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.