J. W. Westcott II

J. W. Westcott II is a boat known for its delivery of mail to ships while they are underway. It operates out of Detroit, Michigan, and is the only floating ZIP Code in the United States.[2]

The J.W. Westcott II on the Detroit River.
United States
Name: J. W. Westcott II
Namesake: company founder
Owner: J. W. Westcott Company
Route: Detroit River, Great Lakes
Ordered: 1949
Builder: Paasch Marine Service, Erie, Pennsylvania
Homeport: Detroit, Michigan
Identification: Official number: 258859
Status: in service
General characteristics
Class and type: Pilot and mail boat
Tonnage: 14 GT
Length: 45 ft (14 m)[1]
Beam: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Draft: 4 ft (1.2 m)
Speed: 15 knots


The Westcott company was established in 1874 by Captain John Ward Westcott, who ferried supplies (and by 1895 the mail) to passing ships via rowboat.[3] By 1949, the company commissioned Paasch Marine Service of Erie, Pennsylvania to build J.W. Westcott II, named in honor of the Westcott company's founder. The ship is 45 feet (14 m) in length and has a beam of 13 feet (4.0 m). A single screw is powered by a 305 horsepower (227 kW) marine diesel engine. The boat's speed is rated at 15 knots.


Any mail addressed to members of ships' crews on vessels transiting the Detroit River can be delivered to them via J. W. Westcott II by being addressed "Vessel Name, Marine Post Office, Detroit, Michigan, 48222." The US postal zip code 48222 is exclusive to the floating post office and its ship addressees; as of 2016, the boat has a contract with the US Postal Service through 2021.[2] The mail is delivered to the appropriate ships (mainly lake freighters) as they transit the Detroit River, utilizing ropes and buckets.[2]


On 23 October 2001, J. W. Westcott II sank in the deep water under the Ambassador Bridge while caught in the wake of Norwegian oil tanker MT Sidsel Knutsen. The captain and one other crew member were killed; the two passengers, both pilots, were rescued. J. W. Westcott II was later salvaged, refurbished and returned to service.[4][5]

See also


  1. "Dimensions". Westcott Co. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  2. Kelly, Tyler (20 August 2016). "A Mail Boat Stays Afloat". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  3. Hebert, Jim (31 March 1999). "J. W. Westcott Company". Westcott Co. Archived from the original on 16 November 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  4. "Two killed in sinking of mail boat J.W. Westcott II in Detroit River". Professional Mariner. February–March 2002. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  5. REPORT OF THE CAPSIZING AND SINKING OF THE M/V J. W. WESTCOTT II (PDF) (Report). United States Coast Guard. 7 October 2002. Retrieved 9 June 2019.

Further reading

Bergel, Colin (2000). Mail by the pail. Illustrated by Mark Koenig. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814328903. OCLC 44313231.

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