Capt. Charles R. Stevens, former United States Lines marine superintendent in Baltimore and retired Panama Canal pilot, died Feb. 24 of kidney failure at Leesburg (Fla.) Regional Hospital. The former East Baltimore resident was 77.
In 1943, when he was 22, Captain Stevens was the youngest American to hold a master's ticket -- or captain's license -- and, in 1949, when he was appointed port captain in Baltimore, he was again the nation's youngest.
His responsibilities included supervising loading and unloading the company's vessels that docked in Baltimore, and he worked from an office on the Pennsylvania Railroad's Pier 11 in Canton.
A 1941 graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Captain Stevens began his career that year with United States Lines as a junior third officer.
In 1964, he was named marine superintendent in New York for United States Lines, where he worked until 1969, when he became a tugboat captain in the Panama Canal Zone.
He worked as a Panama Canal pilot from 1974 until retiring in 1984, and moving to Wildwood, Fla., where he was living at the time of his death.
"He was an extremely able person," said former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, former maritime editor of The Sun.
"He was a man who liked getting things done, and he had two loves: the American Merchant Marine and the U.S. Lines," Mrs. Bentley said yesterday.
"At that time, U.S. Lines was a major player in the port of Baltimore and an important port for the company. He was very smart, and his work here gave him great standing in the company," she said.
"Because Charlie had been a sea captain, he was an invaluable man when he came ashore," said Guilford's George L. Maier, who retired as U.S. Lines port manager in Baltimore in 1981. "In addition to supervising the loading and discharging of cargo, another asset of his was his relationship with labor. He was well-respected by the longshoremen here."
Mr. Maier described him as an "affable and congenial man" who was "all business" when it came to work.
Captain Stevens was born and raised in Revere, Mass., where he graduated from high school in 1938.
His World War II exploits included surviving two torpedoings on the high seas and the sinking of his ship during the D-Day invasion.
"They shot three ships out from underneath him and he never got wet," said his wife of 38 years, the former Martha Revels.
In May 1942, his ship, the S.S. Quaker City, was sunk in the North Atlantic. The U-boat attack left 11 crewmen dead with the remaining crew in lifeboats for eight days before washing up in Barbados.
"The U-boat captain asked if they had any injured crewmen, and if they did, they would take them aboard," she said. "They had only several ounces of water a day, and the shirt rotted off his back before they found land after drifting for 450 miles. They never saw another ship," she said.
He was aboard the S.S. Staghound less than a year later when the ship was torpedoed. The crew of 84 spent a day in lifeboats before being picked up by an Argentine ship.
In 1944, he received his first command, the S.S. West Hanoker. While sailing his vessel across the English Channel on June 6, 1944, the ship was dive-bombed and strafed by enemy aircraft. Although Captain Stevens managed to take his ship to Utah Beach, it was later sunk by the Allies.
After the war, he was the master of several freighters before being assigned to Baltimore.
His first marriage ended in divorce.
Services will be held Friday in Wildwood.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, James Stevens of Summerfield, Fla., and Mark Stevens and Jeffrey Stevens, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Donna Levering of Baltimore; a stepdaughter, Linda Mitchell of Wildwood; and five grandchildren.
Pub Date: 3/03/99