Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Merchant Marine Service

To man the increasing merchant fleet and to ensure the Merchant Marine service properly operated during wartime, ordinary seaman could advance into established ratings and wage schedules as deemed appropriate.   Officers attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, which was under direction of the Coast Guard and War Shipping Administration.  Training lasted about nine months and at sea for more than a year.   U.S. Naval Armed Guards also served onboard the merchant ships.  Though the Navy did not build any of the ships, they were responsible for protection, even if the ships did not steam in a convoy.      

Image:  80-G-7696:  Merchant crew and Navy Armed Guard practice operating a 20mm gun onboard ship.   The white canvas bag beneath the magazine is to catch the empty shells.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.