Each year on May 22, the United States celebrates U.S. Maritime Day. It was officially recognized by Congress in 1933 to commemorate the American steamship Savannah, and the start of her voyage from Savannah, Georgia, to Liverpool, England.
That transatlantic voyage was the first-ever by a steamship, and a similar crossing wouldn’t be attempted by an American steamship until 1847. Congress declared National Maritime Day to recognize the more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine that served during World War II. (The Merchant Marine consists mainly of civilian vessels but also includes some federally-owned ships, that import and export goods to other countries. Merchant Mariners complete special training and certification through the U.S. Coast Guard. While they are not considered active-duty military personnel, the Merchant Marine can be an auxiliary to the U.S. Navy during times of war, being called upon to help deliver and transport military support materials and personnel, among other things.)
While much has changed in the maritime industry since National Maritime Day’s original inception, it remains an important tradition that recognizes one of our nation’s vital industries.