The following five sequential pictures were taken by Roger Fawcett and show the United States Line
'UNITED STATES' leaving New York in the early sixties.
There is also an excellent video on the web depicting the sad demise of the AMERICA.
|Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection
The UNITED STATES gained the coveted Blue Riband for United States Lines
on her maiden voyage in 1952. She was of 53,329 gross tons, 990 feet overall and powered by geared turbines
operating quadruple screws. Her service speed was 29 knots. Passenger accommodation: 882 1st Class,
525 Cabin and 55 Tourist. She was laid up in 1969 and eventually bought by the United States Maritime Commission in
|Courtesy Edward Cowin - SM JULY/77
The AUSTRALIS (formerly the United States Line's AMERICA) was the flagship
of the Chandris Line and was, in the 1970s, engaged in regular voyages between Britain and Australia via a 'round-the-world'
route. She was originally built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company as the AMERICA and designed specifically
for the New York - Europe service of the United States Lines, the internal elegance and spaciousness of the great
days of the North Atlantic sea travel were still retained aboard AUSTRALIS
- the 'Australian Maiden'.
Completed in 1940, the AMERICA was the pride of the American merchant
marine when the United States entered the Second World War but, for subsequent service as a troop ship, the vessel
was renamed WEST POINT. Not until the end of hostilities, and after extensive refitting, was the AMERICA
able to sail for the first time on the route for which she was planned. She was acquired by Chandris in 1964 and carried
a maximum of 2,300 passengers in 761 fully air-conditioned cabins.
The FRANCE, above, of the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique
(French Line) 1961 - 1974, grt 66,350, length 1,035 feet. Builders were Chantiers et Ateliers de St.
Nazaire. Steam turbines provided an average speed of 30 knots.
After completing her sea trials in 1961 the FRANCE inaugurated her Atlantic
run from Southampton in January of 1962. The French Line and the United States Line agreed that the French ship and
the United States Line should take it in turn to make a weekly sailing from New York to Europe, sharing the Atlantic
ferry between them. This arrangement lasted from 1962 until the withdrawal of the UNITED STATES from service in
October of 1969.
Interestingly, the FRANCE always operated at a loss. It
began with 1 million pounds and reached 6 million pounds in 1973. According to one estimate every passenger was subsidised
by the French government to the tune of 20 pounds a day. In 1974 she was withdrawn from service. On
September 11th of 1974 members of the ship's company, protesting at her withdrawal, took her over as she approached
LeHavre after leaving Southampton. The French Line cancelled her last three trips, due to have been made before
her scheduled withdrawal on October 25th. The sudden protest by the crew hastened the end of her active career under
the French flag.
|Colour transparency by Ted Scull - SM MAY/92
Built as the MONTEREY for Matson Line in 1932 Chandris' BRITANIS was
a remarkable vessel. She was, for some time, one of the most popular and relatively inexpensive cruise ships
plying out of Miami and Montego Bay.
Her officers were Greek, her deck and engine crew mostly Goanese
(many veterens of the P & O's glory days) and the concessional catering staff was 'international'.
Major design changes took place in 1956 as the MATSONIA and ultimately
her Chandris refit in 1970 . The decor was pastiche of 'fifties' Matson Polynesian deco and Chandris Las Vegas which
went tegether remarkably well! Maintenance remained good under Chandris although close inspection during a cruise in
1990 revealed many (re)coats of paint and perforations around both funnels. The ship's bridge was typically American
and resembled that of a destroyer more than a liner with minimal brass and no woodwork
The following short text was provided by Carol Mavroidaki
who sailed aboard BRITANIS and AMERIKANIS as a hairdresser.
"Hairdressing at sea was very different from ashore, much
longer hours, no juniors to help shampoo & in those days we were always short of the products we needed. We resorted
to using fabric softener as conditioner & beer as setting lotion! On Chandris Lines there were normally 3 of us
in the salon on the Amerikanis because it was cruising & only 2 on Britanis when we were on the Australis run. Financially
we did much better on Amerikanis because we had American passengers who tipped very well plus, I am sure, a bit extra because
they loved our English accents! The passengers on the Britanis were what were called £10 Poms, British immigrants going
to Australia to live, they couldn't afford to tip very well & then on the way home we got nothing as the Aussies &
New Zealanders do not tip. We were always open in port when cruising so we had to take it in turns to go ashore.
In fact we were always open, even Christmas day. We normally closed at about 8pm & then we had to go up to the shops
& clean all their windows plus the glass display cases dotted around the ship! This really annoyed us, it was because
it was beneath the shop boys to do such menial tasks, this was before equal opportunities of course!! Then we could
go & eat. Somehow even with the clocks advancing almost every night going to Oz we still managed to party.
It was great on Chandris lines as we had officer status & so were allowed to use the public rooms or more importantly
the bars! A great life, very hard work but fun. Most of the friends I made I am still in touch with so it was
a very special time in my life."
Towards the end of her long career it was said that Chandris engineers
resorted to 'raiding' her laid up sister ELLINIS for parts and fittings. Her sister ship AMERIKANIS (ex Union-Castle)
would often be seen in Montego Bay and was similarly maintained.
BRITANIS was a 'smart' ship to the end and although often surrounded
in port by much more modern cruise liners she stood out as a very mature and 'grand old lady of the sea'.
Rather than suffer the 'indignity of being broken up piece by piece
BRITANIS made her own decision one day while being towed to Pakistani breakers. She sank 50 miles off Capetown, October
|Royal Mail Lines "ANDES" Courtesy Roger Fawcett
|Royal Mail Line's ANDES at the Spithead Review 1953 - Courtesy Doug Howick
|Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection
Known as "The Ship Beautiful" the AQUITANIA, above, was built in 1914
for the Liverpool/New York service of the Cunard S/S Co. After only three round voyages she was requisitioned
by the government for use as an armed merchant cruiser but it was decided that the employment of costly liners in this capacity
was not practical. She was then converted for use as a troopship then as a hospital ship and again in 1916 as a troopship.
Reconditioned and converted from coal to oil firing she resumed trans-Atlantic service in 1920 quickly becoming one of the
most popular ships on the Atlantic. In 1939 she was again requisitioned as a troopship, a role she played
until being released from government service in 1948. She was sold for demolition in 1950 arriving at Faslane
in February and promptly broken up by Bisco Ltd.
AQUITANIA was the last of the four funnelled liners and the only major
liner to service in both world wars.
Photo taken by John Blake in January 1949.
|Courtesy Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Belfast
The famous White Star Liner TITANIC, unfortunately, never
had the chance to grow 'old' but should certainly be considered a 'lady' during her very brief career.
She is seen above departing on her ill-fated voyage from Southampton
on April 10th, 1912.
Readers living in Belfast might like to visit the Ulster Folk & Transport
Museum which has an extensive range of TITANIC postcards, posters and booklets on the topic.
No, this superb view below is not of the QUEEN MARY!
This grand old lady that had never received very much press during the
last century is of the three-funnelled French Line's PARIS. She was built and launched by Chantiers et Ateliers
de St. Nazaire on September 12th. 1916. The PARIS is seen here steaming majestically on her maiden voyage from LeHavre
to New York in June, 1921 blowing her sirens and dipping her ensign to a passing CGT liner from which the photo was taken.
Sadly, during the evening of April 18th. 1939, while she
was preparing to depart from LeHavre, fire broke out in the liner's bakery. She was eventually declared a constructive
Two of the USA's finest liners are seen below at New York in the 1950s
- the AMERICA (in the foreground) and the ship that superceeded her as flagship of the US Merchant Marine, the
UNITED STATES. The AMERICA did not have the speed of the UNITED STATES. Being shorter she would actually slow
herself down. She was short in the bow and had to abe slowed down in foul weather.
The UNITED STATES arrived in July 1950 and was immediately popular but
the smaller and slower AMERICA held her own for a number of years. Both magnificent ships became the victims of jet
age travel as did all her colleagues on the North Atlantic
|Courtesy Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company - SM OCT/90
The building of the ACHILLE LAURO (originally WILLEM RUYS)
of 23,112 grt was commenced in 1940. After the liberation November 2nd. 1944 the ship was found in slightly damaged
condition and then completed on the 15th November 1947 by N.V. Koninklijke Maatschappij "DeSchelde", Vlissingen.
Official trials were conducted on the 20th November 1947 and her first
voyage was to Batavia (now Djarkarta). She was sold on January 6th 1965 to Italy and re-christened ACHILLE LAURO.
Willem Ruys had been the senior of the Ruys brothers who owned the Koninklijke
Rotterdamsche Lloyd. He was taken hostage by the Germans during the 1940-45 occupation and when a resistance group sabotaged
a German project he was shot.
She was always readily distinguishable by her dominant blue and white
colours and strangely tapered tall funnels. She is seen here at Istanbul.
Her brief history reads as if an arsonist was determined to destroy
her. One would find it difficult to find another vessel so plagued by fire as this rather unique looking vessel.
In 1965 she was severely damaged by fire whilst in port in Palermo.
In 1972 the bridge and some accommodation was also damaged by fire. This was followed in 1981 with yet another outbreak
in which 3 passengers were killed during an evacuation. As if this wasn't enough for this 'fine lady' in 1985 she was
boarded by Arabian terrorists in the Mediterranean during which an American passenger was killed. 1944 ushered in her
final 'swan song' as she caught fire off Somalia enroute from Genoa to the Seychelles and finally sank on December 2nd.
|Courtesy Peter C. Kohler - SM DEC/88
The AMERIKANIS, 12,975 grt, of Chandris Lines below was
a sister ship to the BRITANIS. She retained the familiar lines she held originally as the KENYA CASTLE built in 1952.
(See Union-Castle). As with all Chandris Lines ships she was kept in pristine condition throughout her long life until
competitive factors began to encrouch on her position within the fierce cruising world. Passenger accommodation was
somewhat cramped and, as with BRITANIS, passengers demanded more than an inboard cabin with 'toilet & shower
Whilst laid up she was advertised widely as a possible candidate for
an offshore casino boat but finally succumbed to the inevitable
|Courtesy Peter C. Kohler - SM DEC/88
The North Atlantic 'Great Liners' are usually thought of in terms of
size and speed. However, many of the most innovative and influential ships have been of moderate dimensions.
In 1951/2 Holland America Line introduced two ships unremarkable in size and speed yet, by virtue of their accommodation
arrangement, revolutionary. By giving Tourist Class virtual 'run of the ship' the RYNDAM and MAASDAM were
among the most influential and successful liners ever built.
The RYNDAM turned old conventions completely around with a token First
Class for only 39 berths secluded on the boat deck which satisfied the two-class requirement of the Trans-Atlantic Passenger
As a point of interest, which was a quite dominant feature of
these very successful ships, the funnel was a wafer thin Strombus design which was advertised as reducing wind resistance
with the slipstream carrying away the smoke. Both ships were in the 15,000 grt category.
RYNDAM ultimately became the Epirotiki cruise ship ATLAS and MAASDAM
as the last classic Atlantic liner - Polish Ocean Line's STEFAN BATORY.
|Courtesy Peter C. Kohler - SM SEP/87
The beautiful two funnelled NIEUW AMSTERDAM (36,667 grt) is seen below.
As distinct from other smaller vessels of the line which had black hulls the NIEUW AMSTERDAM had a grey hull. Her routes
varied but included, for the most part, Rotterdam, Havre, Southampton, New York with stops at Cobh and Halifax.
She was built in 1938 and was the longest ship of the fleet at 759 feet and 88 feet wide having twin screws and was a steam
turbine capable of an average speed of 21.5 knots.
Her speed was only marginally bettered by the ROTTERDAM. The latter
being built in 1959 and had a gross tonnage of 38,645.
|Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection
In March of 1922 the Swedish-Amerikan Line bought the Dutch liner NOORDAM
(12,531 grt) and she became the first KUNGSHOLM. She was sold in 1924 and 4 years later the second vessel to bear the
name entered service. She remained on the route between Gothenburg and New York until WW2 when trade on the Atlantic
ceased to exist.
The third KUNGSHOLM, a 21,141 gross ton vessel was built in 1953 and she
remained in service for 11 years before being sold to North German Lloyd and renamed EUROPA.
She survived until July 1984 when, s the COLUMBUS C,
she struck the breakwater in Cadiz Harbour and sank.
In the summer of 1963 the Swedish-Amerika Line decided to build
a 26,000 grt liner which could be used in a world cruising role for 80% of the year and on the North Atlantic for the rest
of the time. The keel was laid in January 1964 and the fourth KUNGSHOLM was launched on April 14th 1965.
In August of 1975 the Swedish-Amerika Line withdrew from passenger
ship operation completely and the KUNGSHOLM was sold to a Panamanian Company, Flagship Cruises Inc. of New York, and
this role lasted for almost 3 years without change of name.
In Seotember of 1978 it was announced that P & O had purchased
the KUNGSHOLM from Flagship Cruises and following a $12 million refit she emerged in January of 1979 minus the forward funnel
and mainmast and by heightening of the remaining funnel. P & O renamed the vessel SEA PRINCESS. 1986 saw another
change for the ship following a 6.5 million refit in Malta. She was thus provided with a white funnel bearing the Princess
On the early hours of Monday May 6th. 1991 the SEA PRINCESS left
Singapore again bearing a buff funnel and the P & O motif on her bridge superstructure. She returned to Southampton
via Penang, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Durban, Cape Town, West Africa and Tenerife, arriving
in Southampton during the early hours of June 16th. 1991.
|Courtesy Claude Meldrum Collection
|Courtesy Moran Towing /F.J. Duffy - SM DEC/91
Above, P & O's 27,670 grt cruise ship SEA PRINCESS
photographed arriving at New York on Septeber 8th. 1991.
PLEASE SCROLL TO THE TOP FOR ANOTHER