Lane Kirkland, a former seafarer who retired as AFL-CIO president Aug. 1, was inducted last week into the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's Hall of Distinguished Graduates, the Maritime Administration said.

Mr. Kirkland graduated from the academy in 1942. After qualifying for a third mate's license, he joined the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. During World War II, he worked as a deck officer aboard military cargo ships.In his final speech as AFL-CIO president, Mr. Kirkland recalled his wartime

voyages, when crews were not allowed to know a ship's destination until the vessel was at sea in convoy formation.

"Only then did we know where we were going and what our chances were of getting back," he said.

While working as a ship cadet, Mr. Kirkland said he came "within an inch of joining the Communist Party" after being "courted persuasively" by the party cell on his ship.

But he rejected Communism when Nazi Germany invaded Russia and "the party line changed overnight, in midocean, 180 degrees. Yesterday's imperialist war for the benefit of capital became today's war for the survival of freedom, and there must be no more strikes and job actions."