Most of the American ships used in WWI to transport troops, supplies, etc, were either civilian shipping lines or those of the Merchant Marines. We did have a Coast Guard too, with seagoing vessels. The MM crews usually went with their boat/ship when it was recruited for military use, so those men of the MM who served would either have come under the USCG or the Navy; the Navy was very small in WWI. You can google on "WWI Merchant Marine records" and find the address to write too...some of the records are at the St. Louis repository....good luck.
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