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The authoritative magazine of the history of engine-powered vessels and the legacy of man's journey on the world's seas and waterways.
In this issue:
- 'Mini Liners' of the 1930s
- Alcoa's Combination Liners
- The Ferry Binghamton: 1905-2017
- Preana: One of Australia's Oldest Steam Vessels
- Ship Research, Part 3: Flags at Sea & Funnel Marks
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Funding for the SSHSA educational outreach program is made possible in part by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities), the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program, and the Heritage Harbor Foundation.
PowerShips Spring 2018 | No. 305
America’s ‘Mini Liners’ of the 1930s
Even though the harsh Depression raged in the 1930, short trips along the East Coast on little luxury liners, “Mini Liners,” provided an ideal escape. In Lives of the Liners, William Miller takes us aboard the Clyde Mallory Lines Shawnee and Iroquois, which boasted luxurious salons, wonderful food and comfortable cabins.
Alcoa’s Combination Liners
Immediately after World War II, the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) put in service three distinctive cargo-passenger ships, originally unfinished Victory ships. Terry Tilton presents a detailed maritime history of Alcoa and these ships: Alcoa Cavalier, Alcoa Corsair and Alcoa Clipper.
Preana: Australia’s Oldest Operating Steam Vessel
In this restoration story, Jeff Rowe describes the 17 years of effort and dedication, led by Jim Butterworth, that went into bringing the magnificent 1896 steam yacht Preana, Australia’s oldest operating steam vessel, back to life. The Preana is docked in Hobart and operates as an exclusive charter and is currently for sale.
Ship Research, Part 3: Flags at Sea & Funnel Marks
In the third installment of his advice on ship research, James Shuttleworth shows you how information on signal flag codes, other ship flags and funnel marks can support your work. Maritime historians, model makers, collectors, maritime enthusiasts and museum curators will benefit greatly from a knowledge of sea flags.
The Ferry Binghamton: 1905-2017
William Fox offers a loving tribute to the ferry Binghamton (1905-2017). She served the Hoboken-Barclay Street commuter run across the Hudson River from 1905 to 1967 and was said to have steamed 200,000 miles and carried 125 million people during her career. She became a restaurant in the 1970s and was demolished in place in 2017.
PowerShips Winter 2018 | No. 304
Hoboken’s Fifth Street Pier
On Fridays at 12 noon, Hoboken would “rattle” with the thunderous steam whistles of one of Holland America’s “Big Three” – Rotterdam, Statendam or Nieuw Amsterdam. In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller makes us feel like we’re there on the pier with him.
U-Boat Attacks on Allied Merchant Ships Off New England
Between January 12, 1942, and May 5, 1945, there were 72 German submarine patrols off the coast of New England. Eric Wiberg presents a history of this near-continuous assault by U-boats where, on average, every other submarine managed to sink an Allied ship.
Sailing (or Avoiding) The Exile’s Line to India
Laurence Miller helps bring the British colonial period to life in an article that features numerous images of British, French, Italian, and Dutch colonial liners.
Ship Research, Part 2
In the second installment of his advice on ship research, James Shuttleworth shows you how to use shipping registers and vessel documents to support your article.
PowerShips Fall 2017 | No. 303
Sagafjord to Alaska
Carl J. Liba Sr. makes us feel like we’ve joined him for his 1987 Cunard Cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage on the MS Sagafjord. Over the course of July and August that year, Liba discovered that Cunard’s advertising slogan, “Getting There Is Half the Fun,” was actually an understatement.
The Peoples’ Captain: Kate McCue’s Journey to the Bridge
In September 2015, Celebrity Cruises made history when Kate McCue stepped onto the bridge as captain of the Summit and joined a growing number of steamship companies who have recently promoted women to the rank of master. Lorraine Coons introduces us to Captain Kate.
There’s Something About Mary
To celebrate the 50th year of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Tom Varney presents a detailed account of the 20 years he took to build his model of the Queen. Scaled at 3/32 inches to 1 foot, the model measures about eight feet long and one foot wide.
Might, Style & Splendor: Empress of Britain
In “Lives of the Liners,” William Miller chronicles the Empress of Britain, launched less than a year after the 1929 stock market crash. The beautiful, white-hulled Empress, built by the renowned John Brown shipyard on the Clyde, was Britain’s biggest liner in almost 20 years.
PowerShips Summer 2017 | No. 302
An American Classic: Steamer Wilfred Sykes
Led by a stunning cover photo from Christopher Winters, Mark Shumaker offers a heartfelt history of the unassuming 67-year-old Wilfred Sykes, once the largest and fastest on the Great Lakes, which has survived economic ups and downs, mergers and acquisitions and the modernization of the fleet to earn its place as a classic.
Sailing to the East French Style: Cambodge, Laos & Viet-Nam
In “Lives of the Liners,” William Miller offers a brief history of the three combination passenger-cargo ships known as the Three Musketeers that Messageries Maritimes built in the early 1950s to replace aging, pre-war passenger ships.
British India to the Persian Gulf
Terry Tilton presents a comprehensive account of the British India Steam Navigation Company. Founded in 1856, British India became the largest company in the British merchant fleet and was the glue that held the far-flung British Empire together.
Jim Shaw presents a concise history of some of the final American breakbulk cargo ships of the post-war years and their operators, which included Lykes, American Export, Isbrandtsen, Farrell, Moore-McCormack, among others.
PowerShips Spring 2017 | No. 301
Innovator: The Stunning Ile de France
In Lives of the Liners, William Miller offers a brief history of the French Line’s transatlantic “dreamboat,” the 43,100-grt Ile de France. Commissioned in the spring of 1927, she was one of the most important liners of the 20th century.
Queen Mary 2: Remastering of a Monarch
John Fostik gives us the details on the recent ambitious upgrade to the Queen Mary 2, which remains the only true ocean liner in operation and still the longest, widest, tallest and grandest ever built.
The M/V Tustumena: Navigating Treacherous Waters
Scott McDonald tells the story of his trip aboard the M/V Tustumena, a venerable ferry that sails through Area 3A, one of the most violent stretches of ocean in the western Gulf of Alaska.
Sunoco Shipyards, Part Two
William Preston concludes his account of Sunoco’s shipbuilding and shipping history, focusing on ships built after World War II, including the cargo vessel Adm. Wm. M. Callaghan, the icebreaking tanker Manhattan, and the CIA-backed Hughes Glomar Explorer.
Rotterdam’s Arctic Journey
While traveling from Rotterdam to Boston, Lorraine Coons and Alexander Varias trace the route of the Vikings on Holland America Line’s MS Rotterdam, and rediscover her noble predecessor, De Rotterdam.
PowerShips Winter 2017 | No. 300
Captain Cobb’s Steamer
James Brown presents the story of Captain Nathan Cobb and his failed effort to start an American trans-Atlantic steam packet line in 1836. Cobb’s steamboat, the Despatch, featuring a unique steam propulsion system designed by Phineas Bennet, was doomed from the start.
Icebound! The Story of the RMS Britannia at Boston
David Longshore presents a compelling account of February 1844 when, in the midst of one of the coldest winters in New England memory, hundreds of people from all walks of life came to the icebound Boston harbor to dig a 7-mile channel so the RMS Britannia could head out to sea.
Remembering the La Guardia
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller presents the extraordinary and varied career of the La Guardia, which began its days in the fall of 1944 as the U.S. troopship General W. P. Richardson and later designed to be adapted as a commercial liner in peacetime.
From Peonies to Pirates
Steven Duff presents the amazing story of Jane Shelley, a Chief Officer with the Maersk Line. Her ship is the Maersk Alabama, made famous by its hijacking in 2009 by Somali pirates and resulting movie, Captain Phillips. Shelley’s story is a true saga.
The 100-Year Story of the Motor Yacht Mar-Sue
In 1975, Butch Baxter bought an old, 65-foot, double-ender motor yacht named Mar-Sue II. He set a goal to keep the Mar-Sue going through her 100th birthday, a goal he achieved in April 2015. This is his story.
PowerShips Fall 2016 | No. 299
Ode to the Pacific Princess
The Pacific Princess is gone now, reduced to rubble and scattered debris. But in Lives of the Liners, William Miller writes about the ship’s very special place in cruising history as the star of the television show "The Love Boat."
Knots, Liberties and Lollipop Ships
David Hendrickson offers a comprehensive history of the post-World War II cargo ships of the Alaska Steamship Company. December 2016 marks the 122nd anniversary of the founding of the company, which provided the principal sea link between Alaska and the lower 48 states.
The Ironclads: Trials and Tribulations
The introduction of ironclad ships in the U.S. Civil War spawned a new kind of warfare known as mechanical warfare. Steve Lund introduces us to those first technological marvels: the USS Merrimac (CSS Virginia), Monitor, New Ironsides, Galena and Keokuk.
Sunoco Shipbuilding, Part 1
William Preston gives a detailed account of the company’s shipbuilding and shipping history. Its primary product was tankers (281 tankers and 14 Liberty ships were built during WWII), but the company built many types of ships over its 70 years.
A History of Bahamian Mailboats
Capt. Eric T. Wiberg, Esq., provides an overview of mailboats, government-subsidized vessels that carry everything from people and pincushions to tractors and pickaxes between the islands of the Bahamas.
PowerShips Summer 2016 | No. 298
Passenger Liners through the Golden Gate
Jim Shaw offers an engrossing account of the time when San Francisco was the premier port for passenger liners on the West Coast, when vessels such as Lurline, Canberra, Santa Maria and President Wilson sailed to and from Hawaii, Australia, South America and the Orient.
The Grand Saloon and Victorian Propriety
Doug Hart enlightens us with a delightful history of the major public rooms on 19th century British North Atlantic liners – Dining Saloon, Smoking Room, and Drawing Room – that separated the genteel from the vulgar.
The Stella Solaris
In Lives of the Liners, William Miller takes us back to the great and grand age of Atlantic liners, where passengers took magically memorable summertime trips to and from Europe. Miller highlights one of those ships – the Greek-owned, blue-hulled Stella Solaris.
Remembering Grace Line’s “M” Ships
Captain Manny Aschemeyer introduces us to the Santa Maria, Santa Mariana, Santa Magdalena and Santa Mercedes. Built for the Grace Line in the early 1960s, the ships were both beautiful and practical. Nothing like them had ever operated on the maritime scene before.
Cuba, “So Near And Yet So Foreign”
Francis Xavier Luca uses promotional materials to provide a picturesque glimpse into an era of easy access to Cuba from the United States by ship, when travel to the island was simple for American tourists.
The Sinking of the Andrea Doria on July 26, 1956
In this issue’s Steamboat Bill Classic, originally published in Summer 2006, USNS Private William H. Thomas crew member Ernest R. Melby remembers what it was like to be one of the first ships to arrive on the scene and assist in the rescue. Edited by Don Leavitt.
Freighter Trips in the Caribbean – 1930s
Harry W. Shipps reminisces about the thrilling trips he took to the Caribbean with his parents in the 1930s on a variety of freighters, including SS Atlántida, SS Caracas, SS Tivives, SS Colombia, SS Haiti, SS Hastings, SS Quirigua.
PowerShips Spring 2016 | No. 297
February 5, 2015: A Great Day for the Queen of Time
Queen Mary’s Commodore Everette Hoard paints us a picture of last year’s wonderful celebration of the opening of a new model gallery on the ship’s forward starboard promenade deck, the first tangible step toward what is expected to grow into a 65,000-square-foot museum and science center.
“Tribute to a Queen”
In an article originally published in Steamboat Bill in 1968, Frank Cronican, Jr., offers a heartwarming tribute to the Queen Mary, one that features details of the ship’s construction, an account of her maiden voyage, and a brief history of her travels during and after World War II. Edited by Don Leavitt.
The Insider’s Guide to the Queen Mary
Don Leavitt describes his recent awe-inspiring visit to the Queen Mary, where he wandered throughout the ship with his mouth agape, expecting to awaken from a dream.
The Space Ship Hamburg
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller introduces us to the 24,000-ton Hamburg, which in 1969 was the first newly built German liner since 1939. She was owned by the German-Atlantic Line and designed to carry 600 passengers in great luxury and even greater space.
The Russian Steam Frigate Kamschatka
James Brown relates a tale of chicanery and deceit regarding the construction of the Russian Navy steam frigate Kamschatka. Built in New York in 1841 by William H. Brown, the Kamschatka proved to be a test of early American shipbuilding methods and industrial capacity.
The SS Manco
SSHSA Board Member Terry Tilton offers a fascinating history of the SS Manco. Built by storied Scott’s Shipbuilding, Manco was a combination passenger-cargo ship designed for Amazon River service, served different owners from 1908 to 1944 and participated in two world wars (on opposite sides).
Museum Profile: Hudson River Maritime Museum
PowerShips highlights the Hudson River Maritime Museum, located in Kingston, New York. The museum is currently featuring exhibits on Hudson River tugboats and lighthouses, and the museum courtyard contains the historic steam tugboat Mathilda.
PowerShips Winter 2016 | No. 296
What to Collect Next in 2016
"From the Collection" columnist Don Leavitt tells us what to collect in 2016 – the printed record of modern maritime life – including books, magazines, newspapers and especially deck plans and travel brochures.
The Oriana of 1960
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller offers a concise history of the immensely popular and very successful Oriana of Britain’s P&O-Orient Lines, which, when completed in December 1960, was the largest passenger liner yet built for their busy United Kingdom-Australia run.
Vessels of the Virginia Ferry Corporation (Part II)
William (Butch) Baxter presents a comprehensive history of the vessels of the Virginia Ferry Corporation. Baxter covers the Chesapeake Bay Ferry District purchase of the Virginia Ferry Corporation in 1956 through the end of ferry operations in 1964, and continues with the subsequent sale of the vessels and their histories with new owners. (Part I was in our Fall 2011 issue).
Some Mediterranean Exotics and Ships as War Refugees
Larry Miller shows us some Wolfsonian Museum brochures that feature a number of exotic and long-forgotten liners of the past, including Dollar Liners President Wilson and President Lincoln, Home Lines’ Brasil and Gydnia America Line’s Sobieski.
Britannic – The Queen that Never Reigned
In this Steamboat Bill Classic edited by Don Leavitt, author Jack Shaum offers a brief history and details of the final, tragic day of the Britannic, sister to the Olympic and Titanic, which became a hospital ship and the largest ship lost during World War I.
The Ferry Capt. John Smith Deckhouse Restored
William Fox offers a brief account of the restoration of the deckhouse of the Capt. John Smith of 1925, which was the Virginia Department of Transportation’s first ferry across the James River. The deckhouse now resides in Surry and has been restored for use as a museum.
PowerShips Fall 2015 | No. 295
The Late, Great Norway
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller sits with former staff captain Cato Christensen, and together they recall the story of one of the greatest ocean liners of all time, the Norway. She was the world’s first mega-cruise liner, the longest passenger ship afloat for many years, and was, of course, the illustrious France in her previous life.
Steel Ships at Pascagoula
Seventy-five years ago a large steel cargo ship was completed at a new shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The shipyard, a venture started by Ingalls Iron Works of Birmingham, Alabama, would eventually becoming one of the largest shipyards in the world, Ingalls Shipbuilding. Terry Tilton offers an engaging story of the early years of Ingalls and the ships that made the company a huge success.
Remembering the Eastland
CAPT Eric Christensen, USCG (Ret), reminds us of the lasting legacy of the Eastland – July 24, 2015, marked 100 years since the capsizing of this passenger steamer. With the loss of 844 souls – 841 passengers and 3 crew – the Eastland disaster ranks as one of the greatest losses of life in U.S. maritime history.
Pilotage Aboard the Pacific Scout
Stephen Duff describes the role of pilot boats, whose existence and service are vital but which dwell in a remote corner of the public mind. His visit to Pacific Scout gives us an unusual window (or porthole) into this little-known area of marine activity.
In this Steamboat Bill Classic edited by Don Leavitt, author Earl C. Haring writes of his nights spent with his father on a creaking side-wheeler. He fondly reminisces about his introduction to the Hudson River on the Citizens’ Line steamer City of Troy, around 1904 or 1905. First published in Steamboat Bill in September 1951.
2015 SSHSA Award Winners
We officially announce our 2015 Award Winners, including the SS Berkeley (Ship of the Year), the USS Hoga (Tug Boat of the Year), National Museum of the Great Lakes (The C. Bradford Mitchell Award), William M. Worden (The H. Graham Wood Award), and Peter Knego (The Samuel Ward Stanton Award).
Museum Profile: National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
PowerShips highlights this Dubuqe, Iowa, five-acre maritime history campus, which features the William Woodward Discovery Center, the National Rivers Hall of Fame, the Fred W. Woodward Riverboat Museum, the steamboat William M. Black, the Pfohl Boatyard, a wetland, and a refurbished train depot.
PowerShips Summer 2015 | No. 294
Steamboat Bill and PowerShips: A Look Back Over 75 Years
PowerShips is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the magazine throughout the year. Long-time member Barry Eager takes us back over 75 years of Steamboat Bill and PowerShips, highlighting many firsts: first issue, book review, regionals column, color cover, and more. You’ll enjoy seeing how the magazine has changed over time.
Going to Sea with Cunard
Cunard is celebrating its 175th anniversary and we join in that celebration with this edition of William Miller’s “Lives of the Liners” series. Miller tells us the story of steward Robert Welding and his long-time service for Cunard in the 1950s aboard the liners Media, Parthia, Britannic, Sylvania, Saxonia, Carinthia, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and finally, Caronia.
Through the Lens of Byron Huart: Cruise Ships at New York
Savvy maritime journalist and professional photographer Byron Huart sees a critical need to document and preserve the maritime heritage of New York. PowerShips columnist John Fostik documents the current cruise ship history of the Port of New York and New Jersey through Huart’s incredible photography.
A Final Visit to Leonardo da Vinci
David L. Powers, Jr., takes one final look at the luxury liner Leonardo da Vinci while the ship was being scrapped. First published in Steamboat Bill in 1983, this classic article is edited by Don Leavitt.
Museum Profile: The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax
PowerShips highlights this Halifax icon. The museum, which houses some 60,000 artifacts and photographs, interprets sail and steam navigation on the Northwestern Atlantic, the region’s role as a strategically important theater of naval operations and Nova Scotia’s indigenous small-craft traditions. In addition, the museum has become a vital cultural center on the waterfront.
PowerShips Spring 2015 | No. 293
Patris - The First Big Liner for Chandris
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller tells us the story of the Patris, which carried immigrants from Europe out to Australia and then, on homeward trips, carried budget Australian tourists ( "the back packer set" as one staff member called it) as well as some migrants.
The Miracle That Was Prinsendam
Peter T. Eisele offers a history of Holland America's Prinsendam, launched in 1973. In particular, Eisele highlights the fire that ended the Prinsendam's short, seven-year run. This article, edited by Don Leavitt, was first published in Steamboat Bill in Spring 1981 and is reprinted in celebration of PowerShips' 75th anniversary.
The Russian Yacht Livadia
Jim Leggett presents a fascinating account of Russia's revolutionary round ship Livadia, an imperial yacht of the House of Romanov built in 1879-1880 Glasgow, Scotland. Leggett also introduces us to the historically significant and beautiful ship model of Livadia, built in 1880.
Eugene O'Neill's Fireman Yank in The Hairy Ape
Taylor Nutting introduces us to O'Neill's prolonged glimpse into the underbelly of a steamship during the rapid transition from sail to steam to interal combustion engines. O'Neill's descriptions of Yank in the play The Hairy Ape provide a crucial look into a brief moment in time, giving credit to a little-known and less-appreciated role on the ship: the fireman.
Slow Boat to Europe
George and Irene Gruner present a sea saga experienced by a young married couple who put aside daily pleasures to save for a once-in-a-lifetime European sojourn they would remember forever - a trip that took place 62 years ago at the end of the era of tramp steamers and breakbulk cargoes, aboard the SS Duivendyk of the Holland-America line.
Museum Profile: Wisconsin Maritime Museum
PowerShips highlights the Wisconsin Maritime Museum of Manitowoc, where you can explore the nation's most completely restored World War II submarine, stroll the streets of a 19th century shipbuilding town, and sail a boat down a river.
Introducing SSHSA's New Headquarters: The Ship History Center
SSHSA Executive Director Matthew Schulte welcomes readers to our new headquarters. The Ship History Center features both public and private spaces, including work areas for conducting research, exhibit space and galleries, staff offices, a library, archive and photo areas, a ship store, and The Ship History Hall of Fame.
Steamboat Bill and PowerShips: A Look Back Over 75 Years
Barry Eager provides a history of SSHSA's magazine. Highlights include many firsts: the first Steamboat Bill, the first book review, the first regional columns, the first issue printed via offset, the first quarterly publication, the first formally designed front cover, the first special feature issue, the first color cover, and the first PowerShips.
PowerShips Winter 2015 | No. 292
Aboard the SS Rotterdam
Norm Laskay takes us aboard the SS Rotterdam, where today you can have a good meal, a good drink and a good sleep, in a good museum. You’d never know that its steaming days were over as it looks like it’s ready to cast off and make its way to New York City or on a cruise to the Mediterranean.
Hoboken’s Pier B
In "Lives of the Liners," William Miller reminisces about life on Pier B from 1900-1980, where German liner companies were once an important part of Hoboken.
Modelling the SS Catalina
Norman Kelley describes his challenges in building a model of the SS Catalina, a much-treasured ship that plied the west coast waters between San Pedro and Santa Catalina Island between 1924 and 1975.
U-Boats in the Bahamas
Shortly after the United States’ entry into World War II, there were 170 enemy patrols by German and Italian submarines in the waters around the Bahamas and Bermuda. Those patrols sank 181 ships, 70 of them U.S.-flagged steam ships. Eric Troels Wiberg tells their story and that of the survivors.
No Fire Bell in the Night
Arthur Johnson shows us how the sinking of the 5,000-ton cruise steamship Yarmouth Castle in 1965 led to new legislation and an international agreement that made the cruise trade safer for passengers and crews. This article, edited by Don Leavitt, was first published in Steamboat Bill in Fall 1974 and is reprinted in celebration of PowerShips’ 75th anniversary.
A Unique Maine Museum Ship
Captain William J. Frappier introduces us to the Rekord of 1914, a sail-assisted, diesel-powered, freight and passenger craft that first arrived in Maine waters in the mid-1970s and is now based in Rockland Harbor at the Sail, Power & Steam Museum. The historic vessel is recognized internationally by The World Ship Trust and flies the official TWST flag at her masthead.
2014 SSHSA Award Winners
SSHSA officially announces their 2014 Award Winners, including the Edward M. Cotter (Ship of the Year), the Wallace Foss (Tug Boat of the Year), the Aphrodite (Yacht of the Year), and individual service award winners CDR John Hamma, Dennis Hale, Geoffrey Hamer, and John Henry.
Museum Profile: Columbia River Maritime Museum
PowerShips highlights the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. The museum’s six galleries, Great Hall, and the lightship Columbia interpret the Pacific Northwest’s rich maritime history.
PowerShips Fall 2014 | No. 291
The Shepard Steamship Company and its Ships
Not many people remember the Shepard Steamship Company, but the line had a rich, diverse, and at times turbulent history. David Hendrickson offers a detailed account of the Shepard Line, a feisty presence in a conservative business, viewed by detractors as a maverick operation and a “disrupting influence in the industry.”
Five Brilliant Hours on the Princess Marguerite
Steven Duff pays homage to the Princess Marguerite, which would be the last of her breed – a Clyde-built, turbine-driven, traditional coastal passenger ship, or “packet,” as we said back in the day. He offers an affectionate history of the Princess Marguerite and an engaging tale of his voyage aboard the ship.
The Three Royal Viking Line Sisters
In Lives of the Liners, William Miller takes us back to the grand age of Atlantic liners and their memorable summertime trips to and from Europe. In particular, he provides an historical sketch of three sister ships of the Royal Viking Line, one of the finest lines of the time – Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sea and Royal Viking Sky.
The Concrete Wreck
Jim Leggett offers a brief history of the SS Sapona, a ferro-concrete steamer that ran aground near Bimini in 1926 and is now a navigational landmark for boaters and a popular dive site. The Sapona, designed by Henry Ford and built in 1919 by Liberty Ship Building Co. in Brunswick, Georgia, was constructed of concrete to conserve on precious steel during World War I.
The SS George W. Elder
Author George William Elder offers a chronology of the SS George W. Elder (1874-1935), an iron-hulled, passenger/cargo steamship built in 1874. The ship primarily serviced the coastal ports of the United States during its lifetime, but was famous for another reason – In 1899 railroad executive Edward H. Harriman chartered and refitted the George W. Elder for his famous scientific Alaska Expedition.
U-Boats in the Bahamas and Bermuda in WWII
From December 1941 through 1944, German and Italian U-boats sank 181 ships off the U.S. coast. Seventy of the ships were U.S.-flagged steam ships or motor tankers, and most of them had sailed from or were headed to the port of New York. Capt. Eric Troels Wiberg tells presents a chilling account of those ships and their survivors.
PowerShips Summer 2014 | No. 290
Farewell Saga Ruby
On May 22, 1973, Norwegian America Line’s new Vistafjord sailed on her maiden voyage, a transatlantic crossing from Oslo to New York, beginning a successful career that would last over forty years. Designed for world-wide cruising, Vistafjord would be the last ship built for Norwegian America Line as well as the last passenger ship built in England. Timothy J. Dacey offers a lively history of the cruise ship, also known as Cunard’s Coronia, Saga’s Saga Ruby, and finally, the floating hotel Oasia.
The President Monroe of 1940
In his continuing series on the Lives of the Liners, William Miller treats us to the recollections of Harold “Bud” Kaplan, first officer aboard the combo liner President Monroe, a 9,500-ton ship that carried lots of cargo and 98 all-first class passengers. The ship, one of six combo sisters ordered by American President Lines, was routed (with her sister, the President Polk) in continuous around-the-world sailings.
Crossing the Line from Cruise Ships to Ocean Liners
In the wake of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster of last year, there has been much misinformation from an uninformed media over exactly what kind of vessel became the largest passenger shipwreck in history. Often referring to the Italian-registered ship as a “liner,” the media were unintentionally mistaking this vessel for a type of passenger ship that has almost vanished from the world’s oceans. Roddy Sergiades clearly explains what makes a ship a liner rather than a cruise ship and why it’s important to understand the difference.
Onboard the Frances Barkley
Steven Duff recounts a recent West Coast adventure, a sailing on the little coastal vessel Frances Barkley, which serves a number of outlying communities on Vancouver Island’s west coast, several of which depend exclusively on the ship for mail, supplies, and passenger service. Cargo is handled with a derrick forward – no skids or fork-lifts here. And the boat is a real charmer, vintage 1958 and with her original engine.
Token Was Survivor’s Link to General Slocum Tragedy
A one-cent token came to The Mariners’ Museum’s collection in fall 2013 as a donation with a very personal connection to a tragic episode of maritime history – the fire aboard the steamboat General Slocum that left more than 1,000 dead. Rachel Conley offers a compelling account of the tragedy and tells the story of William Zipse, who had the token in his pocket on June 15, 1904, when he, his mother and five siblings took an excursion aboard the General Slocum that fateful day.
PowerShips Spring 2014 | No. 289
Towboats in the Mist: The Knappton-Brix Story
Towboats are usually associated with the Mississippi River and its many tributaries, but the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest is also home to a number of these hard-working vessels. Jim Shaw offers a history of the Knappton Towboat Company, later to become Brix Maritime, before being sold to Seattle's Foss Maritime in 1993. In its seven decades under control of the Brix family, Knappton Towboat evolved from a one-boat operation into one of the major transportation providers in the Eastern Pacific.
The African Endeavour and African Enterprise
Farrell was one of the best known of the large U.S.-flagged shipping companies back in the post-Second World War era. In the late 1940s, Farrell not only had a good-sized fleet of freighters, but two rather luxurious passenger-cargo liners, as well. William Miller presents a brief history of Farrell and these two "flagship" liners, the 8,000-grt vessels African Endeavour and African Enterprise.
Engine Order Telegraphs
From around 1860 until about 1975, engine order telegraphs, so prized today by collectors, maritime museums, and seafood restaurants, were an essential piece of bridge equipment on virtually every engine-powered ship afloat. Captain Roland R. Parent provides us with a history of engine order telegraphs, pointing out the various designs used on different types of ships as well as describing how they functioned.
The Sinking of the SS Vestris
When the Lamport and Holt liner SS Vestris went down in November of 1928, the sinking generated such a massive amount of media attention that the journalist Frederick Lewis Allen wrote it "was so hysterically reported that one might have imagined it to be the greatest marine disaster in history." Clint Olivier presents a detailed account of the sinking of the Vestris, which has been strangely and sadly forgotten by history.
The Tragedy of the Steamboat Swallow
Peter Hess offers a moving account of the final day of the steamboat Swallow. On Monday evening, April 7, 1845, the Swallow, considered to be one of the fastest steamboats in the United States at the time, loaded passengers at Steamboat Square at the foot of Madison Avenue at the Albany Pier for a Hudson River cruise to New York City. The Swallow never made it to New York.
The Final Voyage of the F.F. Oakes
One hundred and twenty-one years ago, the steamboat F.F. Oakes embarked on a journey up the North Folk of the Flathead River, looking to load up with cheap coal, but never to return. Michael J. Ober enchants us with his story of the last week of this utilitarian vessel, not much to look at, a mountain-boat class built to navigate the winding, low-water, inland rivers, manned by experienced rivermen who weren't able to navigate the challenging waters of the Flathead.
PowerShips Winter 2014 | No. 288
The SSHSA Annual Awards 2013
Each year the Steamship Historical Society of America recognizes ships and individuals that have made significant contributions to the history of engine-powered vessels. John Hamma introduces us to the 2013 ship winners – Ship of the Year, Museum Ship of the Year, and Tugboat of the Year – and the individual winners of the C. Bradford Mitchell Award in recognition of a single achievement, the H. Graham Wood Award for long-time service to SSHSA, and the Jay Allen Award for distinguished editorial service.
Remembering the America of 1940
In 1936, the United States embarked on the biggest shipbuilding program the world had yet seen, 6,000 merchant ships in all. The lead vessel was the 33,500-grt America, launched in August 1939 as flagship of the United States Lines and the entire U.S. merchant marine. In his continuing series on the Lives of the Liners, William Miller offers a brief history of the America, including its World War II life as the 10,000-capacity troopship USS West Point.
American Tank Ships
Jim Shaw examines how this very important vessel type has changed since the first deepsea tanker, the British-built Glückauf, was placed in service over 125 years ago, and how the U.S.-flag tank ship fleet has evolved through the decades.
The Vessels of the Lake Okanagan Inland Marine Museum
Charles Bogart gives us a tour of the vessels currently preserved at the Lake Okanagan Inland Marine Museum in New Brunswick: the restored steam paddlewheeler SS Sicamous, the steam-powered tug-icebreaker SS Naramata and the Canadian National Railroad tug CN No. 6.
The SS Nomadic: Last of the White Star Line
SS Nomadic is a White Star Line steamship, launched on 25 April 1911 in Belfast. Built as a tender to RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, she is now the last surviving White Star Line vessel. Jim Leggett describes how she has been restored to her original glory and is now back home in Belfast’s historic Hamilton Dock awaiting visitors.
Postwar American Export Lines Freighters
As the end of the service life of AEL’s Exporter-type freighters built before WWII approached, the line estimated that some $436 million would be required to build replacements. David Hendrickson presents the second installment of his history of the ships of the “Milkman of the Mediterranean” as AEL was known, the eighteen cargo ships that were delivered to AEL between 1960 and 1973.
The Yacht of Camelot: Bringing Back the Honey Fitz
Magnificent in both appearance and construct during her heyday, Honey Fitz, once a yacht of five Presidents – Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon – had fallen into tragic disrepair after she was retired from the U.S. government and private charters. When the restoration team took control of Honey Fitz her condition could not have been more heartbreaking, but after the labors of a three-year period she emerged as a yacht fit once again for a president. Vera Harsh and Diana Moraco tell us about their recent visit of this magnificent yacht.