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, 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 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. Alfarrived from the Pacific and first set foot in the States in San Francisco. He then sailed through the 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, it was the relief captain -  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. 

Images

1946 Telegram  to Alf Dyrland. - Government takover

1946 Telegram to Alf Dyrland. - Government takover

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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

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Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

Alf Dyrland's notes on his work history

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

The WHALEN moved fuel for the Reliable Fuel Supply Co.

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 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 came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education.

Alf Dyrland came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education.

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork View File Details Page

Alf Dyrland came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education.

Alf Dyrland came to America from Norway with only a seventh grade education.

Source: Dyrland Collection, PortSide NewYork 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.

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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

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Sources:

  • PortSide NewYork, Karen Dyrland Collection

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