USS Merrick (AKA-97)

Central Group
Capt. John J. Hourihan, USN


5 DEC 46

Departed Port Hueneme, CA.

11 DEC 46

Crossed the Equator.

18 DEC 46

Transferred mail to USS Cacapon and refueled from her.

30 DEC 46

Rendezvoused with the Central Group of ships at Scott Island.

1 JAN 47

Commenced following USCGC Northwind through the pack ice.

14 JAN 47

Broke into the open waters of the Ross Sea.

15 JAN 47

Arrived at the Bay of Whales.

19 JAN 47

Moored port side to shelf ice.

22 JAN 47

Commenced off-loading supplies for Little America; remained at Bay of Whales through February 6, 1947.

6 FEB 47

Departed Bay of Whales with Central Group.

8 FEB 47

Entered southern edge of ice pack led by the USCGC Northwind and USS Burton Island.

11 FEB 47

Rudder made inoperable by the pack ice; taken in tow by Northwind.

13 FEB 47

Departed vicinity of Scott Island for Port Chalmers, New Zealand. Still in tow of the Northwind.

22 FEB 47

Arrived Port Chalmers, New Zealand.

25 FEB 47

Commenced repairs to fabricate a temporary rudder.

21 MAR 47

Repairs completed to rudder.

22 MAR 47

Departed New Zealand.

12 APR 47

Reached San Diego, CA.


Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7


Figure 8

Figure 9

The standard four-bar cancel was used on most USS Merrick mail (figure 1). Two varieties have been recorded.

Figure 2 shows an error in the year date possibly caused by a failure to change the slug after December 31, 1946. These cancels are dated in early January 1947 and are not all that scarce.

Merrick made use of the all purpose double-circle postmark but used it very sparingly. One example is known on the reverse of a cover (figure 3).

An experimental mimeograph fancy cancel has been seen on both cards and covers with a 2 February 1947 date and LITTLE AMERICA / ANTARCTICA in the killer bars. The number of pieces bearing this fancy cancel are unknown to this writer but it must be a relatively small number (figure 4).

Two different return address rubber stamps are known which provide additional documentation on Merrick mail. Of the two, figure 5 is the most common (figures 5, 6).

Certainly the scarcest of all cachets found on Merrick mail would have to be the 'bear' cachet. According to one source these covers were prepared ahead of time for crewmembers but were not supposed to be used when it was discovered that the word 'Antarctic' was misspelled and that they pictured an inappropriate polar bear in the motif. Some, however, escaped destruction and were posted by some of the crew.

Those seen by this writer are on Monarch size (#8) envelopes (figure 7).

One additional variety of cover exists to lend more spice to the mail from this vessel and that is the use of envelopes printed on the USS MOUNT OLYMPUS with the wording MAILED AT / LITTLE AMERICA in the top center portion. Only one variety of these MALA blocks (see Mount Olympus section) has been found on Merrick mail. This being Type A (figure 8).

The USS YANCEY, which was moored to the ice near the Merrick, did not have an official post office aboard (see Yancey section). As a result some of her mail was cancelled with a Merrick postmark.

Figure 9 is a splendid example that can be identified by the handwritten corner card of the Yancey's commanding officer, Capt. James E. Cohn, USN.