2 Replies Latest reply on Dec 15, 2020 10:36 AM by Elliot Schneider

    Seeking birth, marriage & Merchant Mariner records of Fred Phillips

    Jeff McElroy Newbie

      Greetings, I am trying to find information about my late grandfather, for my father who recently turned 86 and mentioned his regret of not knowing much about his real father. My grandfather, Captain Fred Phillips, was a merchant mariner who was lost at sea off the coast of Myken, Norway on the SS Pelagia during a hurricane on September 16. 1956, which shipped out of New York I believe.  It made the papers headlines in Seattle as several other Seattle men were lost was well and I have been able to locate the USCG Marine Board Investigation.


      I have been able to find only 2 of his vessels he served on, the SS Halcyon, about 1951 out of Virginia and the ill fated SS Pelagia in 1956. I know that Phillips shipped out of Virginia, New York, Seattle and maybe other ports of call as well. My father, Fred McElroy (mother remarried) was an only child and was deployed overseas at the time and all his father's information was lost except a few pictures and a couple of letters. We also have pictures of him on his own vessel Rainbow II out of Seattle but again, no further information and no vessel information either. We have a couple of surviving letters between father and son, one stating he was the vessel in Mozambique, The SS. Halcyon, about 1951 out of Virginia owned by the Phoenix SS Corp; New York.


      We do know he was on Attu Island during the war (photo of him in an downed Japanese fighter) but not sure in what capacity and I have been unsuccessful in locating any records of his time at Attu. I am hoping if I could locate his mariner records or captains license I might have better luck. Could you be so kind as to point me in the right direction to locate any information about his activities or where I might find records of his merchant documents? I am in the hopes of compiling a book for my father of his father's life. As the son of a son of a sailor, I followed in his footsteps by serving in the United States Coast Guard and recently achieved my 100t Captains License on a vessel of my own, hence my desire to find out more about my grandfather, the Captain. Thank you for any and all suggestions.

        • Re: Seeking birth, marriage & Merchant Mariner records of Fred Phillips
          Jason Atkinson Ranger

          Dear Mr. McElroy,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          The Merchant Marine Personnel and Licensing Records dated prior to 1968 in the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (Record Group 26) are in the custody of the National Archives at St. Louis (RL-SL). Please contact RL-SL via email at stl.archives@nara.govInclude the name, date of birth, dates of service, "Z" number, and date of death, if known, in your email.


          Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RL-SL. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


          In regards to marriage licenses and birth certificates, the Federal Government does not ordinarily create or maintain birth or marriage records.  Such records are made and kept by State and local governments rather than the National Archives. Please contact the state archives where he was born, as well as the one where he was married. Please see Where to Write for Vital Records for more information.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!

          • Re: Seeking birth, marriage & Merchant Mariner records of Fred Phillips
            Elliot Schneider Ranger



            Please see the link for the USCG Investigative report on the SS Pelagia. Please copy and paste link into your web browser.





            Hope this helps,


            Elliot Schneider