Kavanagh, Ed ‘44

Kavanagh, Ed ‘44

Kavanagh and Pat Kelly were deck cadets assigned to the James B. Stephens at the shipyard in Portland, OR in late 1942 along with engine cadet Henry Orndorff. He did not remember the name of the other engine cadet. Kavanagh took his preliminary training at Kings Point. He was on the Stephens until the ship was sunk on March 8, 1943. On the maiden voyage they navigated down the west coast of South America, around the horn and then over to Port Said, Egypt.

The ship was loaded with tanks and lumber on deck. They delivered the cargo to Port Said and departed for the states via Durban. On March 8, 1943 the ship was torpedoed off of South Africa, about 150 miles from Durban. Kavanagh doesn’t remember the details of the sinking or the long time in the lifeboat before getting to Durban after all it was some 70 years ago. He believes he was in #1 life boat with the Captain and the Bos’n. His job was to let go the painter when the lifeboat was afloat and boarded. He was standing in the boat when a torpedo hit and he was thrown in the water. When they landed in Durban he believes he was given a couple of pairs of shorts and a jacket probably by the Red Cross.

He was assigned to a passenger ship the Dominion Monarch. It had been converted to a troop ship and was enroute to Australia but the ship was turned around after a few days and he was landed in Durban again. Next he was assigned to the President Buchanan for repatriation along with the 3rd Mate Kennedy; he doesn’t remember standing watches so the time on board didn’t count as cadet time for his license. He was disembarked at night at Key West by a launch, taken to a bus and then to a train to NY. He spent a little time at home in Smithtown, NY before going for his next assignment. He boarded the John A. Poor as deck cadet on the 4-8 watch; it was as its name implied, a ‘poor’ ship. They blew a boiler coming down from Boston. They tried to trail the anti torpedo nets over the side but they created too much of a drag. They lost their convoy. His nightly assignment was to check that the black out covers were in place on portholes. He believes the net must have picked up a torpedo or mine and it exploded temporarily disabling them so they proceeded to St. John or St. Johns in Canada (he wasn’t sure). They made it to England and back and the whole crew signed off as he did. The Poor made a trip to the Indian Ocean where she was torpedoed and lost half of the crew and armed guard. He was assigned to the MV Artigus, Panamanian Flag and by the end of February 1944 he had his time in at sea and was ordered to the Academy as a Special. He was assigned to a group of specials in a section where he was appointed the Adjutant. He believed they looked like a bunch of prisoners marching; at one point Gunny Horton observed them responding to the command “Eyes Left” as they passed a young woman. The section was put on report and they all had to work off demerits.

He had to take two exams; one to get out of the Academy and one to pass the license. He did not spend the training time at the Academy to get any certificate of graduation.

When he left with his license, he never returned to the Academy. He had a very successful career with U.S. Lines on board ship as Master and ashore in the states and overseas.


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