chapter  16
14 Pages

United States Merchant Marine Casualties

WithJames E. Valle

The ships and men of the United States Merchant Marine constituted one of the smallest of the American services which saw action during World War II, They were also among the most heavily engaged, participating in every major theater of war and sustaining exceptionally heavy casualties by American standards. The geographical spread of US casualties can best be understood by an analysis of the ocean areas in which the ships were sunk. The American Merchant Marine had a slightly different experience than the combined Allied merchant marines, which sustained 76 percent of their losses in the North Atlantic. In accounting for ship losses sustained by the Merchant Marine, one further category is of interest. The losses in ships and men sustained by the American Merchant Marine and its counterpart, the Army Transportation Service, were grave and painful to bear, but they need to be put in perspective in order to achieve an objective understanding of their significance.