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Ropefitter apprentice, United States Maritime Service

Date: 1939 - 1945
Dimensions:
Overall: 67 x 65 mm
Medium: Cotton
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Insignia
Object No: 00009242

User Terms

    Description
    This cloth badge was worn by second class ropefitter apprentices in the United States Maritime Service (USMS).

    Apprentice seamen in the USMS wore red-stitched badges with the letters 'USMS' above their specialist rating and rate insignia.
    SignificanceThis cloth badge represents the United States Maritime Service (USMS), a non-military organisation which trained American merchant mariners in gunnery in Allied countries, including Australia, during World War II. Many of the canvas, cloth and wool ensigns of the service were made locally in Australia.
    HistoryThe United States Maritime Service (USMS) formed in 1938 as a result of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. The objective of the USMS was to train personnel of the United States Merchant Marine (USMM) in seaman-ship and shipboard duties. The USMM was, and remains today, made up of vessels that engaged in the transportation of passengers and cargo in foreign and domestic trade.

    The USMS trained officer candidates and seamen necessary for the manning of a merchant vessel, including radio operators, cooks, firemen, water-tenders and oilers. The USMS was administered by the United States Coast Guard until 1942 when it was turned over to the War Shipping Administration. While the United States Merchant Marines Reserve is part of the US Naval Reserve, the USMS existed as a non-military organisation.

    During World War II, Allied merchant shipping sustained grievous losses along the North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Murmansk convoy routes as a result of mines, submarine, armed raider and aircraft attacks. In 1941 the arming of American merchant ships was approved, and the USMS set up training stations at gunnery schools in Australia and other Allied nations. By combining Allied mercantile convoys and arming their ships, merchant mariners had a greater chance at delivering the supplies, equipment and troops that were vital to the war effort. Many of the USMM ships acted as auxiliary vessels for the US Navy along with United States Army Transport Service, operating from Australia to the Pacific Islands and the United States of America.

    In 1954 the United States Maritime Service training bases were disbanded and the mariners released from duty. Today the service remains as a voluntary organisation under the authority of the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Ropefitter apprentice, United States Maritime Service

    Assigned title: Uniform badge with USMS embroided on it

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