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The first home of the schoolship JOHN W. BROWN was Pier 4, East River, New York City. By 1950 the BROWN had been moved to Pier 73, East River (the former berth of the schoolship ST. MARYS) at the foot of East 25th Street. Training on the JOHN W. BROWN commenced in December 1946. Some of the students at that time were veterans of World War II who had dropped out of classes at Metropolitan Vocational High School during the war to serve on merchant ships or in the Navy. Enrollment increased and more instructors were hired. Requirements of the instructors were that they be licensed Masters (any ocean, any tonnage) and Chief Engineers (unlimited) with a teacher’s license.

Standard academic subjects were taught in the main building of Metropolitan Vocational High School with the trade subjects, deck, engine and steward, taught on the ship. In addition, courses in boat building, marine radio, marine electrician and maritime business were taught at the main building. Many of the students sailed on foreign flag ships during summer recess. Initially the students spent a week on the ship and a week at the main building, but this was changed to a half day on the BROWN and a half day at the main building.

From 1951 to 1955, 80% of the graduates from the schoolship were employed in the maritime industry and defense agencies of the government. The record of BROWN graduates for retention in the maritime industry or the government was not surpassed even by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point for this period. The Coast Guard accepted graduation from the BROWN with 30 actual hours in lifeboats plus three months’ sea time as the equivalent of one to two years at sea when approving a Lifeboat Certificate. In addition to those who graduated, at least 40% of the 17-year-old "drop outs" either went to sea or joined the Navy or Coast Guard.

An institution that was carried over from the days of the ST. MARYS was the Maritime Educational Advisory Commission. The commission consisted of representatives from the maritime community of the Port of New York: steamship companies, maritime unions, colleges, the military and government agencies. The group met aboard the ship and worked closely with the staff in advising on programs of instruction, helping students get jobs, obtaining gifts of needed supplies and fund raising. Some of the more notable members in the 1950s were:

* Captains Frank J. Taylor and Walter E. Maloney, Masters, Mates and Pilots Union    
* Joseph Curran, President, National Maritime Union    
* Commodore John S. Baylis USCG (Ret)., Former Supt. of the N.Y. State Nautical School
* Vice Admiral, L.T. Du Bose, USN, Commander Eastern Sea Frontier    
* Rear Admiral E.H. Smith, USCG   
 * Rear Admiral Gordon McClintock, USMMA, Kings Point    
* James A. Farrell, Jr., President, Farrell Lines Inc.    
* Captain Walter N. Prengel, Port Captain, Grace Lines    
* Captain J.J. Topping, U.S. Lines    
* Captain H.W. Mason, American Export Lines    
* Captain W.C. Brodie, Socony Oil Co.    
* James McAllister, President, McAllister Bros. Towing.    
* Eugene F. Moran, Sr., Moran Towing

The BROWN and her graduates had a stellar reputation in the maritime industry. Mr. Walter J. Maloney, upon his retirement as president of the American Merchant Marine Institute in 1955, wrote the following:

"The shipping industry, working with the American Merchant Marine Institute, is more than glad to play its small part in insuring that this splendid schoolship develops. We are well aware of its service to the maritime industry. A number of the Institute's fifty-five member companies have employed graduates of the JOHN W. BROWN. Their records, including two who served as masters with Farrell Lines, have been uniformly splendid.

“The Marine Industry recognized in the JOHN W. BROWN a unique educational experiment. The products of this experiment have proved their salt aboard ships of the American Flag Merchant Marine."

By late 1956 the schoolship was beset by the problems that would plague it for the remainder of its career; not the least of which was financial. Employment in the merchant marine had fallen off, and New York City was having its usual budget problems. The ship was expensive to operate, even though the students did all the maintenance and repair work. There were expenses for fuel, dry-docking, maintenance materials and supplies. Another expense was busing the students to the main building on a daily basis. The city had to determine if it was practical to keep the maritime training program going. The city had hoped to find a pier for the ship that was closer to the main building so the students need not be transported and the cost of busing could be eliminated. The Board of Education seriously considered closing down the Maritime Training Department and returning the ship to the Maritime Commission. It can only be assumed that the Maritime Advisory Board convinced the city to keep the ship going, and ways to cut costs were explored. The schoolship was granted a reprieve and continued on. One of the cost saving programs that was initiated was to return to the schedule of keeping the students on the ship for one full week, and then the following week they would go to the main building for academic studies. This schedule, which went into effect in September of 1957, did away with the need for busing but created other problems.

To be continued …