merchant marine

noun
1.
the vessels of a nation that are engaged in commerce.
2.
the officers and crews of such vessels.

Origin:
1850–55, Americanism

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
merchant navy or merchant marine
 
n
the ships or crew engaged in a nation's commercial shipping
 
merchant marine or merchant marine
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
The contents of the suitcase suggest the merchant marine, which would explain where he bought the coat and thread.
They came over on wobbling merchant marine ships, refugees with a few valises apiece that contained all they owned in the world.
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