Captain Hugh Nathaniel Mulzac, a Vincentian national who became the first black man to have gained a Shipping Master’s Certificate in the United States of America and; to later captain the “SS Booker T. Washington” during the Second World War has been memorialized. Sunday January 31, 2021 marked the fiftieth (50) anniversary of the death of Captain Hugh Mulzac.
In commemoration of his death, a brief ceremony was held at the SVG Coast Guard Base at Calliaqua. It was attended by family of the late Capt. Mulzac and Coast Guard Commander, Mr. Brenton Cain and staff of the SVG Coast Guard.
In delivering brief remarks at the ceremony, Mr. Andre Liverpool, a friend of the Mulzac family said that the event was inspired by Ms. Ned Myers who cared for Capt. Mulzac when he lived in Kingstown Park. According to Mr. Liverpool, he held discussions in 2020 with Ms. Myers and they began to formulate plans for the fiftieth anniversary.
Liverpool went on to say that Ms. Myers did a television interview to raise awareness about Capt. Mulzac’ work while he printed posters to promote the event. Liverpool said that in August 2020, he organized a meeting between Ms. Myers, Lieutenant Commander Deon Henry, Lieutenant Eos Hamlet of the SVG Coast Guard and him to advance the plans for the event and that he was pleased to be part of the ceremony.
Mr. Rupert Mulzac, a relative of Capt. Mulzac also addressed the ceremony. Mr. Mulzac who served in the United States Navy stated he first met Capt. Hugh Mulzac in the early 70s.
According to him, one of the things which made him very proud when he was at Sea during his years in the Navy – was knowing that the first black man to have received a Master’s Licence in the United States was his relative and he knew him personally.
He said that the gesture to remember Capt. Mulzac at the beginning of Black History month is very significant.
The Coast Guard Commander, Mr. Brenton Cain also delivered brief remarks. He disclosed that the SVG Coast Guard has limited literature on hand about Capt. Mulzac, but he and his staff were elated to be the recipients a book and posters about the life and work of Capt. Mulzac to gain more insights into his career.
Commander Cain highlighted the achievement of Capt. Mulzac for being the first black ship captain in the United States and said that it was an accomplishment that has made Vincentians very proud.
He reminded the audience that the current Coast Guard Vessel “Capt. Hugh Mulzac” is the second such vessel to bear Captain Mulzac’s name. This according to him is the high esteem in which St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the SVG Coast Guard holds the Late Capt. Mulzac.
Commander Cain informed that when preparations were being made to receive the new vessel, several names were considered – but the Coast Guard recommended to the Ministry of National Security that the vessel be called “Capt. Hugh Mulzac” and the ministry accepted the recommendation.
At the end of the ceremony there was an exchange of gifts. Mr. Andre Liverpool handed over a quantity of commemorative posters of Capt. Mulzac to Lieutenant Commander Deon Henry and Lieutenants Enos Hamlette and Vinton John; while Mr. Rupert Mulzac handed over a book entitled “A Star to Steer by”, an autobiography of Capt. Hugh Mulzac. In return, Commander Cain handed over a replica of Coast Guard Vessel “Capt. Hugh Mulzac” to Mr. Rupert Mulzac on behalf of the SVG Coast Guard.