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Mariner-Class Cargo Vessel

Maritime Administration design type C4-S-1A

The final ships designed by the U.S. Maritime Commission, the Mariner-class, did not go into production until after the U.S. government had reorganized the agency as the Maritime Administration under the Department of Commerce.  The successors to the war-era Victory ships and standard “C” types, the Maritime Administration built 29 Mariners for six of the larger U.S. shipping companies between 1952 and 1955.

Mariner -class ships were 564 feet long, had a capacity of 14,000 deadweight tons, and an operational speed of 20 knots, making them some of the largest and fastest ships in the world when they debuted.

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By the 1970s, as containerized cargo became the norm, the Mariner –class, which could not efficiently carry containers in holds designed for break-bulk cargo, fell out of favor with U.S. shipping companies who sold many of them for scrap.  Some vessels of the class, however, including Evergreen Mariner and Empire State Mariner, were acquired by the U.S. Navy and went on to long careers. Empire State Mariner went on to become USS Observation Island, and served as a missile range instrumentation ship and later a missile test platform until 2014.


Detailed view of the vessel’s house amidships.


Detailed view of stern weather deck and booms.


Detailed view of the foremost cargo hatches.


Detailed view of the stern, propeller, and rudder.


(Maritime Administration Heritage Asset, Object 2011.001R.0069)