USS History

USS is a not-for-profit charitable corporation organized in1942 under the laws of the state of New York and receiving support from the United States Government pursuant to Public Law 91-603 (10 USC 2604). The USS statute (Seamen’s Service Act) was patterned after the statute chartering the American Red Cross. The legislative history of the USS statute (PL 91-603) makes it clear that Congress intended USS to receive treatment similar to the Red Cross in its dealings with Federal agencies.

The USS mission is to promote the welfare of American seafarers and their dependents, seafarers of all nations, U.S. Government military and civilian personnel, and other persons engaged in the maritime industry. As noted above, USS enjoys a special status under United States law (Title 10, United States Code Section 2604). That statute specifically recognizes USS facilities and services being provided for United States merchant seamen are in support of United States commitments abroad. The statute also addresses Department of Defense (DoD) cooperation with, and assistance to, the USS in establishing those facilities and providing services. Implementation of the statute is effected by DoD Directive 1000.26E, with MOU between DoD and USS, dated 25 August 2010.

The United Seamen’s Service is in its 74th year of service to the American and international seafarer. Founded in 1942, the USS helps a group of workers who are an essential part of the international transportation system. Throughout its history, USS has provided relief and assistance to the American Merchant Marine and other seafarers of the world, as well as to the U.S. armed forces abroad. As far back as World War II, USS established rest homes and provided care to seafarers around the world. Nearly 74 years later, whether in time of war or in time of peace, USS continues to provide for the needs of seafarers.

Today, in six facilities in seven port locations throughout the world, seafarers find a safe and friendly environment where they can relax, take care of their personal needs and connect with loved ones “back home”. Such access helps the seafaring life of solitude, loneliness and separation from family become more bearable. The USS focus on these issues is vital because without professional seafarers, the maritime industry cannot remain viable. The international seafaring community has clearly demonstrated the need for the USS presence around the world. In 2015, 129,000 seafarers visited our centers. Also, a total of 290,000 social services were provided with 1,700 seafarers receiving counseling and referral for personal or professional problems. And, over the course of the year, the American Merchant Marine Library Association (AMMLA), placed over 155 seagoing libraries on America flag and allied vessels in coordination with the Maritime Administration and Military Sealift Command.

With the country still in conflict, American merchant mariners continue to work to support U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. The delivery of services to U.S. pre-positioning crews and U.S. fleet sailors continues to be a priority for USS. Our centers in Diego Garcia, Okinawa, Pusan, and Bremerhaven work closely with military commands in those locations to meet the needs of U.S. flag pre-positioning crews.