Seatrain

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Seatrain
Posted by wanswheel on Friday, April 02, 2010 9:25 PM

Popular Science Monthly magazine, May 1929: Steamer carries a mile of cars

http://books.google.com/books?id=bCoDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA53#v=onepage&q=&f=true

Popular Mechanics magazine, October 1947: Salt-Water Railroad

http://books.google.com/books?id=0N4DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA122#v=onepage&q=&f=true

Life Magazine ad 1939: Laurel & Hardy bewildered by Seatrain

http://books.google.com/books?id=AEIEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA6#v=onepage&q=&f=true

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, April 03, 2010 10:09 AM

The bracing system for the cars is virtually identical to the one used by the Great Lakes boats.  I would assume that such monster carferries were slow to load and unload and the combination of containerization and faster freight schedules doomed such an operation.  Seatrain later became a container ship operation but has since folded.

As an aside, the "Seatrain New Jersey" became a tank carrier for the Navy (LST's were not yet developed) as the "USS Lakehurst" and took part in Operation Torch.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Saturday, April 03, 2010 4:50 PM

Seatrain's major route was from the Port of New York to (pre-Castro) Cuba.  When Fidel and friends took over, that traffic died rather abruptly.

At least one Seatrain ship was in service carrying heavy equipment to SEA in the late 60s.  Don't know which one - just caught a reference to, "Seatrain," while monitoring TAC radio.

Chuck

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, April 05, 2010 10:21 AM

Seatrain New Orleans

Excerpt from Time Magazine, October 17, 1932

Wind & wave were not the only hazards faced by a strange looking craft which set out from Hoboken, N. J. via Havana for New Orleans last week. At the last moment, the Seatrain New York was almost scuttled by a Shipping Board ruling.

Atlantic shipping lines, Seaboard Railways and unfriendly shippers protested bitterly to the Shipping Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission that the Seatrain, a floating railroad yard with a mile of track below-deck to hold 100 loaded freight cars, was damagingly unfair competition.

Seatrain New York has a speed of 16 knots, can carry freight faster than any coastwise freighter, can lighter it from Hoboken to New Orleans in six days for half the rail fare. The Shipping Board handed down a last-minute decision while Seatrain New York was fidgeting in New York Harbor: Seatrain Lines Inc. will be suffered a six-month trial period. The vessel cleared South with a cargo of cotton manufacturing machinery, paper, beans, steel, olive oil, whale oil, soap grease, soap stock, cement.

President of Seatrain Lines Inc. is Graham M. Brush, onetime shipping executive. Since 1929 he has operated Seatrain New Orleans between New Orleans and Havana. Using a giant crane at each terminal, he has cut 40% off the usual stevedore charges, saved two loadings for shippers using rail-water transportation between the U. S. and Cuba. In the past three years Seatrain Lines Inc. has carried twice as much tonnage between New Orleans and Havana as the three competing shipping lines which operate four times as many vessels.

Excerpts from a 1952 lawsuit, Seatrain vs. PRR et al.

In 1929 Overseas Railways, Inc. began to carry goods between the ports of New York and New Orleans, via Havana, Cuba. On December 31, 1931 Seatrain acquired its net assets and it was merged and consolidated with Seatrain on October 14, 1933. In October of 1932 Seatrain inaugurated its interstate service between the ports of New York and New Orleans, via Havana, Cuba. In or about June of 1940 it added a service between the ports of New York and Texas City, Texas and on November 30, 1951 it added a further service between the ports of New York and Savannah, Georgia.....

As far back as 1932 the defendants, by their joint action with other railroads, added to the Code of Car Service Rules of the Association of American Railroads the following, known as Rule No. 4:

"Cars of Railway ownership must not be delivered to a steamship, ferry or barge line for water transportation without permission of the owner filed with the Car Service Division."

This rule was directed specifically against Seatrain with the sole object of monopolizing traffic for the all-rail routes to the exclusion of Seatrain, and although the said rule in form is applicable to the railroad-owned or controlled freight car ferries it was not intended to restrict and in practice has not restricted the use and interchange by them of railroad-owned freight cars since no railroads have refused to permit delivery of their cars to such car ferries. Only Seatrain is thus affected....

Seatrain has moved for a preliminary injunction to restrain the defendants Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company, Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, Southern Railway Company, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, Seaboard Air Line Railroad Company, St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad Company, Erie Railroad Company, and Association of American Railroads from a continuance of the acts alleged in the amended complaint. Affidavits in support of the motion were filed by Graham M. Brush, President of Seatrain.

http://www.loislaw.com/advsrny/doclink.htp?alias=FDCR&cite=108+F.+Supp.+113

Graham M. Brush (1896-1968) served in the First Aero Co. Signal Corps of the New York National Guard and was a member of the First Yale Unit of naval aviators in World War I.  There's a lot about Brush in an interesting paper, "From Seatrain to Sealand, Regulatory Politics and the Origins of Containerization" by Arthur Donovan at this link.

http://www.patrec.org/old_patrec/conferences/PATREC%20Seminar%20Papers/Seminar%207%2006Aug04%20Donovan/Donovan%20Seminar%20SeaTrain%20to%20Sealand%2022-06-04.pdf

"In the summer of 1942, with German General Erwin Rommel pushing the British Eighth Army back toward the crucial Suez Canal, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General George C. Marshall, offered the British the use of the 2nd Armored Division. In desperate need of replacement tanks and material, the British asked that the Americans ship them to Egypt via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid German aircraft and U-boats in the contested Mediterranean Sea. In July 1942, Convoy AS-4 departed from New York with six ships, but a submarine sank SS Fairport of Waterman Steamship Company loaded with 250 Sherman tanks. Marshall made an additional 250 tanks available and the Seatrain Texas sailed at the end of the month, without an escort, to catch up with the convoy. At a time when German U-boats prowled our waters, the merchant mariners were willing to take the risk of sailing unescorted so that their precious cargo could reach the front lines in time. She completed the voyage in one month and five days and her cargo proved crucial to the Allied victory at El Alamein. These Sherman tanks, the first Allied tanks which matched the German Mark IV Panzer in firepower, were a decisive factor at the battle of El Alamein which began on October 23, 1942, and resulted in an Allied victory."

Saigon, December 21, 1967 (AP)

An explosive device apparently set by Viet Cong blasted a seven-foot hole in the side of an American cargo ship bound up the Saigon shipping channel with supplies for the allied war effort.

The channel, vital to the movement of thousands of tons of war material from the United States, was reported clear. Communist guerrillas have made a number of attempts to close the channel by sinking an allied ship in it.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said the explosion ripped through the 8,108-ton Seatrain Texas as it lay at anchor in the Nha Be River, nine miles southeast of Saigon. The resulting hole extended five feet above the waterline and two feet below it.

The Navy spokesman said the ship's crew controlled flooding in the vessel and two Army tugs stood by.

http://grambo.us/atav/4tca.htm

Seatrain Havana

http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/h2/hammondsport.htm

Seatrain New Jersey

http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/l3/lakehurst.htm

http://digital.hagley.org/u?/p268001coll5,185

Seatrain New York

http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/k4/kitty_hawk-i.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=_KR5rCZQoSAC&pg=PA90#v=onepage&q=&f=true

Seatrain Texas

http://www.usmm.org/seatraintexas.html

http://digital.hagley.org/u?/p268001coll5,182

http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=3444

Mike

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Posted by JimValle on Thursday, April 08, 2010 3:33 PM

That's a really interesting story about the Seatrain Texas carrying tanks to the Battle of El Alemain.  As a sixteen knot ship, she would have been allowed to sail unescorted under the rules prevailing in 1942,  The thinking was that the top speed of a U-boat on the surface was 17.5 knots and submerged it was 8-9 knots but for only an hour or so.  Thus if  the Seatrain Texas were being stalked by a sufaced U-boat she could deal with it using her deck guns, especially the one mounted on the fantail, and if the U-boat submerged she could outrun it.  The only dangerous circumstance was if the U-boat used her 1.5 knot advantage in speed and knowing the ship's base course to run ahead, particularly at night, and got into a position to make a surfaced or submerged attack just before dawn.  That happened enough times that the practice of 15 - 16 knot ships sailing independently was stopped in early 1943 but not before the Seatrain Texas beat the odds on General Marshall's calculated risk.  

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Posted by tomikawaTT on Sunday, April 11, 2010 2:01 PM

Interesting to note that Seatrain Texas began its military career as a tank ferry, and ended it after delivering its last load of supplies to Vietnam.  Yes, the Seatrain Texas that was mined in 1968 was the same ship that delivered 250 Sherman tanks to Egypt in time for El Alamein.

Seatrain New Jersey (briefly USS Lakehurst) was also involved in SEA sealift operations.

At least one of the Seatrain ships actually carried rail equipment to France after D-Day.  I found a photo of one unloading a locomotive at Cherbourg.

When Seatrain shifted from carrying railroad cars to intermodal service, the classic Seatrains were withdrawn from service. They were scrapped in the early '70s.

Chuck

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, April 12, 2010 3:46 PM

Robert F. Kauffman wrote:

"The crewmembers were very efficient and business-like. But when they occasionally paused at the rail, taking a break for a smoke, they were immediately besieged by all sorts of questions. During the course of the interrogation, we found out that the Sea-Train Texas was a 19,000-ton vessel that had served in the prewar days carrying rolling stock between the mainland and Cuba. However, with great pride and possibly some exaggeration, they told us how their vessel had single-handedly saved the battle of North Africa, after having delivered a shipload of tanks in time to stop Rommel on his drive toward Alexandria, Egypt.

"There were times when, with almost terminal boredom, we would deliberately get lost in the many passageways and make our way into the depths of the ship. On a lower deck we found trucks jammed together, bumper to bumper, in what looked like a truck parking lot. But below that deck was the secret of the ship's name. There, the hold was filled with locomotives and boxcars. The boxcars were unusually small, each with those strange-looking cylindrical bumpers on either end of the car, and all of them wearing their olive drab uniform, ready for the wartime European railway system."

"From Brooklyn to Cardiff" by Robert F. Kauffman.

http://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/memoirs.pages/kauffman.pages/brooklyn.cardiff.htm

http://www.3ad.com/history/wwll/memoirs.pages/kauffman.htm

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Posted by wanswheel on Monday, April 12, 2010 4:14 PM

September 1, 1932

My dear Mr. Brush:

I congratulate you and your associates most cordially upon the double launching during this month of the two new freighters of your lines at Chester, Pennsylvania. In their speed and the novelty of their design they indicate again how resourcefulness and ingenuity of American designers and operators may facilitate the development of our invaluable ocean borne commerce.


Yours faithfully,

HERBERT HOOVER

http://hbs.railfan.net/sea1.jpg

http://hbs.railfan.net/sea2.jpg

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Posted by cudaken on Saturday, April 17, 2010 5:31 PM

 Big Smile

I hate Rust

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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, May 01, 2010 12:17 PM

tomikawaTT

Seatrain's major route was from the Port of New York to (pre-Castro) Cuba.  When Fidel and friends took over, that traffic died rather abruptly.

At least one Seatrain ship was in service carrying heavy equipment to SEA in the late 60s.  Don't know which one - just caught a reference to, "Seatrain," while monitoring TAC radio.

Chuck

Chuck;

Pretty good memory!

   I was in RVN 67-68, and while TAD'd to 1st Motors( they were grabbing all Heavy Truck liscened Marines for resupply) were were pulling ammunition resupply in Sea Land Containers from the Port of Da Nang to Dong Ha. and retrograde materials back. It was up and down Hwy 1 over Hai Van Pass. It was a booger. 5 ton 6x6 loaded with pallets of 155 shels and a couple of bridge trailers with Sea Land Containers lashed to them.

As I recall I think the Sea Land container ships called at Da Nang about one a month and more frequently down country some where. Possibly Cam Rahn Bay, but I am not 100% sure of theat last.

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, May 02, 2010 1:05 AM

Sam, definitely Cam Ranh Bay, the deep water port.

http://books.google.com/books?id=WDN5omS5LO0C&pg=PA181#v=onepage&q&f=true

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Posted by Durval on Monday, March 04, 2013 8:10 AM

Dear Jim Valle

I really like your comment about Seatrain Texas. I'm a brazilian writer, now writing a book about WWII.

Do you now how can i get the log books of Seatrain Texas Trip to Middle East in 1942? I need to know the exact course of Seatrain Texas in Atlantic Sea.

I tried NARA and others place but nobody had this log books. I believe, maybe the company navigation (Seatrain Lines) could hold this files, but i don't know how to find  its contact/adress etc..

Regards,

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, March 07, 2013 7:55 PM

samfp1943

tomikawaTT

Seatrain's major route was from the Port of New York to (pre-Castro) Cuba.  When Fidel and friends took over, that traffic died rather abruptly.

At least one Seatrain ship was in service carrying heavy equipment to SEA in the late 60s.  Don't know which one - just caught a reference to, "Seatrain," while monitoring TAC radio.

Chuck

Chuck;

Pretty good memory!

   I was in RVN 67-68, and while TAD'd to 1st Motors( they were grabbing all Heavy Truck liscened Marines for resupply) were were pulling ammunition resupply in Sea Land Containers from the Port of Da Nang to Dong Ha. and retrograde materials back. It was up and down Hwy 1 over Hai Van Pass. It was a booger. 5 ton 6x6 loaded with pallets of 155 shels and a couple of bridge trailers with Sea Land Containers lashed to them.

As I recall I think the Sea Land container ships called at Da Nang about one a month and more frequently down country some where. Possibly Cam Rahn Bay, but I am not 100% sure of theat last.

Seatrain and Sea Land were different companies.  Sea Land was founded by Malcom McLean the originator of containerized shipping.  The company changed hands several times and ended up being owned by CSX for a period of time until CSX sold the line to A. P. Moller - Maersk in 1999

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea-Land_Service

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by GSDLA on Sunday, April 05, 2015 11:10 PM

Dear Durval,

I just read  your post that you were looking for WW II log books for the USAT SEATRAIN TEXAS.  I am researching for my my father-in-law who served as a Navy Armed Guard on the Sea Train Texas and would very much like to know if you were able to find these records.

                  Please contact me if you are able to share this                         information.

                  Thank you

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Posted by Durval on Monday, April 06, 2015 7:10 AM

Dear GSDLA

Greetings,

I discovered some records about Seatrain Texas at NARA, on NYC, but the oldest log book there is from november, 1942.

I also wrote the book "Operation Brazil - The german attack that changed the course of WWII" (in portuguese language only). There is a entire chapter in this book dedicated to SeatrainTexas. 

http://www.amazon.com/Opera%C3%A7%C3%A3o-Brasil-Segunda-Mundial-Portuguese-ebook/dp/B00SNCY5BM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1428322093&sr=8-2&keywords=opera%C3%A7%C3%A3o+brasil

Read the article about Seatrain Texas on my personal Blog at:

http://www.operacaobrasil.com/#!O-navio-que-os-nazistas-tinham-de-pegar/cd4k/0168BFD3-AEBB-46CE-BFFC-865B0F7059AB

Hope this can help you.

Regards,

Durval

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Posted by carnej1 on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 11:29 AM

My understanding of the later history of the company was that they made great strides in changing their business model to service the new container trade and started to offer serious competition to Sealand, particularly on the Northeast US to Europe routes.

 I recall seeing a documentary about the history of organized crime (La Cosa Nostra aka The Mafia) where it was claimed that Mob initiated Union problems so damaged Seatrains vital Port of New York/New Jersey operations that the company was forced into a bankrupcy it never recovered from..

 

 

"I Often Dream of Trains"-From the Album of the Same Name by Robyn Hitchcock

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Posted by Durval on Tuesday, April 07, 2015 2:48 PM

More about Seatrain Texas: The Treasure Ship (O Navio do Tesouro)

http://www.operacaobrasil.com/#!O-Navio-do-Tesouro/cd4k/552422ee0cf21933cd432ed9

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Posted by seatrain ed on Thursday, July 30, 2015 7:29 AM

I sailed on the Seatrain Texas during the Vitnam era as 2nd engineer. She came close to sinking near Saigon from a mine but damsge was not taking her out of service in 1986

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Posted by seatrain ed on Thursday, July 30, 2015 1:21 PM

 I am working on a history of the Seatrain Texas from 1940 to 1986

Of interest is the logs for dates and port of calls around 1944

I have articles on the tank run to Africa but not much after that other than one trip to France carring locomotives

 

I was on her during the Vietnam days before she got mined near Saigon

 

Thanks

 

Seatrain Ed

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Posted by wanswheel on Thursday, July 30, 2015 4:06 PM
Ed, welcome. If you missed it, Dec. 21,1967 AP article about the incident is in my post above, and here’s a link to the UPI article.
Excerpt from “Seatrain - Railroad or Steamship Line?” by Robert E. Mohowski, Classic Trains, Spring 2011
In May 1965, Transeastern Associates, Inc. acquired Seatrain Lines in an $8.5 million deal. Led by Joseph Kahn and Howard Pack, Transeastern was engaged in various ocean shipping ventures, including charters to the Military Sea Transportation Service. MSTS was created in 1949 to provide the U.S. military with sea transport for personnel and supplies and was providing ever more work for America’s merchant marine. Kahn and Peck were proponents of container service.
The railroads’ campaign against Seatrain, plus other factors, had eroded its business to the point that, in terms of domestic service, only New York-Texas City remained. Beyond that, the movement of entire railroad cars was losing favor to containers. The new owners recognized that Seatrain was exhausting Graham Brush’s 1928 technology, and they were seeking new ways forward. In May 1966, with the expanding war in Vietnam demanding increased transport service to Southeast Asia, Transeastern announced that Seatrain had been awarded an $11 million government contract for use of its ships with “multipurpose cargo systems” in military transport. The first Seatrain vessels to enter this service were Seatrain Texas, New Jersey and Savannah. They were part of an armada of cargo ships engaged in Vietnam-related work that in 1967 numbered more than 500, representing 40 percent of the nation’s merchant marine capacity.
 
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Posted by seatrain ed on Friday, July 31, 2015 2:12 PM

THANKS

 

The newspaper article was very interesting

I have a picture of the hole in shipyard

 

Ed

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Posted by wanswheel on Friday, July 31, 2015 5:08 PM
No idea where or when.
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Posted by wanswheel on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 1:55 AM

1929 video of Seatrain Montreal

https://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A51565

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 1:30 PM

wanswheel
1929 video of Seatrain Montreal

https://mirc.sc.edu/islandora/object/usc%3A51565

What a slow and labor intensive operation.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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