This is another in our continuing series of blog posts about American-built boats that went sent to foreign countries after World War II. We have looked at vessels built for the Soviets, sent to Germany, and a research vessel sent to South Korea. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was created to help countries, especially China, to counter hunger problems by developing fisheries.This picture of the F/V Michigan, apparently built in Bellingham, was featured in the May, 1947 issue of the Aberdeen-based The Fisherman’s News.
According to various newspaper accounts from 1946-47, the US provided China with at least 72 vessels, as well as sending eleven vessels to Greece and eight to Yugoslavia. The idea was to increase protein production in countries with little food.
The story quotes two fishermen who had taken boats to China, Jerry Johannesen and Carl Salter, who had taken the North Coast and North Cape to Shanghai as part of the UNRRA program to jump start Chinese fisheries with modern technology. They said the program was hopelessly entangled in “monopolies and rackets.” The UNRRA was calling for 50 skippers to be sent to Shanghai to man the vessels that had already been delivered.
The accompanying news story quotes Lowell W. Weeks, the UNRRA director on Washington, D.C., “that the rehabilitation program in China has ‘fallen down’ comes as no surprise to the fishing industry.” The story goes on to say that fishermen had been in contact with the government about the problems with the program, which was designed to help “the starving Chinese people.” Weeks goes on to complain that items sent to China-specifically rope—was left to rot on the docks, because there was no distribution system. “From the information we have, the fishing sector of the UNRRA program in China is but a small part of the whole program and the other segments are equally inefficient.”
“Last of the Puget Sound-built vessels for China sailed from Seattle early this month. The five vessels comprise what is to be the last convoy. The vessels were the Seattle, Michigan, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Indiana. Skippers are Maurice O. Reaber, Earling C. Jacobsen, Winston C. Phalin, Henry C. Jacobsen, and George Gray.”
This Aberdeen-based monthly newspaper, started in 1945, eventually moved to Seattle and continue to publish as The Fisherman’s News.