H. Lee White: One Oswegonian's Story
H. Lee White The Man
The Early Years
H. Lee White was born in 1912 to Frances B. and Walter White of 46 E. Oneida St., and graduated from Oswego High School where he was a varsity basketball player before matriculating at Hamilton College. In 1936, he received his law degree from Cornell University, where he was on the Law Review. In 1954, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Syracuse University. After law school, White worked for a year as special assistant to the General Counsel of the US Casualty in New York City. In 1938, he went to Binghamton to join the law firm of Mangan and Mangan, becoming a partner two years later. In World War II, White entered the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant, and worked under the Secretary of the Navy in Washington, DC. When discharged in 1946, he held the rank of Commander.
The Early Years
In 1946, White joined the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft at 14 Wall Street, NYC. He became a partner there in 1949, and eventually became a senior partner. Once in the shipping business, it was said that "H. Lee White wears a law hat in the morning and a shipping hat in the afternoon."
Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force
Between January 1953 and July 1954 White served as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force in the Eisenhower administration. One of his colleagues remarked that "Lee, you'll be remembered around Washington as the man who made deals." Notably, he was able to cut cost while increasing recruitment, and made many influential friends in Washington including Secretary Roger Kyes, and Secretary of the Treasury Robert Anderson who became stock-holders of Marine Transport Lines along with Nationalist Chinese partners.
International Shipping Center
H. Lee White's shipping career began when he and his associates formed Trinity Tankers in 1956 and began constructing tanker vessels in Sweden and Japan. In 1958, White formed the Oswego Group of companies in order to facilitate the purchase of Marine Transport Lines - which continued to operate under the same name. At the time of purchase, Marine Transport Lines owned or chartered forty six bulk carriers, but by 1961 White grew that fleet to eighty two vessels operating as both American and foreign flagged ships which continued to grow throughout the 1960s. In 1966, the White owned Oswego Steamship Company merged with the American Steamship Company who operated bulk carriers on the Great Lakes thus augmenting one of the largest fleets of vessels in the world. ASC continued to operate under the same name, and White became Chairman of the Board and CEO. Vessels built by the Oswego Group of companies carried the Oswego name throughout the world. Oswego Freedom, Oswego Victory, Oswego Reliance, Oswego Defender, and Oswego Freedom added to a fleet that operated roughly 50% American and 50% Liberian flagged vessels in foreign and domestic trade. During his career, White's fleets carried a large diversity of goods including, but not limited to: molten sulfur, anhydrous ammonia, oil, various ores and grains, bulk goods, and, for a time, even orange juice. H. Lee White abruptly died in late September, 1969 at his home at the age of 57. He was survived by his wife Betty F. Johnson White, his mother Mrs. Frances White of Oswego, and two brothers - Dr. Robert White of Orange, NY and William B. White of Oswego. H. Lee White had no children.
M/V H. Lee White
M/V H. Lee White launched on December 3, 1973 and was built by the Bay Shipbuilding Corp of Sturgeon Bay, WI for the American Steamship Company based in Buffalo, NY. Her maiden voyage was on June 1, 1974. The vessel is powered by two 3500 HP General Motors Electro Motive Division 9EMD) diesel engines (originally powered by twin V-20 3600 HP GM diesel engines), has 1000 HP bow and stern thrusters and a self-unloading system capable of off-loading 6000 tons per hour. M/V H. Lee White was third of ten vessels constructed under the provisions of Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 which allowed for guaranteed government financing and deferred tax benefits for American shipping companies to construct new vessels, or modernize existing fleets. She is used in general trades on the Great Lakes; transporting materials such as iron ore pellets, coal, limestone and grain, and continues to operate today.
M/V H. Lee White Fast Facts
Length: 704 Feet Beam: 75 Feet Midsummer Draft: 30 feet, 7.5 Inches Capacity: 35,4000 Gross Tons Boom Conveyor Length: 250 Feet Maximum Unloading Rate: 6,000 tons per hour Cargo Holds: 6 Hatches: 23 Number of Propellers: 1