The "Propeller Club idea," which has matured into a national movement, first projected itself during the latter part of 1922 when the famed "Ship Subsidy Bill" was engaging Congressional attention.
A small group of inspired marine men met daily at a luncheon to talk over the problems of the industry with which they were all associated. As they met the luncheon group became larger. Conversation was not so easily carried on. It was thought that perhaps some shipping men might be persuaded to informally address them. The plan proved interesting and then successful. Prominent men and women were solicited and secured. The group continued to expand.
Formal organization followed informal gatherings. Thus, on January 24, 1923, the "Propeller Club of the Port of New York,"-the keel of the Propeller Club of the United States- had its first meeting as such. Thirty- three men were present. They came to look and to hear and they went away satisfied. It was decided to continue these meetings at regular intervals and the Propeller Club name was to be retained.
The energy with which the New York Club prosecuted its activities gained for it the widest publicity and attention. Each meeting saw a greater attendance than the one preceding. It became established through the regularity at the meetings, the topics discussed at the luncheons and its utilization of the radio for the presentation of shipping subjects to the lay mind in a lay manner. The service rendered to the merchant service, to the Navy, to ocean shipping and to inland waterway transportation, was recognized and applauded. The driving force, symbolized by the Propeller, was adopted as the organization’s insignia.
Boston, with its multiplicity of shipping, was not long in hearing of what was going on amount he marine men in the country’s largest port. They approved the program and express the desire to participate. Affiliation resulted, and on the 3rd of February 1927, the Propeller Club Port of Boston became a reality. The New Orleans envisioned the possibilities, and a Propeller Club was organized in that city on May 4, 1927.
Shipping being a national industry, can express itself only through a national organization. No such body existed in the United States up to that time. The need for one was apparent for a long time. The interchange of visits and of views decided that the time had arrived for such a national organization.
The nucleus was at hand, the opportunity present. At Yale University, a body of engineering students had banded themselves together as The Propeller Club of Yale University, and to them, was extended an invitation to unite with the proposed national organization. An assemblage of delegates was agreed upon and on November 9, 1927, the four Ports of New York, Boston, New Orleans and Yale University concerned at the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. When the meeting had concluded, The Propeller Club of the United States had emerged, constitution, by-laws, and all.
Today, The Propeller Club of the United States consists of more than 80 ports of which 56 are within the United States, and 32 are located overseas. Membership is over the count of 10,000. In addition, 18 student ports are embraced in this country and three overseas in universities having their curricula courses in naval architecture, marine engineering, foreign and domestic commerce, trade and transportation, business administration and economics. The development of Student Ports has proved to be one of the important features of the Propeller Club movement.
Because if its potentialities for constructive accomplishment, The Propeller Club of the United States is resolved to have a Port in every maritime locality in the country, on the coasts, the rivers and the lakes, for the purpose of clarifying the public mind on matters pertaining to American water-borne commerce. There is no greater constructive force than one which brings people together in common cause; this has been one of the chief missions of the Propeller Club, wherever established.
From the foregoing, it is readily appreciated how the interest in the objectives of the "Propeller Club idea" has spread throughout the country and to other lands. Additional ports are in the process of formation with every prospect of successful fruition. The Propeller Club of the United States is admitted to be more truly representative among maritime associations than any other and the caliber of its leadership denotes that character of what it has achieved. It stands as a monument to the foresight, industry and integrity of those who brought into being and have guided its destiny to the status it so splendidly enjoys.
Note: This message was first produced in the 1930’s. It has been updated, but the message is timeless.
To download a copy of the by-laws of the Propeller Club, Port of Norfolk please click here: Propeller Club By-Laws 12.10.19.pdf