Above: NYC Public Charities & Correction's school-ship, Mercury, based at Hart Island circa 1869-76

St. Mary's, NYC Bd. of Ed.'s own school-ship 1874 - 1907.
NY Reform
School Ship

Part 7: 1913 & 1946
The school-ship Newport taken over from NYC Bd. of Ed. by NYS circa 1913.

'Bad Boys' Ship vs. 'Good Boys' Ship

One might have thought that once the nautical school had a vessel of its own, equipped for teaching both sail and steam transport to its cadets, thereby keeping pace with marine technology, that its managers would have acted less defensively. Apparently not so.

After presenting diplomas to 28 graduates at commencement exercises aboard the Newport Sept. 22, 1908, Board of Education president Egerton L. Winthrop announced that

. . . . . . . . the Newport should no more be known as "school ship," implying that it was a place for bad boys, but that it should be known as a "training ship," which fitted New York boys for an honorable career on the sea.


The above -- showing the garden side view of the Muttontown Road, L.I., house of 1905-1913 era NYC Board of Education President Egerton L. Winthrop -- is from American country houses of today (1915, Architectural Book Publishing Co.). He had been named to the school board by Democrat Mayor George B. McClellan.

Once called Muttontown Meadows, the house is now known as Nassau Hall and is the home of Nassau Parks Conservancy.

A descendant of Massachusettes Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop, Egerton was an attorney and banker active in NYC civic matters and in Newport, Conn., and Long Island "high society." He was an officer of the fox-hunting Meadow Brook Club in Westbury as well as a number of other prestigious social oganizations such as the Knickbocker, Century, Union, City and Metropolitan Clubs

Click image for Google Books version. Use "back" button to return.

The NYT next day story noted that the graduation took place in the middle of the East River where the "training ship" lay at anchor.

The New York Nautical School had a modern ship for training the boys but no land base.

One might also have thought that once the nautical school had obtained the Newport after so much concerted effort, that its managers and supporters would be less inclined to have NYC surrender the training program and its "new" ship. Apparently not so.

Poetic Tribute to Pile of Burnt Ship Timbers

At the fifth annual banquet of the Alumni Associatiion of the New York Nautical School Feb. 13, 1909, Board of Education ship committee chairman Richard B. Aldcroft called attention to the fact that the school's costs were running about $680 per pupil, making it the most expensive public school in the city system.

#1 of 4: St. Mary's 1902 grad Ross Gilmore Marvin

St. Mary's 1902 grad Ross Gilmore Marvin shown above aboard Robert E. Peary's 1909 North Pole expedition ship, Roosevelt. A 1905 civil engineer grad of Cornell, he was an instructor there until joining the "Artic Club" adventure. Click image to accesss source, the Project Gutenberg EBook of Peary's The North Pole, originally published in 1910 by Frederick A. Stokes Co. Use "back" button to return.
Capt. Hatzel proposed the ship school be spun off with its own board of trustees "like the City College."

The annual alumni event, usually a happy social occasion, had its note of sadness.

The St. Mary's on which all the assembled alumni had sailed and learned their sea craft, lay on a Boston beach as a pile of burned debris.

About three months earlier she had been sold to Boston ship-breakers who took her appart for what could be salvaged and burned her to retrieve the iron in her.

According to a NYT story about five months earlier (Sept. 10, 1908), the alumni association had hopes that Gov. Hughes could prevail upon the Navy to release the old ship for use as a nautical museum run by the alumni.

The February 14, 1909 NYT report about the alumni dinner quoted the opening lines of a poem read in her honor:

#2 of 4: St. Mary's 1902 grad Ross Gilmore Marvin

St. Mary's grad Marvin -- shown above prone behind a snow barrier making a meridian reading near North Pole -- was toasted at Feb. 13. 1909, alumni fete. Click to accesss image source, Project Gutenberg EBook of Peary's The North Pole. Use "back" button to return.
Our boat was beached on a Boston shoal,

Where the junkman swings his sledge;

Where her ribs were rent and only her soul

Was left for her boys to pledge.

But yearly this phantom ship will sail

On the mystic mere of mem'ries

And what e'er betide, no man can fail

In his love for old St. Mary's.

#3 of 4: St. Mary's 1902 grad Marvin stones memorial.

Following the report of St. Mary's grad Marvin drowning April 10, 1909 a cenotaph of stones was erected as a memorial at Cape Sheridan. Click to accesss image source, Project Gutenberg EBook of Peary's The North Pole. Use "back" button to return.


In 1912, Board of Education president Egerton L. Winthrop Jr., named Michael J. Sullivan as chairman of the nautical school committee, replacing long-time chairman Richard B. Aldcroft who continued as a committee member.

The following year, Aldcroft was no longer a board member and Sullivan no longer nautical school committee chairman.

A Feb. 14, 1913 NYT story noted the chairmanship and committee membership appointments by then newly elected school board president Thomas V. Churchill:

John R. Thompson, who is appointed chairman of what may be called the moribund committee of the Nautical School, as it is the intention of the board to abolish the school, was the only member who refused last February, after Mr. Winthrop was elected, to make the election unanimous.

The headline and first paragraph sentences of a June 2, 1912 NYT report about the Newport cruise to Plymouth, England, begun May 21, declared:

European Cruise of the City Training Ship
Newport, Which Leaves New London
Wednesday, May End the School After
Thirty-eight Fruitful Years

. . . . It is at present the plan of the Board of education to make this the last cruise of the schoolship. . . . The school has on it at present seventy cadets of good families . . . .

#4 of 4: St. Mary's 1902 grad Ross Gilmore Marvin murdered?

Shown in the Peary Artic expedition book photo above with Capt. Robert Bartlett, right, and another Inuit is an Inuit nicknamed "Harrigan," left, who figured in the confession of an Inuit named Kudlooktoo (not in photo) concerning Ross G. Martin's 1909 death.

The confession, which came to world attention in 1926 after Kudlooktoo's conversion to Christianity, indicated Marvin, under polar discovery race stress, began exhibiting bizarre beheavior during a four-man (Marvin & 3 Inuit) sled trek back to the ship. He accused Harrigan of slowing them down and, by words and actions, seem to threaten to leave him behind unless the pace quickened.

The Inuit took the threat seriously, not merely as a way to get them to move faster. So Kudlooktoo fatally shot him and made up the drowning story.

An investigation concluded a tragic miscommunication prompted Kudlooktoo to act in the belief he was saving Harrigan's life.

A more detailed account can be found in Google Books version of "Muskox land" by Lyle Dick (University of Calgary Press, 2001)

The "of good families" reference -- a seemingly gratuitous insertion -- could hardly have been introduced into the story for any other reason except to dispell any lingering impression some readers still might have had that this was the sailing reformatory from four decades earlier.

Presumably the phrase "of good families" was a euphemistic way of reassuring conscientious parents that their sons would not be associating with the "bad boys" about whom school board president Winthrop had been so exercised that he wanted the Newport known as a training vessel, not a "school ship."

The unspoken implication: Good boys come from good families and learn to become good seamen on the good ship "Newport" whereas the bad boys sent aboard the reform school ship Mercury came from bad families or no families at all.

Consider far-fetched that possible interpretation of the "of good families" phrase insertion?

School Ship Demise Blamed on Reformatory Image

Then how about the following subheads over the NYT Jan. 23, 1913 Board of Education meeting story?

High Cost of Maintenance and Fact
That Parents Regard It as a
Reformatory the Reasons.

The main head decks and the first 12 of the story's 13 paragraphs were devoted to the board's recinding an order by the school system's superintendent that, in effect, had banned Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice" because some parents found the character Shylock offensive.

The 13th and last paragraph of the printed story was:

The board also voted to place the school ship Newport out of commission and to close the nautical school on Oct. 31, owing to the high cost of maintaining it.

George A. Blauvelt

The above image of George A. Blauvelt, whose State Senate bill helped establish the NYS Nautical School, accompanied a bio essay in the New York State Historical Association's 1922 Quarterly Volume 20. Click to accesss. Use "back" button to return.
That one sentence provided the basis for the "High Cost of Maintenance" phrase in the subhead.

The one or more sentences that provided the basis for the "Parents Regard It as a Reformatory" phrase of the subhead must have been cut from the metal lines of type in the composing room to make the story "fit."

Seemingly on cue, State Senator George A. Blauvelt of Rockland in early March 1913 introduced bill to establish a state nautical school with enrollment open to applicants from all parts of the state.

A member of a Dutch-ancestry family that settled in New York's Tappan area, Blauvelt was elected Rockland County School Commmissioner at age 27 in 1893, Assemblyman in 1910 and State Senator in 1912.

He chaired the education committee of each legislative house.

The Republican served many years as trustee of the NYS Historical Association and was elected by his fellow trustees as president in 1922 and 1923.

The Blauvelt bill to set up the state nautical school provided for an initial appropriation of $100,000 and for the governor to appoint the board members to run it.

The NYT March 6 story said:

. . . an effort will be made to obtain the United States ship Newport for the use of the school. This is the vessel used by the New York City Nautical School. The Board of education recently voted to put the vessel out of commission and close the school on Oct. 31.

Chamber Narrative of School Voyage to Oblivion

A report from a 1914 volume of Chamber of Commerce proceedings provides an excellent narrative of events -- from May 6, 1912 through to May 1, 1913 -- relative to the then doubtful future of the nautical school:

Jacob W. Miller

Son of a U.S. Senator of New Jersey with the same first name and middle initial, Jacob W. Miller (above) graduated the Naval Academy in 1867 and served in European, Pacific and West Indian regions before being assigned to canal projects in Central America.

During one interval between oversee assignments, Miller taught ordnance and gunnery at Annapolis.

In civilian life, Miller involved himself in steamship and railroad ventures and helped organize the NYS Naval Militia with which he held the rank of Commodore.

During the Spanish-American War he returned to the Navy and served as a Lieutenant Commander.

Active in the Chamber of Commerce, Miller was credited with being largely instrumental in inducing the state to take over the school ship Newport when NYC and its Board of Education discontinued the appropriations for its maintenance. He became chairman of the governing board of the State Nautical School.

In 1917, he sought to gain a land base for the school ship Newport whose small size limited the number of cadets it could accommodate. Miller argued land housing could accommodate on shore cadets who, by a redesign of the curriculum schedules, could alternate with those aboard the at-sea classes.

Miller was a Commissioner of Pilots of NY harbor and lay manager of the Seamens' Church Institute.

Click image to access its source Google Books Search web page from 1918 Volume 2 of Shipping: a weekly journal of marine trades published by Shipping Publishing Co. Use "back" button to return.

. . . On May 6, 1912, [Jacob W. Miller, Chairman of the Council of the Nautical School] received a communication from the Board of Education that an important meeting would be held on May 8th which was attended by the members of the Council.

. . . M. J. Sullivan, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Nautical School of the Board of Education, reported that it was very doubtful, if the city could continue the nautical schoolship on account of the large expense incident thereto.

Whereupon your Council after discussing the question with a committee from the Maritime Exchange, and one from the Alumni of the Nautical School, decided to go to Washington and impress upon our representatives there, the necessity of making an appropriation for the nautical school under the Act of Congress dated March 4, 1911. A visit to Washington was made on May 21st, and an interview had with our congressmen and senators who seemed friendly, but no appropriation was made by the last Congress.

During January 1913, a bill was introduced into the legislature at Albany looking towards the discontinuance of the Nautical School Ship as a city institution.

As soon as this came to our knowledge we entered into negotiations with the Maritime Association of the Port of New York, the National Board of Steam Navigation, the Marine Society of New York, the Board of Trade and Transportation of New York and the Navy League. Various meetings were held with the view of maintaining the schoolship under the authority of the state.

The Chamber of Commerce, also, at its March meeting passed resolutions advocating a proper bill by the legislature to this effect. Senator George A. Blauvelt introduced a bill known as Senate Bill No. 1279; the Mayor advocated it; Mr. Gerhard of this Council attended with others a hearing at Albany on March 26th ; the legislation was passed and known as Senate Bill 1279 and Assembly Bill 1784. It was signed by the Governor on Thursday, April 17th.

. . . It provides for a Board of Governors, one of whom shall be a member of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

Gov. William Sulzer

Above: Image of Gov. Wm Sulzer is on the cover of Google Books Search's digital version of Tammany's treason: impeachment of Governor Sulzer; the complete story written from behind the scenes, showing how Tammany plays the game, how men are bought, sold and delivered. Written by Jay W. Forrest and James Malcolm and published by the Fort Orange Press in 1913, this unapologetically pro-Sulzer account is useful in what it reveals about how Tammany Hall worked up a campaign finances audit to provide "grounds" for removing from office someone whom its leader was happy to see go.

Whatever the facts may have been about Suzler's campaign finances, some historians stress his removal was engineered by Boss Charles Murphy who could not abide the progressive governor's independence. Others, while acknowledging Murphy's antipathy to him, fault the Sulzer's own fast and loose dealings as providing the ammunition with which his foes brought him down. See Mark Grossman's Political corruption in America.

Click to accesss. Use "back" button to return.

Names 8
to a
'New School
to be known
as the NY

At the Chambers May 1, 1913, meeting where the above report was given, a short letter from Governor William Sulzer was read, explaining he had just signed the bill and was enclosing a copy of it along with the memorandum about it that he had prepared and filed with the bill.

The text of that memorandum was not included in the 1914 chamber proceedings volume.

However, the texts of that memorandum and other related documents are included in The State Department Reports of the State of New York 1913 Vol. III [beginning bottom of Page 483 of Google Book Search version].

Particularly interesting is the letter of July 9, 1913 from Gov. Sulzer to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Sir. I have received your letter of the 23d ultimo, asking whether or not the services of the Newport as a nautical school-ship are still urgently needed.

Eugene T. Moran tugboat

Library of Congress photo shows the tugboat Eugene F. Moran working alongside the another tug, nudging the Caronia into pier in 1961, the year that the "grand old man of Moran Towing," Eugene J., died at age 89.

The company was founded by his father in 1860.

In addition to commanding the world's largest fleet of tugs (each with large "M" on its smokestack), Eugene served a half century as chairman of the Maritime Association's committee on rivers, harbors and piers and served as Port Authority commissioner 1942 - 1959, the last four as vice-chairman.

During WWI, he had served in the Navy, leaving as a lieutenant commander.

Moran was one of the NYS Nautical School's original governors appointed by Gov. Sulzer.

Click image for source. Use "back" button to return.

In reply, permit me to inform you that chapter 332 of the Laws of 1913 of this state provides for the maintenance of a school for the education of pupils from the various counties of the state in the science and practice of navigation.

It is also provided that in the event of the board of education of the city of New York deciding to discontinue the New York Nautical School and notifying the Governor of such intention and of the purpose of the city of New York to transfer to the state the present training ship Newport, the governor shall appoint a board of governors to consist of a commissioner of education and eight appointed members to conduct a new school to be known as the New York State Nautical School.

The course of action suggested in the law has already been followed by the board of education and myself. . . . .

I have appointed as the board of governors of the New York State Nautical School under the act the following named:

Jacob W. Miller, of New York city, who is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York, Executive Department.

Eugene F. Moran, of New York city, a member of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York.

Henry M. Randall, of Brooklyn, a member of the Marine Society and its president.

Fred B. Dalzell ad

Fred B. Dalzell's ad in the Official souvenir programme of the grand reception to the nation's hero, Admiral George Dewey, New York Harbor, 1899 published by G.C. Parker in 1899. Dalzell became one of the NYS Nautical School's original governors appointed by Gov. Sulzer.

Click image for source. Use "back" button to return.

Fred B. Dalzell, of New York city, a member of the New York Board of Trade and Transportation.

John C. Hatzel, of New York City, an alumnus of the New York Nautical School.

Edwin T. Douglas, of Buffalo, a member of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce.

Charles H. Bissikummer, of Albany, member of the Albany Chamber of Commerce.

Capt. George L. Norton, of New York city, a member of the National Board of Steam Navigation.

In my memorandum approving of the law establishing a State Nautical School, I said:

TS Royalist, a UK brig

In talking July 9th, 1913 with NY State Nautical School governing board members he had appointed two weeks earlier, Gov. Sulzer referenced how at age 12 he served as a cabin boy 11 months aboard a merchant brig William H. Thompson that rounded Cape Horn and visited trading ports along the west coast of South America. He cited his boyhood maritime adventure to stress how close to heart was his commitment to promoting merchant marine training.

Before meeting with the governor, the board at its first session elected Commodore J. W. Miller, from the NY Chamber of Commerce, as chairman and Eugene F. Moran as secretary.

The class of sailing vessel called a brig, on which young Sulzer served, has as its distinquishing characteristic two square-rigged masts. One variation in the way sails are arrangement is shown above on the UK Sea Cadets' Training Ship Royalist. Click to access. Use browser's "back" button to return.

"I have always been strongly in favor of increasing the efficiency of our merchant marine.

I . . . have done all in my power to aid in a practical way the restoration of our merchant marine. . . .

"The time is at hand to place the American flag again where it was before the Civil War, on every sea and in every port.

We must have more ships; they must be manned by and owned by Americans. . . .

"It is a deplorable fact that our once great and powerful deep sea fleet has vanished, and that an ever-increasing fleet of foreign vessels throngs our ports and monopolizes the carrying of more than nine-tenths of our import and export commerce."

In view of the great need of the state of the services of the Newport, if the purposes outlined in the act creating the State Nautical School are to be carried out, I should greatly regret to learn of any action by the United States government which would deprive the state of the use of the ship.

. . . . the state of New York is engaged in an enterprise of a national character, which will inure greatly to the benefit of the nation.

We surely need something beyond the Naval Academy to train our boys in the science and practice of navigation, seamanship, steam and electrical engineering. New York is our greatest seaport. What more practical step could be taken in behalf of its great commerce than that which has been taken by the establishment of this State Nautical School . . . .

Daniels: Navy Desires Fostering NY Nautical Schools

Navy Secretary Daniels replied two days later, promising "for the present at least" not to take back the Newport but expressing disappointment not to have it returned "for there is a real need for that vessel in general service

Josephus Daniels

Library of Congress photo of Josephus Daniels, newspaper editor-publisher and Democratic Party power in N.C. who was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as Secretary of the Navy during World War I.

Daniels also was a friend and backer of FDR and served as his Ambassador to Mexico.

Click image to access a brief bio on a website dedicated to and run by former officers and crew members of the USS Josephus Daniels, a decommissioned guided missile cruiser. Use "back" button to return.

Sir. I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of July 9th, pointing out your wish that the Newport remain assigned to the Public Marine School of the city of New York until October thirty-first next, and that thereafter the vessel still be available for similar duty with the New York State Nautical School that will then be inaugurated.

Although the department is disappointed in not receiving information that the services of the Newport might soon be dispensed with by the state of New York, for there is a real need for that vessel in general service, yet, for the present at least, the department will take no action toward the withdrawal of the Newport from the state of New York; for the department is desirous of fostering in every practicable manner the development of such nautical schools as the state of New York has provided for.

Gov. Sulzer's reference to appointing the board of governors "to conduct a new school" and Secretary Daniels' reference to the Navy being "desirous of fostering . . . the development of such nautical schools as the state of New York has provided for" make clear they were discussing "nautical schools" plural; that is, a new school being launched as the old one ceases.

They were not discussing continuation of one school under a new name and sponsorship.

Bd. of Ed. Texts Ending Its Nautical School

Gov. Sulzer included among the materials he sent to Secretary Daniels a copy of the text of a report by the school board's executive committee outlining the steps involved in ending the state mandate that the Board of Education maintain the nautical school and in transferring the ship -- on loan from the state on loan from the Navy -- back to the state. Attached to that report were the texts of the enabling resolutions of the school board.

The school board's executive committee report read in part:

The executive committee of the Nautical School respectfully reports that chapter 321 of the Laws of 1913, entitled "An act to amend the Greater New York charter, in relation to a nautical school," amends section 1157 of the Greater New York charter so as to give the board of education of this city discretion in the matter of providing and maintaining a nautical school, and that chapter 322 of the Laws of 1913, entitled "An act to provide for the maintenance and government of a school for the education and training of pupils from the various counties of this State in the science and practice of navigation, seamanship, steam and electrical engineering,'' authorizes the establishment and maintenance of the New York State Nautical School, provided that the board of education of the city of New York decides to discontinue the nautical school now maintained by it and notifies the governor of its intention, etc.

The school board's enabling resolution of January 22, 1913 -- involved with the end to the state mandate requiring the Board of Education to maintain the nautical school -- read in part:

Resolved, That the Nautical School maintained by the board of education of the city of New York be discontinued on and after October 31, 1913, and that the proper steps be taken to return to the United States Government the gunboat Newport, now used for the purposes of the Nautical School, the same being coupled with a resolution requesting the corporation counsel to take steps toward the amendment of section 1157 of the charter substantially as above set forth.

The school board's enabling resolutions of May 14, 1913 -- involved with facilitating transfer of the nautical school ship and related materials and equipment to the state -- read in part:

Resolved, That the board of education of the city of New York hereby declares its intention to discontinue the New York Nautical School on October 31, 1913, and its purpose to transfer to the state the training ship Newport and the equipment now used by said school, consisting of books, charts, instruments, apparatus and supplies.

Resolved, That the president of the board of education be, and he is hereby, requested to notify the governor of the state of the adoption of the foregoing resolution and to inform him that the training ship Newport will not be required for the purposes of the board of education after October 31, 1913.

In reviewing the newspaper stories and various documentation of 1912-13 related to the nautical school ceasing as a NYC operation and becoming a NYS operation, one is struck by how the moves of the principles involved resemble an 18th Century Cotillion or a ballet.

Gov. Alfred E. Smith

The Gov. Al Smith photo -- from which the above Library of Congress image derives -- was taken in 1923, the same year that legislation he backed put the NY State Nautical School under the State Education Department supervision, a step moving away from the maritime industry governance set forth in the state school's founding law enacted only a decade earlier (Chapter 322, Laws Of 1913).

Chapter 398 of the Laws 1923 amended the Education Law to vest supervision of the school ship in the state education agency.

In the years that followed, the role of the education department in the actual governance of the school expanded. Still, the maritime industry organizations' active participation in its development continued -- advising, promoting, and facilitating.

For a brief bio on the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation website, click above image. Use browser's "back" button to return here.

Although the closest Al came to maritime life were seven years spent as a teenager working in the Fulton Fish Market, at least one boat has been named in his honor: the 105-foot FDNY 8,000-gallons per minute pumper fireboat (below) Gov. Alfred E. Smith, built in 1961.

For a history of FDNY' fireboat fleet, click image below. Use browser's "back" button to return here.


FDNY fireboat Gov. Alfred E. Smith
So exquisitely precise were the dove-tailing actions by the school board, legislature, governor, Navy and commercial organizations that one has more the sense of choreography than of the usually untidy political processes associated with governmental action and interaction.


As intriguing as would be more detailed speculation about the scripted aspects of the NYC school demise and the birth of the state school as its successor, this web presentation fast-forwards to when the latter ceased being a school or an academy and became a college.

In doing so, this presentation reluctantly passes over

  • the exciting 1914 rescue by the Newport of American refugees stranded in Europe as countries there mobilized for war,
  • the fascinating 1916 campaign by the school and its supporters turning back Gov. Charles Whitman's move to abolish the school;
  • Gov. Al Smith's moves first to foist the state nautical school upon the federal government (1919-1920), later to have the State Naval Militia take it over (February, 1823), and, later the same year, to vest its control in the State Education Department (over Chamber of Commerce opposition) ;
  • the curious name change from "Nautical School" to "Merchant Marine Academy" in 1929 as it sought to (a) upgrade its image from its being a vocational training school and (b) go up-scale in professional emulation of the U.S. military service academies, and
  • the very important 1934 acquisition of Fort Schuyler as its land base and its opening there in 1938.

A historical dictionary of the U.S. merchant marine and shipping industry by Rene de La Pedraja (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994, Page 583), noted

Massachusetts began to require in 1919 a high school degree for admission into its nautical school . . . the rest of the nautical schools gradually accepted this more selective standard.

A grammar school education was no longer sufficient, and more significantly, maritime training for the first time pushed into the realm of higher education. Slowly the schools began to make the transition from dealing with impressionable "boys" to attracting young adults who were taking conscious decisions about their career choices for life.

Maritime Historical Dictionary


Click image to access Google Books Search digital version of A historical dictionary of the U.S. merchant marine and shipping industry by Canisius College, Buffalo, N.Y. history professor, Dr. Rene de La Pedraja (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994). Use "back" button to return.


Dr. De La Pedraja credits the New York State Nautical School as the first among state maritime schools to realize that the two-year program was just a dead-end in higher education, given the low regard accorded degrees from two-year institutions.

He also noted the New York school was the first among state maritime schools to obtain sizeable facilities on shore.

He dated as 1940 the school's announcement of a three-year program which he characterized as yet another step "toward the inevitable four-year program" then in the future.

By 1929 when it ceased being a "nautical school" and became a "merchant marine academy, it also had ceased accepting boys in their early teens as students.

A Dec. 22, 1929 NYT story noting the name change also reported,

On an average 100 young men between the ages of 17 and 20 are in training at a time.

Even before the ink was barely dry on documents allowing Merchant Marine Academy use of Fort Schuyler, the NYT ran a two-sentence squib April 29, 1934 that the curriculum would be revised to provide a four-year term of instruction when the school's shore plant opened, "according to Captain J. H. Tomb, superintendent."

Even before the Merchant Marine Academy moved into Fort Schuyler, its managers were discussing its becoming a four-year college. A Feb. 16, 1936 NYT story about their meeting in the Maritime Exchange carried a subhead "4-YEAR COURSE PROPOSED" and reported:

Some of the shipping men . . . said that graduates . . . were not qualified to assume bridge duty upon graduation, yet felt themselves too far advanced to start their practical careers as abled-bodied seamen. Others said the course should be extended from two to four years to prepare the students for bridge duty upon graduation. . . .

A March 13, 1938 NYT story extensiving quoting Captain James H. Tomb, academy superintendent, reported:

To broaden the wholly technical curriculum with academic courses, the school, which is under the supervision of the State Department of Education, will go on a three-year basis starting in October 1939.

However, the curriculum at the time of its Fort Schuyler land base dedication in May, 1938 was a two-year program in marine engineering and navigation for high school graduates selected by competitive exams in August. Grads would eligible for third mate or third assistant engineer licenses. The academy began at the fort with 133 enrolled.

The first commencement held by the New York Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler on Long Island Sound,

L.I. Sound Maritime Training Triangle?


The waters of the East River and the Long Island Sound meet near SUNY Maritime College, the Bronx, lower left. The above map depicts how that campus at Fort Schuyler, the campus of the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Nassau County, lower right, and the site of the former "campus" of the NY's first nautical school at Hart Island, the Bronx, top, form a sort of "maritime training triangle."

a short distance west of Hart Island, took place Sept. 30, 1938, and saw 31 diplomas given to grads in the mess hall, one of several two-story ex-fort buildings that the WPA fixed up for the nautical school. The rites had been planned for outdoors but rain forced it indoors.

In 1940, diplomas went to 43 cadets in the deck department and 32 to in the engine department.

By 1941, the number receiving diplomas at the Sept. 27th graduation had risen to 92 but that was for completion of the two-year course. The country was not yet at war but Gov. Herbert Lehman's address urged unity and preparedness in defense of democracy and religion versus the dictatorship and paganism of the Nazis.

On occasion of what NYT education writer Leonard Buder heralded in his Dec. 18, 1949 column as the 75th anniversary of the New York State Maritime College, he wrote:

In 1946 . . . the school was elevated to full college status. Last April [1949] its name was changed to the New York State Maritime College. The college received authority to award the Bachelor of Science degree to graduates of the deck course and the Bachelor of Marine Engineering degree to graduates of the marine engineering course. . . . . .

Captain James H. Tomb


Captain James Harvy Tomb, above left, Commanding Officer of USS Aroostook, in May 1919 shakes hands with aviator Lt. Cmdr. Patrick N.L. Bellinger, on board the Navy's 3,800-ton WWI minelayer and post-WWI aviation support vessel that refueled Navy seaplanes making transoceanic flights.

Appointed superintendent of the NY State Nautical School in April 1927, Tomb presided over its transformation into a "merchant marine academy," its advancement toward status as a college, and its obtaining and making Fort Schuyler into its land base. This first superintendent of the NYS Merchant Marine Academy at Fort Schuyler became the first superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. Appointed in April 1942, Tomb presided over its construction and retired two weeks after its dedication in Sept. 1943.

Click image for its Naval Historical Center web page. Use "back" button to return.

33 Years:
Vocational School
Maritime College

Thus, one may note that, in state hands, a city public vocational school program to train boys to become seamen was transformed within 33 years into a college program for maritime officer training.

The observation is not made to quarrel with the result of the New York State Nautical School evolving into the SUNY Maritime College, but rather to call attention to the evolutionary process.

An evolutionary process does not happen in a vaccum.

The New York State Nautical School did not emerge from a vaccum in 1913.

Its immediate predecessor was the NYC Board of Education's New York Nautical School.

Nor did the latter entity emerge from a vaccum in 1874.

Its immediate antecedent was the NY City/County Public Charities and Correction nautical school -- with its ship Mercury -- based at Hart Island on Long Island Sound 1869 - 1876.

Part 8 enlarges this argument for recognition of Hart Island nautical school's antecedent role in origins of the Maritime College at Fort Schuyler on Long Island Sound.

8 Parts of Saluting NY Reform School Ship as SUNY Maritime College Ancestor?
Part 8 can be read as either an Introduction or a Summation.
Click underlined phrases below to access.
Part 8: Argument for Saluting NY Reform School Ship as SUNY Maritime College Ancestor
Part 1:
1837 -
Part 2:
1867 -
Part 3:
1869 -
Part 4:
1872 -
Part 5a:
1874 -
Part 5b:
Part 6:
Part 7:
1913 &
Table of Contents: Lists each part's subsection titles, each entry linked to its respective subsection.

Off-site links:
School Ships of the Maritime Academies on Bnet.
St. Mary's pre-school ship history on Naval Historical Center's website.
Newport's pre-school ship history on Naval Historical Center's website.
History of Fort Schuyler on website of Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler.
Training Ships list, dates, images, details on website of Maritime Industry Museum.

To: NYCHS home page.
To NYC DOC history menu page.