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Your Say: Nov. 1-7, 2018

More on the Ships at Mallows Bay
RE: The Many Ghosts of Mallows Bay, Oct. 25, 2018, www.bayweekly.com/node/45770
      I enjoyed Warren Lee Brown’s Oct. 25 article The Many Ghosts of Mallows Bay, which was both well researched and written.
      There is a common misconception, however, which I am partly responsible for, that the wooden ship fleet was a completely failed national undertaking in that none of the ships actually saw service during World War I and were therefore a complete waste of taxpayer money.
      I would like to correct that impression, as a result of additional research on the fleet undertaken after my book The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay was published 22 years ago. Despite major flaws in the shipbuilding program, undertaken during a great national emergency, many of the ships were actually proven to be of great value to the nation and the world despite their short lives.
       An entire flotilla of the wooden steamships constructed under the U.S. Shipping Board’s Emergency Fleet Corporation’s administration during the war were employed between 1918 and 1922 in what was known as the Pineapple Run between West Coast ports and Hawaii. They carried coal and supplies to our new naval facilities at Pearl Harbor and returned with produce and fruit for the American markets. Some were integral to our trade with South and Central America. The infant U.S. Merchant Marine took others into service as training ships. A number were engaged in commercial operations necessary to keep a starving, war-ravaged Europe fed with produce from America’s breadbasket states. Several were even employed, under hostile fire, in humanitarian efforts to remove Russian refugees from certain death by Bolsheviks in the Black Sea region. A handful were taken into the U.S. Navy. One ship named Alanthus, en route to her demise in the Chesapeake Tidewater, assisted in the first successful rescue of an entire crew from a sunken U.S. submarine, the S-5.
        Unfortunately, the post-war world economy, which was in shambles, could not support many of the vessels then engaged in international trade, which led to the Great Ship Tie-up of the 1920s and the sale of both the wooden and steel ship fleets. Moreover, technological leaps in ship design and production during the war made the wooden fleet obsolete overnight. America’s unfortunate return to isolationism insured their fate.
      Thankfully, in the proposed Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary, their remains, and those of scores of other vessels from all eras of our history, provide us today with an unsurpassed link to America’s incredible maritime past for all to see, unlike any other in the Western Hemisphere — just 30 miles below the capital of the greatest nation in the world.
     Our leaders and politicians must not ignore this remarkable, non-renewable resource any longer.
–Donald Grady Shomette, Dunkirk
 
Correction
      In the Oct. 25 Playgoer, playwright Mark Scharf of Baltimore — who writes adaptions and dramatic comedies — should have been credited as the adaptor of Twin Beach Players’ The Time Machine. The play’s script is published at www.stagerights.com/allshows/the-time-machine.