M/V Air Pheasant, served southern Bahamas 1948-1982 for Morton Salt Co., former US Navy ship

Photo of the Air Pheasant from an article in the 1964 Bahama Handbook by Michael Mardon entitled “A Passage to Inagua,” page 38 – 46, c/o Dupuch Publications, copy thanks to Capt. Paul Aranha.

PAST NAMES: USS PC-1015 (30 Aug. 1942 to April, 1943), SC-1015 (April 1943 to 11 Oct. 1945), USCGC Air Pheasant (WAVR 449) (11 Oct. 1945 to 14 Jan. 1948)

DIMENSIONS: 110’10” long, 17′ wide, 6.5′ deep, speed 21 knots, engines: twin 1,540 bhp General Motors diesel engines (Electro-Motive Div., 16-184A) turning 2 propellers, displacement 94 tons (also given as 148 LDT tons) Official # 19536 as a commercial ship
YEAR BUILT: keel laid 4 May, 1942, launched 30 August 1942 – hull # 148
BUILDER: Luders Marine Construction Company, Stamford Connecticut (this is the site of a vacated Brewers Point Marina and is the largest commercial development in the northeast US)*
EARLY CAREER: Armed with 40mm gun, .50-calibre machine guns, 2 X “Y”-shaped depth charge projectors, 2 X depth charge tracks
BAHAMAS CAREER: Purchased by the Morton Salt Company from the US Coast Guard. Put into service between Nassau and the southern Bahamas carrying mail. Apparently this fast, twin-engine vessel was on the run for as many as 34 years, during which time she must have become something of a cultural institution in the islands. Replaced the Monarch of Nassau (ex-Sir Charles Orr) on southern Bahamas mail run.
CAPTAINS: Captain Anton Lockhart of Ragged Island, born 1906, at sea since 1922. Skipper 1964. Lieutenant Junior Grade Parks was one of her commanders at USS SC-1015
FATE: Scrapped in 1982
OWNERS: US Navy, US Coast Guard, Morton Salt Company
NOTES: Air Pheasant was the Morton Salt Company’s mail freighter between Nassau the capital and Great Inagua, servicing several other islands like Rum Cay Long Island and Crooked and Fortune Islands, it would appear from the late 1940s or early 1950s when presumably the USCG sold her to at least the early 1970s and independence, per the below rough Google search citations.
Her captain was Captain Anton Lockhart, of Ragged Island. He was 58 years old and had been going to sea since age 16. In other words he was born in 1906 and sailed since 1922.

He lost his sister, brother-in-law and wife in a collision between the Robert Luckenbach, an American Liner, off Castle Island Light on 7th June, 1931. They had been married only 6 months.

Photo source: 1964 Bahama Handbook by Michael Mardon entitled “A Passage to Inagua,” page 38 – 46, c/o Dupuch Publications

* Luders Marine Construction was founded in 1908, in Byram CT, but moved in 1912 to the end of Dyke Lane, in Stamford Harbor.  It became well known for its fine custom-built yachts, but closed in 1968.  The yard is now operated by Brewer Yacht Haven Marina: see it from the air on Google here

Sources: Tim Colton, http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/smallships/wavr.htm, and http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/smallships/pc2.htm
http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/151015.htm, Joe Ratigan,

There is a reference to the Air Pheasant in the Wesley Methodist Church history page, Matthew Town, Inagua:

“It was the month of December 1952 that Rev. Edwin Taylor working the Windward Mission, was making a visit to Binnacle Hill on the mail-boat “Air Pheasant”. The weather was so bad that the boat could not stop at Landrail Point.”

Source: http://www.bahamasmethodist.org/index.php?p=inagua

There are 5 images of this vessel at http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/151015.htm

Fortune Island (Long Cay, Crooked Island) reference::
Edna Taylor was born in the spring of 1951, fifth of eight children and fourth daughter of Mary Louise, nee DeCosta and Richard Alexander Taylor. Fortune Island, Bahamas is her birth place; a tiny but essential pivotal port, for Trans-Continental shipping between Europe and the Americas.

Her family boarded a slow mail boat called the Air Pheasant, in the summer of 1959 and sailed off to Nassau, the Capital of the Bahamas.

Source: http://ednataylorbooks.com/author.html

Somewhere in the 15 oct 1973 TRIBUNE but I could not find it 

Source: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00084249/03471/8j
In this 1976 study of Rum Cay entitled “Essays in Salvage Ethnography on Rum Cay” by Garry Thomas, there are 3 references to the Air Pheasant.

On page 50 it says “one-way passage to San Salvador [from Rum Cay] is five dollars, and $17.50 to Nassau, which includes a room and meals on the two-day trip. Almost everyone on Rum Cay has relatives in Nassau who still visit the island, and the boat carries these visitors, who could not afford to charter a private plain. But when visits are inconvenien, relatives send mail and parcels on the boat, and sometimes even livestock. …thee previous mailboat was the M/V Jeanette Walker, which used to be the “San Salvador Express”. Then came the “Maselles” which must have been the “Marcella”, with substitute service by the “Lady Moore.” In January 1976 the “Air Pheasant once again holds the contract”.

Tierney in 1976 (page 15) says “The Air Pheasant is all right now, too, till they get ready to complain” – page 54.

“Now we have the “Air Pheasant”. And where is she this whole week? In dry dock in Miami.”

Referenced in Silverstone, Paul H. The Navy of the Nuclear Age, 1947-2007. New York: Routledge, 2009, Source: http://www.shipindex.org/ships/air_pheasant

Other sources:


See another post with trivia on the Air Pheasant from an article in the Bahama Handbook by Michael Mardon entitled “A Passage to Inagua,” page 38 – 46, c/o Dupuch Publications

An unusual photo showing Air Pheasant in the background as a US Navy sub chaser (SC 1015) with the recently captured German U-boat U-858 which surrendered off Cape May, New Jersey. Note the early model Sikorsky helicopter hovering overhead.