviet premier Joseph Stalin in the Cold War (a phrase coined by Truman’s advisor Bernard Baruch)...
Chapter 5. The New Four Aces
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The Four Aces—“staunch, sturdy and steady ships” (American Export Lines, 1951)—were scheduled to make their maiden voyages in 1948 in the same order as their prewar predecessors. But late deliveries from the shipbuilding yard, technical glitches, and labor unrest combined to delay their announced Tuesday sailing dates. AEL generally...
Chapter 6. Troubled Waters
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Two major maritime incidents in 1956 would alter the shipping world forever. On the positive side, a little-heralded voyage in the spring would have far-reaching implications for the future of cargo handling technology. Here it was efficiency and not speed that set a new standard. On April 26, 1956, the converted...
Part Three. USTS Texas Clipper, 1965-1996, a Floating Classroom: Teaching Merchant Marine Cadets
Chapter 7. On-the-Job Training
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The social revolution people generally think of when referring to the 1960s really didn’t begin until about 1965. That was the year that the miniskirt, developed by British designer Mary Quant, made its first startling appearance in mainstream fashion. Kids glided along on something called a skateboard (an improved version would be introduced...
Chapter 8. A Changing Role
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Texas Clipper had a stimulating piece of recreational equipment installed in its after bar: foosball, a table soccer game in which each team manually spins rods to make miniature players propel a ball toward the other team’s goal. While the ship was docked, its deck had...
Chapter 9. Going Out in Style
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In March 1989 university officials had to face facts: the ship was dilapidated. They appeared before a subcommittee of the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee to ask that the aging Texas Clipper be replaced. MARAD came up with a money-saving counterproposal that two newer ships...
Afterword. Navigating a Sinking Ship, 1996-2007: From Bureaucracy to the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico
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The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon in the Gulf of Mexico as I stood on the after deck of the tugboat El Jaguar. It was dawn on November 17, 2007, and we were towing the seven-thousand-ton USTS Texas Clipper to its new home seventeen nautical miles off the coast of South Padre Island. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Appendix: Queens/Excambion/Texas Clipper Timeline
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 69 color, 48 b&w photos. Line art. Map. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2011