Friday: Recognizing SS Cape Girardeau Captain

Join us Friday, July 18 at 4 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall as we recognize S.S. Cape Girardeau commander Captain Tom Stapleton.

SS-Cape-Girardeau“I served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991 and had command of the 605-foot cargo vessel SS Cape Girardeau. At that time, I notified then-Mayor Francis Rhodes that the city’s namesake was a distinguished vessel that steamed worldwide over her long service life in both peace and war,” said Stapleton in an email. “She was one of a class of the finest and fastest, five break-bulk cargo carriers in the world — in peace and in wartime. Now, she and just her sister, the Cape Gibson — remain in lay-up status.”

City leaders at the time named Stapleton the “Honorary Captain of the Girardot Navy.”

“I was honored,” he said. “After receiving the city’s gift, a brass commemorative plaque, I mounted it in the Captain’s office.”

Since then, Stapleton said he hoped to one day visit the city of Cape Girardeau. Now in retirement, Stapleton has a tour of the country’s midsection planned with Cape Girardeau as one of the stops.

“I plan to travel from my home in Texas to Cape Girardeau and also to St Paul, Minn. to attend a BMW motorcycle rally as part of my 28-day, 5,300 mile ride,” said Stapleton. He plans to make daily videos, chronicling his travels on his blog site using a GPS transponder. Friends, family, and fans can follow along at

Former mayors, the City Council, media and the general public are invited to a brief greeting ceremony at City Hall on Friday. We will play a segment of Stapleton’s video tour of the ship and its history.

1 Comment

  1. I was an engineer aboard the Alaskan Mail when we took her out of Newport News on her maiden voyage. Exciting times. Best ship I ever sailed in. Sad to see her laid up in Suisun Bay and close to being scrapped. I would love to get aboard her again.

Comments are closed.