An American merchant mariner is a member of the U.S. Merchant Marine who serves in the American-flagged vessels other than ships of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and other U.S. Government ships. A merchant mariner is a civilian. He or she must be licensed (an officer) or documented by the U.S. Coast Guard. He or she may be called a merchant seaman or a merchant sailer but never a "merchant marine." That title marine should be reserved for members of the U.S. Marine Corps. Merchant marine is a collective title for merchant ships of a country. It is usually called "The Merchant Service" by old salts. In Great Britain, it is called "The Merchant Navy" (Appendix B: Normal organizations of a WWII merchant ship from the American Merchant Seaman's Manual) (1)
(1) Charlie M. Fuss, SS American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship (St. Petersburg, FL: Southern Heritage Press, 2006) Pg. 4
Some authorities dispute U.S. Merchant Marine casualties in WWII. It is generally agreed that 243,000 men, and few women who were stewardesses in passenger carriers, served at sea aboard merchant ships during the war. The accepted figure of those killed at sea or who died of wounds is 9,497. This ratio produces a killed rate of 3.90 percent or 1 in 26. Next in line is the U.S. Marine Corps with a 2.94 percent rate or 1 in 34. It is truly remarkable and usually unknown that a civilian organization suffered such a severe casualty rate with little public notice. The Merchant Marine survivors' battle for veteran status is a separate story. (1)
(1) Charlie M. Fuss, SS American Victory Mariners Memorial & Museum Ship (St. Petersburg, FL: Southern Heritage Press, 2006) Pg. 5
Interested in finding a relative that served in the Merchant Marines or U.S. Navy Armed Guard please follow the link below.