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295RAdm. Thomas J. Patterson died 1 October 2008

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  • Phelps Hobart
    Oct 3, 2008
      Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, USMS (Ret.) died 1 October in New York. He was an active Navy League life member and a charter member of the Pacific Merchant Marine Council. He was a wonderful individual, a fine officer, and an inspiring influence to countless mariners. God bless.
      Information about the Admiral is below; it includes a message he sent the council in April. In addition a tribute letter from Carl Nolte, Chairman of the Board, National Liberty Ship Memorial S.S. JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, is attached and posted in the documents section as it is a pdf file.
      A memorial service will take place Sunday 1300, 5 October, at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point. There will likely be additional services later - aboard the O'BRIEN and elsewhere. I will keep you posted.
      If one should choose to make a donation in Admiral Patterson's memory, the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association is one possibility, http://www.usmmaaa.com; another is the S.S. JEREMIAH O'BRIEN, http://www.ssjeremiahobrien.org.
      The Pacific Merchant Marine Council's Luncheon Meeting aboard the O'BRIEN 1130, Monday, 8 December will be dedicated to him. We will have an opportunity to reminis. Contributions from the council and luncheon attendees will be given to a representative of the ship. All are welcome to attend this special occasion.
      Phelps Hobart, President
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS










      Retired Rear Admiral Thomas J. Patterson, the founder and for years the guiding light of the National Liberty Ship Memorial S. S. JEREMIAH O'BRIEN.

      World Ship Award

      It was the ‘’best ever’’ Maritime Week Cruise, said Admiral Tom Patterson of the Saturday voyage of the Jeremiah O’Brien on 17 May 2003. Not only was the weather superb, the crowd of over 600 appreciative, but the ship received the Maritime Heritage Award from the World Ship Trust.

      In the world of nautical preservation, this award is the equivalent of the Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize. On hand to present the award to the O’Brien was Jacques Chauveau, chairman of the World Ship Trust. He read a letter from Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and the husband of Queen Elizabeth, hailing the two ships as models of the fine art of preserving and operating historic ships. Chauveau made particular note of the O’Brien’s role in the D-Day landing in 1944, and the ship’s even more remarkable return to Normandy in 1994. Of all that vast armada—the largest ever assembled—the O’Brien was the only ship to return 50 years later. And she steamed half way around the world to make it, with a crew of World War II veterans.

      Tom Patterson graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy during World War II and immediately went to sea. He had a career in the Navy, and became interested—and passionate about—World War II Liberty Ships. After the war, he served aboard the USS Guardian, a Liberty Ship that had been fitted with extensive radar surveillance equipment and used as a top secret radar picket ship. He took command of the ship in a fierce Atlantic hurricane in 1955. (see story on page 10).

      Later, Patterson served as Western Regional Director of the Maritime Administration. The Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay was one of his responsibilities, and it was there that he first saw the Jeremiah O'Brien, which was one of a number of Liberty Ships then being kept for future use. The class was obsolete, but Patterson and some associates decided to single out one of the ships which they hoped to convert into a memorial to the men and women who built the wartime Merchant Fleet and the Merchant Marine and Navy sailors who crewed them.

      His eye fell on the O'Brien, which was the best preserved of the lot. He helped form the National Liberty Ship Memorial, and was on hand when the O'Brien steamed out of the Reserve Fleet under her own power.

      Patterson also served as Deputy Superintendent of Kings Point, his alma mater with the rank of Rear Admiral in the US Maritime Service. He later conceived the idea of taking the ship back to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of D-Day and was Chairman of the committee that made the trip happen.

      He then left the O'Brien for awhile, but was called back to service in 2000 and became Chairman of the Board. His aim was to put the ship on a sound footing, earn the respect and trust of her volunteer crew and sail her on the bay. He has been successful in all those aims. He has also earned international respect, and in 2004 was awarded the Legion of Honor from the government of France.

      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 1:50 PM
      Subject: Re: [PMMC-NLUS] Merchant Marine Panel Discussion.
      I served in the Pacific Coast District, then Western Region of  Maritime Administration from 1962 to 1982.  From 1969 until 1982, I was Western Region Director.  We carried out the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 authorized by President Nixon and drafted by Andrew E. Gibson, Maritime Administrator with a full input of the Western Region.  We worked closely with Commander Naval Surface Forces Pacific in carrying out our unified seapower program in the categories of operations, communications, training, and ship repair.  Seagoing Masters and Commanding Officers were riding on each others ships. 
      I also served as President of the Navy League, Port of the Golden Gate with 600 members and President of the Port of the Golden Gate Propeller Club.  I served as Executive Director of the Federal Executive Board consisting of sixty-six government agencies, both civilian and military. 
      President Nixon was a great Maritime oriented president.  I had the pleasure to be with him in San Diego with the Maritime Administrator.  All of these programs are now gone.  There were fifteen states in the Western Region, including Alaska and Hawaii.  We had a dynamic market development program going on in each state under the auspices of the National Maritime Council, a coalition of government, management, labor, and the shippers of cargo.  We raised the percentage of cargo carried on board US flag vessels in foreign trade by more than fifty percent.  All of these programs were turned over to the industry and MARAD was ordered to cease and desist.  Then the subsidy program for operating US flagships under US flags was phased out.  Presently the percentage of US flagships in international trade is miniscule compared to foreign flag shipping calling in US ports. 
      The present administration is concentrating on what they call short sea shipping (coastwise) and support of the Military Sealift Command, both of which bring no foreign revenue into the United States.  The demise of the Western Region and our professional mariners who ran this region is another blow to the US Flag West Coast Industry. 
      SS Jeremiah O'Brien is a living memorial, fully operational.  The US Merchant Marine suffered one of the highest casualty rates of World War II.  One of twenty-six seamen sailing their merchant ships made the supreme sacrifice.  It is a sad memorial to them seeing the US Merchant Marine decline in the trade routes of the world.  I am still active in supporting our US Merchant Marine and the SS Jeremiah O'Brien.  In October 2007 I travelled to France to thank their Minister of Defense for the support they have rendered to the National Liberty Ship Memorial and the Jeremiah O'Brien.  Their Admiral, Brac de La Perriere, head of their Normandy Memoire, together with our thirteen member committee of French citizens have supported SS Jeremiah O'Brien fully and make an annual visitation to the ship in SanFrancisco. 
      All best wishes for your continued support of the Navy League of the United States.
      RADM Thomas J. Patterson,  USMS
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