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Rear Admiral Halert C. Shepheard


Rear Admiral Halert C. Shepheard, USCG (Retired)


"To his legion of friends throughout the world maritime community Rear Admiral Shepheard was known with respect and affection as simply 'Shep.'

Hi long association with the sea and the merchant ships which daily ploy its endless reaches began in 1913 when as a youngster he found his first job with a steamship company.  During the sixty-two years that followed, 'Shep' had the unique distinction of having held at various times an unlimited masters license in the Merchant Marine, a commission as Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and the lofty rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard, the service he revered until the day he died.

Shep's direct and devoted association with merchant marine safety embraced a span of over fifty years.  It began in 1924 with the Steamboat Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce where his tenacious dedication to the safety of ships and the well-being of those who sail, soon resulted in his elevation to the post of Assistant Director of the Department's Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation.  With the transfer of that bureau to the U.S. Coast Guard, 'Shep' was commissioned a Captain and soon named Chief of Merchant Marine Safety at USCG Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

The war came along and Captain Shepheard was ordered to the European Theater where he again served with distinction -- now on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces and with the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces.  Here there came another promotion -- this time to the wartime rank of Commodore.

With the war ended, 'Shep' was soon back to his first love -- Merchant Marine Safety -- as Special Assistant to the Coast Guard Commandant and Chief, Merchant Marine Inspection Division.  Soon came still another stripe and it was nor Rear Admiral Shepheard, Chief of the Office of Merchant Marine Safety, a post he filled with devotion and accomplishment until his retirement in 1956.  From then until the day before he died 9 May 1975, he was the wise, beloved and valued consultant to the U.S. Merchant Marine on the staff of the American Institute of Merchant Shipping and its predecessor organization, the American Merchant Marine Institute.

In the fullness of his professional life Shep's was the voice of responsible and realistic merchant marine safety.  That voice was heard at the landmark International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea in London, 1948 -- it was heard again as Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to the International Conference on Pollution of the Sea by Oil in 1954, and as delegate to numerous sessions of the International Labor Office of the United Nations concerned with the safety of seafarers of all nations.  

At home he found time to be the mid-wife at the birth of the National Cargo Bureau -- time to be an active participant in the professional growth of the American Bureau of Shipping -- time to be an active member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers and other professional groups associated with the design, construction or operation of merchant vessels -- always with merchant marine safety in mind.

To sum it all up -- 'Shep' was a fine professional in the field of merchant marine safety and a very good and decent man.  It had all started when as a youngster he studied ship design at Franklin Technical Institute in Boston and when he wasn't playing championship school football or winning honors as a young heavy-weight boxer, he learned to know the smell of salt water and the joy of sailing at Winthrop Bay and Marblehead. His sails were set in those formative years and his course never deviated from seeking what was sound and right for the merchant marine.

Those early days and the scores of years which followed brought 'Shep' an array of military and professional honors -- the Bronze Star in World War I -- the Legion of Merit and other medals in World War II -- but one honor that he never even knew about yet one he surely would have prized more than any other, was the one accorded him on a beautiful sunlit May 13, 1975 when six Coast Guard officers of flag rank who knew and loved him through the years gently lifted their beloved 'Shep' to their shoulders and slowly bore him to his resting place in Arlington National Cemetery.  (7/76)"

[Transcribed copy of an obituary in his biography file held in the USCG Historian's Office Special Collections Archive & Library.]

Rear Admiral Halert C. Shepheard retired in 1956 and crossed the bar on 9 May 1975.  He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

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