Figari, Captain William V. ‘42

Figari, Captain William V. ‘42

Captain Figari recounted to George Ryan on February 19, 2013 some of his long maritime career. He had a career objective to become a San Francisco Bay Pilot. He graduated from the University of San Francisco in May 1941 and had his application to become a U. S. Maritime Commission Cadet and to receive his training in New York. The West Coast Cadet Program director Admiral Crossman sent him to Treasure Island where he was berthed on board the Delta Queen. Naval personnel trained him at the adjacent base. He was assigned to the President Harrison, but three days later he was detached and transferred to the Mooremacstar on October 15, 1941.The reason he mentioned this brief assignment is that the President Harrison was captured by the Japanese on December 7, 1941 and the crew was placed in prison of war camps for the duration of the war.

The Mooremacstar made a trip to South America. He was in Buenos Aires visiting on board the SS Argentina when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor. The ship was painted grey in some port and they proceeded back to the west coast. They departed on December 25, 1941 with military cargo for Melbourne and returned via the west coast of South America loading ore in Antofagasta and balsa wood in Guayaquil. The next trip they transited the Panama Canal to the east coast; while they were promised naval escorts none materialized. Two torpedoes were observed heading for their ship.

When they got to Ambrose Light and picked up the pilot, the Captain was told that the news was that they had been sunk. The ship was turned over to the navy on September 13, 1942 for conversion to the USS Elizabeth Stanton, (AP-69). Figari was asked by the Navy if he would accept appointment as an Ensign but he declined as his career objective remained to become a San Francisco Bay Pilot. He was detached and sent to Kings Point as a Special, Deck and he took classes with other cadets. When asked where he wanted to take his license exam he opted for San Francisco where he passed his 3rd Mate license exam. He was assigned to the Sea Pike built at Western Pipe & Steel Co and made one trip as a cargo ship; upon return to USA the ship was sent to Bethlehem Steel shipyard to be converted to a troop ship. Since there was not much for him to do in the shipyard he was asked to help with the launching of some ships by directing tugs. When his ship was converted they sailed off to the Pacific Ocean usually sailing independently; once they had a destroyer escort. They transported Australian troops to Bougainville. When back in the states he married and eventually raised his license to Master. After the war On May 2, 1947 the Marine Angel took 3,964 interned Japanese citizens from Vancouver CA to Japan. In Shanghai they returned the French settlement to Toulon, France. Yes he did become a San Francisco Bay Pilot and more.

 

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