Postal Service Salutes U.S. Merchant Marine on Forever Stamps

Stamps Depict Four Iconic Vessels

July 28, 2011 

Release No. 11-092 



Merchant Marines Ships

KINGS POINT, NY — The Postal Service today salutes the U.S. Merchant Marine by issuing 60 million Forever stamps to set sail through the nation’s mail stream starting today.

Related events will take place on the S.S. Lane Victory Liberty ship in San Pedro, CA, today and tomorrow in Baltimore, MD, on the S.S. John W. Brown Liberty ship.

“The new four-stamp pane that we are issuing today features vessels that have formed an important part of our country’s maritime history — clipper ships, auxiliary steamships, Liberty ships and container ships,” said Jim Cochrane, vice president, Product Information. “As we dedicate these stamps, we pay homage not only to the ships, but also to the valor of the thousands of dedicated members of the U.S. Merchant Marine who served their country and served it honorably.”

Joining Cochrane in dedicating the stamps at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy were David T. Matsuda, administrator, U.S. Maritime Administration; Rear Admiral Philip H. Greene, Jr., superintendent, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; and Captain Eric York Wallischeck, chief of staff, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

“The men and women who built and sailed the ships depicted in these four postal stamps have buoyed our prosperity, liberty and way of life,” said Matsuda. “Their sacrifice is worthy of remembrance, as they continue to be an integral part of America’s economy and national security.”

Drawing upon contemporary lithographs of the 19th century ships and photographs of the 20th century ships, illustrator Dennis Lyall of Norwalk, CT, created these four stamp designs under the art direction of Carl T. Herrman of North Las Vegas, NV. Text on the back of the stamp pane describes the types of vessels.

U.S. Merchant Marine
Since the founding of the republic, the United States has looked to the maritime industry for much of its growth and security. The U.S. Postal Service honors the U.S. Merchant Marine — the modern name for the maritime fleet — with four stamps featuring vessels that have played an important role in our nation's history.

The Clipper Ship stamp is based on an undated Frank Vining Smith lithograph of the famous clipper Sovereign of the Seas, which launched in 1852. Clipper ships, ushered in by the California Gold Rush of 1849 and noted for their streamlined shape and their majestic cloud of square-rigged sails, set numerous speed records in their time.

The Auxiliary Steamship stamp is based on contemporary lithographs of ships of the Collins Line, which provided service between New York and Liverpool in the 1850s. Auxiliary steamships — steam-powered ships with back-up sailing rigs — were the ocean liners of their day, competing in the 1850s with clipper and other sailing ships for trans-Atlantic mail and passenger service.

The Liberty Ship stamp is based on a photograph of an unidentified Liberty ship in the files of the Westport, CT, Public Library. During World War II, the United States built more than 2,700 Liberty ships — plain but sturdy cargo vessels that sustained the Allied forces with a steady supply of food and war material.

The Container Ship stamp is based on an undated photograph of the R.J. Pfeiffer, a modern container ship launched in 1992 and operated by Matson Navigation Company. Container ships, pioneered in the 1950s, are key to today’s global economy, carrying manufactured goods worldwide across the oceans and exemplifying the modern merchant marine.

Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

Ordering First-Day-of-Issue Postmarks
Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store website at, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

U.S. Merchant Marine Stamp
c/o Postmaster
1 Welwyn Road
Great Neck, NY 11021-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark. All orders must be postmarked by Sept. 28, 2011.

How to Order First-Day Covers
The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic Catalog. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-STAMP-24 or writing to:

Information Fulfillment
Dept. 6270
U.S. Postal Service
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

Ordering the stamps and related products
In addition to the stamps, there are four philatelic products available for this stamp issue. Also, customers can order all stamps and products online at, by calling 800 STAMP-24, or by using the mail-in order form in the USA Philatelic Catalog. Customers can subscribe to the catalog at,, or by calling 800 STAMP-24.

  • 467463, First-Day Cover Set of 4, $3.52.
  • 467468, Digital Color Postmark Set of 4, $6.40.
  • 467491, Ceremony Program, $6.95.
  • 467499, Cancellation Keepsake (4 Digital Color Postmarks w/ Pane), $15.95.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

We’re everywhere so you can be anywhere:


# # #

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. We’re everywhere so you can be anywhere: With 32,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government,, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $67 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 29th in the 2010 Fortune 500. Black Enterprise and Hispanic Business magazines ranked the Postal Service as a leader in workforce diversity. The Postal Service has been named the Most Trusted Government Agency six consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute.

Postal News

Media Contacts