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NAVIGATING THROUGH THREE SECTIONS OF DATA

 

In order to enable the reader to better understand how the contents of the blotter and index pages are presented, copies of two pages from the clearance blotter for 15 and 16 February 1943, and one page from the 1942 index are found following the third section. They have been considerably reduced in size to fit the format. Although the blotter pages are from light traffic days they exhibit all of what is mentioned in the following text.

SECTION ONE:

As the blotter and index give only the ship's name, nationality and type of vessel, it was found necessary to further identify the ship by adding the following characteristics and data,

 
Types of Vessels (also called rig):
S/S-Steam Ship; M/V-Motor Vessel (same as M/S-Motor Ship);
S/T-Steam Tanker; M/T-Motor Tanker;
S/Tug-Steam Tug;
Pass-Passenger Ship;
Schnr- Schooner
Reef-Reefer, a passenger or cargo ship with a large refrigeration capacity.
Year built or delivered.
Size Of Vessel in Gross Registered Tons (GRT) here abbreviated to gt.
This refers to the volume of a vessel including all spaces above and below decks such as cargo, accommodations and bridge. The tonnage is calculated at 100 cubic feet to a ton.
Previous names of the vessel and year of the change
Only noted for the years 1939 to 1945. An asterisk* at the end of a ship's name indicates that the ship is also listed elsewhere under this name.
Short explanations for the various "ship classes" which in the text are in parenthesis.
War:
These vessels were built just before and after the end of World War One to British Standard Ships Specifications. They were built in Britain and in several of the Allied countries for the British to replace war loses. They were of varying sizes and gross tonnages. All ship's names were prefixed with War.
Hog:
These are standard ships built to United States Shipping Board Specifications. They were built just before World War One ended and in the following years at the Hog Island Shipyard located on the Delaware River near Philadelphia. This writer has noted them as Hog A for cargo ships and Hog B for the larger passenger-cargo ships.
Ocean, Park, and Fort:
These vessels are British designed War Standard Ships of World War Two. They are almost identical in appearance. size and capacity. The design of the Liberty Ship is supposedly based on these ships.
Scan:
These are Canadian built coastal cargo vessels resembling those found in Scandinavian waters.
EC2:
These are the Emergency Cargo vessels known as Liberty Ships first built in 1941. The complete official design designation for this standard cargo vessel is EC2-S-C1. Many have been modified for different tasks for which they also received individual type designations. The short designations in parenthesis used in the text are borrowed from Sawyer and Mitchell's book Liberty Ships.
(Z-ET) Z-ET1-S-C3 Tankers
(EC2-AT) Z-EC2-S-C5 Boxed Aircraft Transports
(EC2-TT) Z-EC2-S-C2 Army Tank Transports
(EC2-TS) Fitted as a full troopship with a 550 troop capacity
(EC-2-LTS) Fitted as a limited troopship with a 350 troop capacity and cargo
VC2:
This is the Victory Ship. It is slightly larger and faster than the Liberty Ship.
USMC Types:
Most American vessels built from just before the war, through the war and long after were designed by the United States Maritime Commission (USMC). The designs ranged from tugboats, barges and different cargo ship types from coasters to passenger ships. Nomenclature designations for cargo ship types C1, C2, C3, C4 and tanker types T1, T2, T3 are based on the length of the hull and further broken down into subtypes based on interior and above deck construction including accommodations, cargo handling facilities and other special features. Many USMC ships saw service in the Army and Navy.
 
SECTION TWO:

This is the heart of this study. It lists dates and related information from the blotters and indices.

ARR:
The clearance blotter for 1940 was not available at the archives. But, the entrance blotter was on hand and is used here as an alternative source of information showing which ships came to New York. Unfortunately some of the dates on the margin of the index did not copy and are missing. This is shown as double asterisks ** in the text. The missing date problem could not be corrected as this blotter is lost.
"R" SHIP DESIGNATIONS
attached to dates as in 7/1R are found only in the indices of Entrance and Clearance blotters. They indicate that the vessel has REPORTED ONLY as it is transiting the port (passing through) and will not be loading or discharging cargo. There are no indications that the vessels may have stopped to take on bunkers or provisions, or to wait for convoy. The "R" makes it's first appearance in March 1942 when U-boat activity on the east coast was increasing. Peak months of R ship traffic were in 1942 when in October 155 ships were counted, November 209 and December 184. R use appears to have ended in December 1944. It is likely that the ships used the inland waterways of Cape Cod Canal, Long Island Sound and East River to avoid U-boats operating off this coastal area.
"S" SHIP DESIGNATION
attached to a date as in 2/25-S is not found in the blotters. It is used by this writer as S for Secret as it appears to be used with U.S. Navy vessels and certain British ships whose names are handwritten in red ink into the blotter. U.S. Army Transports are shown as USAT in the blotter with their names similarly handwritten in red ink. They are American and foreign vessels, U.S. Navy ships and what appear to be ordinary merchant ships. A USAT can be US Army owned, chartered or allocated, for one or more voyages, for the duration, and even sail under a foreign flag. In the text, USAT follows the date as 9/25-USAT. Even U.S. Navy transports are erroneously identified in the blotters as USATs. The earliest use of this red ink procedure is an entrance blotter entry of Stirling Castle on 3 January 1942, and for the clearance of Santa Elena on 30 April 1942. Both are troopships. The only time the Queen Elizabeth was an S ship was when she cleared on 5 October 1942. The last S ship use was 6 April 1945.
UNIDENTIFIED VESSELS:
Two British warships HMS Asbury and Thunderer were not found in references on the Royal Navy therefore, their names are deemed to be fictitious. This is unusual considering the number of British naval vessels listed in the blotters under their true names. There are some unidentified mercantile vessels which could not be found in contemporary ship registers. They are listed in the text with all pertinent details on their voyage.
ADDITIONAL NOTATIONS:
These are comments made in the blotter after the vessel has obtained a clearance to proceed on a voyage. It is entered on the line of the vessel's name and indicates that there is some restriction on the vessel from proceeding or of a diversion of a voyage. Often after a restriction is lifted the ship will obtain permission to proceed, or may have to be recleared before proceeding. Just as often, a vessel has sailed while the last entry has the vessel still in port in a detained or other status. Commerce with Canada was occurring on the inland waterways of New York State. Smaller cargo vessels and tugboat towed barges brought to New York City general and bulk cargo such as lumber, paper pulp for newsprint and grains. One route was from Lake Ontario through the city of Oswego, Erie Canal and Hudson River. It was used by Canadian built TANAC tugs being delivered to New York and tug towed barges. The other route is to Quebec Province and is navigable only in ice free months. This route goes north via the Hudson River, Lake Champlain and Rouses Point to St. Lawrence River destinations Montreal and Beloiel and St. John (in Quebec). It was used by motor vessels A.C.D.; Donpaco; G.D.D.; G.T.D.; International I; Kermic and Newscarrier.

 

PART THREE:

Presented here are significant events which occurred in the life of a ship during the war years. It is a compilation of information taken from many different sources on vessels which were damaged or lost due to war causes, from collisions and the forces of nature.

Understandably, after some sixty plus years there still is conflicting information on who, what, where and when something happened to a vessel in time of war. This is likely to never be resolved. I have purposely changed the dates where applicable, to the events that occurred in the western Atlantic to the "real time" in that time zone knowing it will conflict with British (GMT) and German (Berlin time) used by publications of European origin by one day earlier.

Ship positions of events are usually in geographic coordinates. There can also be more than one possible position when reports from different sources are in conflict. However, in most of these cases it was found that these locations are but a few miles from each other. The author has plotted these geographic positions on to commercial maps and nautical charts. The distance from prominent points is in nautical miles (nm) and could have less than 5% error.

Where there were no geographic coordinates, distances if any are from reference material and noted as (m) miles.

The Blotters list all ships in the British Commonwealth as British (Br). In only one instance was a vessel identified as Canadian. The author has added Can for ships flying the Merchant Navy red duster of Canada and is shown in the text as Br/Can. This was done for other Commonwealth vessels when found applicable.