On the Water

Answering the Call, 1917-1945

Merchant seamen and ships played a vital role in winning both world wars of the 20th century.

A world at war put immense demands on American shipyards and sailors. During World War II, the maritime industry responded with merchant ships by the thousands. Though not part of the U.S. Navy, these ships delivered the troops, supplies, and equipment that won the war. Thousands of merchant seamen gave their lives on these vessels, in a wartime role as dangerous as serving in the armed forces.