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Jewish Agency Plans to Establish Merchant Marine for Passenger and Freight Service

Plans for a national Jewish merchant marine to operate passenger and freight services between Palestine and other countries have been announced by the Jewish Agency.

A Reuter report from Jerusalem says that a corporation will be formed for this purpose with capital of $4,000,000, which will be increased later. Many of the 1,500 young Palestine Jews who joined the British Navy at the outset of the war and who are now being demobilized are expected to be given employment in the Jewish merchant marine.

The dispatch disclosed that seven of the ten Jewish-owned ships of Palestinian registry which were operated before the war, were lost as a result of enemy action. All ten vessels together with their captains and crews, were pressed into service in 1939. At present, including replacements, there are only six Jewish ships flying the Palestinian flag.

“Four years ago,” the report says, “a Jewish captains, officers and seamen union was formed to protect the professional interests of Palestinian seafarers. Its membership today totals 325, of whom 73 are officers, engineers and radio operators and the rest seamen and engine room staff. The shipbuilding industry in Palestine is also showing signs of life. A Tel Aviv shipyard has been making steel and concrete ships which proved navigable as fishing vessels on short cruises, though, as they are flat-bottomed, they tend to wallow a little. Two minesweepers were built for the British Navy at this Tel Aviv yard, while other vessels ranging from motor launches to small schooners have come off the stocks at Haifa shipyards.”

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