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Turbulent Seas

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Turbulent Seas: My Life in the American Merchant Marine
  • by Lance Orton and Barnett Singer
    • Merriam Press Personal Chronicle Series
      • Second Edition 2012
      • 176 6x9-inch pages
Lance Orton's career in the American Merchant Marine, during which he experienced an interesting, hectic, and often dangerous life on the high seas, and in a variety of ports from the mid-1960s through to the mid-1980s. What to him were fascinatingly difficult human challenges began with his cadet days and from his earliest times on the water, then continued during his first voyage as a third officer, and through his appointment as one of the youngest American captains of a very large vessel—in fact, the largest American ship ever built at that time (late 1970s), "The Golden Endeavor," then classed as a supertanker, but later downgraded to “Baby Super.”  
     Lance sailed with colorful, crazy, but sometimes gifted maritime personnel, and fought off a number of life-threatening situations, including pirate attacks, knife fights on board ship, attempted poisonings (of me), etc. I also sailed to Vietnam in the years when a merchant mariner literally took his life in his hands doing so. I had to deal with accidents and near explosions on ships, due to volatile hydrocarbons and other material we carried, but also to human error.  
     In this book you get the inside story. You also get a close view of American organizations both blessed and plagued by a variety of personalities, and especially, by the growing disease of bureaucratization and political maneuvering. And you will encounter a sad, yet comical Soviet Union before Gorbachev, where the secret police, inequities, and paranoia were rife.  
     This is one man's story that will compel the your attention.  
  • My Baptism at Sea with Captain Crofton;  
  • A Young Cadet’s Progress and Revolt;  
  • First Voyage to India;  
  • Strafing in Vietnam and American Rage;  
  • Enter the Divine Element;  
  • Incompetence and Tragedy;  
  • To Russia with Vodka;  
  • Back to American Scalawags;  
  • Returning as Captain Orton to KGB Land;  
  • Ships’ Revolvers and Revolts;  
  • Final Diagnosis—Lunacy on Board Ship!


This book details the author's extraordinary career in the American Merchant Marine. As a third officer on his second sea voyage, Orton was quickly thrown into the drama, when his captain proved to be unprepared and, indeed, incompetent, resulting in a shocking encounter with pirates and the gruesome death of an officer. The adventures continued all over the world, involving both good, and often horribly bad and violent, crew members. As Orton rose through the ranks until he became a very young captain, he had to deal with an amazing variety of people. I found the chapter about his encounters with the Russians, in those pre-Gorbachev years, to be particularly interesting. He often had to use wit, psychology, and force to deal with many extremely difficult situations. As a person who knew nothing about the Merchant Marine, I was quickly educated, and the book's revelations of raw and disturbing human nature held my attention to the end. Quite an interesting read!

Great read , all the way through! Courageous and fascinating story.

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