Alf Dyrland, Captain of the MARY A. WHALEN, 1958-1978

Alf Dyrland Collection

Alf Dyrland was Captain of the MARY A. WHALEN from her rechristening in 1958 until 1978 when he retired. He was her first captain; she was his last boat.  

Alf loved the MARY deeply.  As he lay dying in 1996, what he said out loud revealed to family in the room that, in his mind, he was back on the boat giving instructions.  

Alf’s story is typical of many Norwegians of a certain era when men from coastal communities sailed away to work because economic opportunities were limited.  Alf left the tiny and very maritime town of Skudeneshavn at the age of 14, working as a cabin boy.  

Alf sailed the oceans for several years before being sponsored to come to America by his uncle Karl of Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Alf arrived from the Pacific and first set foot in the States in San Francisco. He then sailed through the Panama canal to NYC.  He moved to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and worked his way up and become a captain.  

Alf’s career had him participate in events of national historic significance, a major one being the union strike during WWII which the President of the United States ended by Executive Order on February 12, 1946 (see the telegram in this collection).  Another was when the MARY A. WHALEN went aground during Christmas 1968 – though he was not steering that day, the relief captain was -  and the grounding led to a lawsuit that went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in an important decision in 1975, US vs Reliable Transfer

Alf was known as a fair captain and a hardworking one who stepped up to the task. He took the MARY through one major storm where he steered for eight hours straight. 

Alf is also representative of an era in New York Harbor, a long era of several decades, when Norwegians were a major presence.  They were known as skilled, hard-working mariners and frugal, modest folk. Alf’s engineer Hans Hansen was also Norwegian. “All those old Norwegians” is how many mariners who started working in the 1980’s describe the crew on Bushey boats like the MARY.  

Alf’s descendants feel a strong connection to the ship.  An early memory of Alf’s daughter Karen Dyrland is her first visit to the wheelhouse and her father placing her hands on the wheel.  Karen’s husband, John Weaver, has been a board member of PortSide NewYork for many years.  Dyrland reunions have visited the tanker as a group, and many descendants follow the Mary A. Whalen on Facebook

The collection below was generously donated by Karen Dyrland. She has donated all of her father’s papers to PortSide NewYork as well as many objects associated with the ship and his maritime career. 

PortSide will be uploading more items to this collection as we scan them, taping more oral histories from the family, and will be adding additional information about the items over time. 

Index of Items

  • Telegram, February 12, 1946 to Alf Dyrland declaring the Government takeover of the marine transportation and towing companies in the New York Harbor area and directing strikers to return to work.
    https://redhookwaterstories.org/files/show/702

Images

Telegram, February 12, 1946 to Alf Dyrland declaring the Government takeover of the marine transportation and towing companies in the New York Harbor area and directing strikers to return to work.

Telegram, February 12, 1946 to Alf Dyrland declaring the Government takeover of the marine transportation and towing companies in the New York Harbor area and directing strikers to return to work.

At the end of WWII, many workers, including those in the marine industry, demanded better pay.  In the winter of 1946 Alf Dyrland, a member of a union of transportation and towing workers (i.e. folks on tugboats and oil tankers such as the MARY A. Whalen) were on strike.  Among other effects, this had cut off the supply of coal and fuel for heating in NYC.  President Harry S. Truman  declared an emergency and issued an Executive Order assuming Government control of the industry.On February 12, 1946, Alf Dyrland received a telegram from the US Government directing him to cease striking and return to work.  Until a settlement was made between the Union and the various companies, the Government  would pay people directly and assume all profits and losses from running the businesses. View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland ID photo

Alf Dyrland ID photo

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Captain Alf Dyrland in the Whalen's wheelhouse, 1962

Captain Alf Dyrland in the Whalen's wheelhouse, 1962

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf and Elsie Dyrland, WHALEN wheelhouse Nov 1962

Alf and Elsie Dyrland, WHALEN wheelhouse Nov 1962

Elsie Dyrland was on board on the occasion of the renaming of the tanker from the S. T. Kiddoo to the MARY A. WHALEN | Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland and others in the galley of the MARY A. WHALEN, celebrating her rechristening

Alf Dyrland and others in the galley of the MARY A. WHALEN, celebrating her rechristening

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf's Thumbnail Print

Alf's Thumbnail Print

View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history - tankers worked on, 1933 to 1937

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history - tankers worked on, 1933 to 1937

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history - tankers worked on, 1938 to 1961.

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history - tankers worked on, 1938 to 1961.

A list of oil tankers that Alf Dyrland worked on and when | Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: description of his license and MARY A WHALEN

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: description of his license and MARY A WHALEN

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: 1942 to 1953

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: 1942 to 1953

View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: THE MARY A WHALEN, 1962

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history: THE MARY A WHALEN, 1962

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's Certificate as Tankerman, 1938

Alf Dyrland's Certificate as Tankerman, 1938

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Envelope stamped Reliable Fuel Supply Co, Brooklyn, July 26, 1957.  (MARY A WHALEN moved fuel for Reliable).

Envelope stamped Reliable Fuel Supply Co, Brooklyn, July 26, 1957. (MARY A WHALEN moved fuel for Reliable).

The WHALEN moved fuel for the Reliable Fuel Supply Co. | Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrlan, Local 333 Union Card, 1978

Alf Dyrlan, Local 333 Union Card, 1978

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's Sporting Club card, 1949

Alf Dyrland's Sporting Club card, 1949

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's union membership card, Local 333, 1948.

Alf Dyrland's union membership card, Local 333, 1948.

View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's Recommendation for Citizenship from Reliable, 1940

Alf Dyrland's Recommendation for Citizenship from Reliable, 1940

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's Sailor's Pocket Almanac. 1937 <br /><br />
(in Norwegian)

Alf Dyrland's Sailor's Pocket Almanac. 1937
(in Norwegian)

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's school grades from Norway, cover

Alf Dyrland's school grades from Norway, cover

Alf Dyrland came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education. | Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's school grades from Norway, including speaking in  Norwegian, history, science, and English.

Alf Dyrland's school grades from Norway, including speaking in Norwegian, history, science, and English.

Alf Dyrland came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education. | Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration, Certificate of Training - RADAR.  April 19, 1972.

Alf Dyrland's US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration, Certificate of Training - RADAR. April 19, 1972.

Alf Dyrland's US Department of Commerce, Maritime Administration, Certificate of Training - RADAR. April 19, 1972. "Obey the rules of the road, RADAR is a navigational aid only." View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's Recommendation for Pilot's Licence, June 12, 1943

Alf Dyrland's Recommendation for Pilot's Licence, June 12, 1943

Voucher that Alf Dyrland has spent the requisite sea-time observing in the pilot house of MT Walter "C" and recommending him for a pilot's licence. View File Details Page

Paul Dyrland, father of Alf Dyrland, in his World War 1 uniform.

Paul Dyrland, father of Alf Dyrland, in his World War 1 uniform.

View File Details Page

Poling Brother's crew including Paul Dyrland, father of Alf.

Poling Brother's crew including Paul Dyrland, father of Alf.

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 “The dudes of Brooklyn”  Alf Dyrland's son Bill, and Bill's cousins Bobby and Paul Dyrland.

“The dudes of Brooklyn” Alf Dyrland's son Bill, and Bill's cousins Bobby and Paul Dyrland.

Source: PortSide NewYork, Karen Dyrland collection. View File Details Page

Item Relations

Item: Ira S. Bushey is related to This Item

Related Tour

Sources:

  • PortSide NewYork, Karen Dyrland Collection

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