Discovering My Great-Grandfather’s World War I Tugboat

Published: 4 October 2023

By Joe Felice
Special to the web site

John Faulkner framed

Photo of John Faulkner in his WWI uniform, restored and colorized by Diane Short, Web Administrator for Together We Served.

In August 2022, when I discovered that my great-grandfather John Faulkner served in the U.S. Shipping Board Emergency Fleet during World War I, I thought that concluded nearly three years of research into his life and service.  I could not imagine that after spending so long emailing various historical societies, museums, and archives that it was possible to learn any more.

However, I was about to be surprised.

David Winslow

In early March 2023, by luck I contacted a former Yard Bird who worked in Philadelphia for many years.  This person was able to put me in contact with their former manager.  Their manager emailed me a web link that featured a detailed timeline of the tugboat U.S.S. Samoset.  I had already learned the previous year that John served aboard the Samoset while working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.  This timeline featured that the tugboat had at one time been under the ownership of Winslow Marine Tug and Barge Services in Maine.

At the end of March I phoned Winslow Marine, and was able to speak with David Winslow.  He informed me that not only did his company own the Samoset in the late 1960s but that the tug also had a special familial connection to his own life.

David recalled how around 1968/69 his company purchased the Samoset.  By that time the tug had changed names and was known as the Oscar F. Smith. David would change the tug’s name once more to the Alice M. Winslow in honor of his grandmother.  Since the tug was named in her memory it took on a special meaning in the Winslow household.  In fact, David was able to provide photographs of the steering wheel, air scoops, and prop of the vessel.

David sold the Alice M. Winslow in the late 1980s.  A short while later, it was beached after a bad storm off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

David was especially fond of the copper air scoops.  During our phone call he shared with me how he and his father restored the air scoops after having them removed from the tug during a renovation so they could preserve them as a keepsake.

U.S.S. Samoset/Oscar F. Smith/Alice M. Winslow tugboat air scoops in the Winslow family living room.

At one point, David had owned Robinson’s Wharf and Tugs Pub.  He had the steering wheel hanging up on a wall in the restaurant until he sold it in 2016.  The prop for the tug remains outside the restaurant.

The steering wheel and prop of the tugboat U.S.S. Samoset/Oscar F. Smith/Alice M. Winslow at Robinson’s Wharf Restaurant in Southport, ME.

Sadly, David passed away suddenly this past May.  I was truly blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with the last living link that connected me to John Faulkner’s past.

My only regret is that I did not learn about David’s connection with the Samoset sooner so that I could have had the chance to meet and shake hands with the man who walked on the same wooden deck that my great-grandfather strode in World War I.



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