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BIG STEAMERS FOR - RHINE EXCURSIONS

Five Boats to Take Soldiers on Free Sightseeing Trips on River

Excursion boats at Engers, Germany Excursion trips on the Rhine, the ambition of every soldier in the Army of Occupation, have become a thing of reality. For sightseeing purposes the big excursion ship Frauenlob, which during the war had been utilized for transporting German troops, and which, since the signing of the armistice, has been hauling repatriated British soldiers, with a free circulating capacity of 500 Yanks (she is listed as being capable of carrying 1,900), and the Borussia, another German excursion boat, with the same capacity, are now at the doughboys' service. Another boat, the Goethe, is on the way down, and it is hoped to put in service six vessels all told (and, get this)—including one called the Hindenburg.

The crews will be German, while Marines, in charge of an officer, will be in control. The whole excursion project is in charge of the Army Transportation Service, which will make regular bookings with all units in order that everyone may get an opportunity to take a trip on the famous river.

There will be two guides on each boat to point out the interesting points and to recite some of the legends surrounding them. The trips will last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a band aboard, or some other soldier talent, to make it a real day.

In order that all units may be properly provided for the present schedule calls for the stationing of an excursion boat at each of the following named cities: Coblenz, Remagen, Andernach, Neuwied.

The Stars And Stripes, January 24, 1919

MARINES AFLOAT ONCE MORE, MAN FLEET ON RHINE
Fourteen Vessels That Patrol Stream "Always on the Alert"
CONTRABAND WINE BARRED
Crushed Stone Must Be Crushed Stone if Germans Want to Avoid Difficulties

It was an innocent looking craft enough, plowing in its stolid German fashion down the Rhine near Coblenz. There was the huge load of crushed rock, plainly visible, that proclaimed its cargo, There was its usual crew of solemn-faced Germans, smoking their pipes. And there was the skipper on the bridge, on the alert for all American signals and orders, and precipitately willing to show his papers.

And yet the smart American regulation boat, trailing Old Glory astern, and with its crew of Marines aboard, wasn't quite satisfied, It may have been just a hunch. It may have been a tip from higher up—but the regulating officer ordered his men to make an investigation.

Under that load of innocent crushed rock going down the Rhine the Americans found enough wine to float the boat itself, for all its deep draft—contraband wine, too, for the ship's manifest showed only a cargo of stone.

This is an example of what the American Rhine patrol fleet is doing, the patrol fleet which consists of 14 boats, with a personnel of eight officers and 190 men, all members of the 5th and 6th Marines. And now that the excursion boats for men on leave are running up and down the stream the The Marines are on board them, too, controlling and directing their navigation.

Preussen Largest and Finest

Of the regular fleet the Preussen is the largest and finest vessel. She used to be the private vessel of the oberpresident of the Rhenish provinces, and she looks it, with her graceful lines and her elaborately laid out and beautifully paneled saloon, cabins and dining room. She is now used by Maj. Gen. Joseph T. Dickman, commander of the Third Army, and by Lt. Col. J. L. Dodd, provost marshal, when they go out on inspection trips. Be it said at this juncture in behalf of the Yanks who had to scrub her that she was in an incredibly filthy condition when taken over. Now she is kept up like a destroyer, and has been painted a battleship gray, though it took a deal of scurrying around to find the right mixture of oils, oils being a commodity of which the Germans are exceedingly out.

The Preussen carries a crew of six Germans and 29 American enlisted men and officers, and she packs six machine glans plus two 37m. guns in event of any excitement along the bank somewhere.

Next in size is the Mosel, the supply boat for the patrol stations along the river. She also packs a few machine guns, and, like the Preussen, can carry a sufficiently strong body of men to cope with any disturbances ashore. She can be utilized, too, to carry provisions to the troops stationed along the river, and was nearly pressed into this service recently when the rising waters almost cut Cochem off from railroad communications.

Controls River Traffic

Next comes the Mainz, called the regulating boat, carrying the official representatives of the Inland Interallied Waterways Commission, which controls the traffic on the river, and without whose say no boat, not even a rowboat, can be bought, begged or borrowed—and Odin help the bird that tries to steal one.

And lastly comes 11 snorting little patrol boats, two operated by steam and the rest by gasoline, whose duties are to stick their noses into everybody's business along the river and see that no one is trying to get away with anything at the expense of the Yanks; and a houseboat, so-called, which is really a floating guardhouse for such luckless individuals as run counter to the rules and regulations of the United States Marine Corps.

The limits of the American patrol are from Horchheim, a short distance up the river from Coblenz, where the French patrols are met, to a little place called Rolandseck, where the British are met, this meeting point including half the neutral zone between these two Armies of Occupation.

To facilitate the task of patrolling, the river has been divided into zones, each of which is under the supervision of a patrol boat, whose duties have been enumerated. There are two patrol boat stations, one at Bendorf and one at Andernach.

Before a single German boat of any description can pass through American wet territory she must have permission from the Waterways Commission, and it is the duty of the Mainz, as regulating boat, to bear alongside everything going downstream and to compare the captain's papers with the manifests.

Cargo Must Be O.K.

The cargo must be as stated, and if there is wine where crushed rock ought to be, or any other contraband, such as munitions of war, these are promptly confiscated, and the ship and crew placed under guard until proper disposition has been made of their cases. A regulating station downstream examines the papers of everything coming up, so that nothing is missed, especially with the nosy little patrol boats cruising about. Capt. Robert H. Shiel, U.S.M.C., is in charge of the Marines who control the vessels.

And that is all, except that all the Yank fighting men in the Third Army have to laugh when they think that since December 21, 1918, the A.E.F, took the Germans' favorite river from them and won't let them play with it except on their say-so, and that between the hour after sunset and the hour before sunrise no boat of any kind, shape or fancy can be out on the river aside from certain designated ferries.

The Stars And Stripes, January 31, 1919
 
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