for the S.S. America
were laid down under the first Maritime Commission contract on August
22, 1938. The builder was to be the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry
dock Company, in Newport News Virginia. The America
was designed by noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs
and constructed for the United
States Lines company. She was one of the few ocean
liners of the time that had interiors designed by women.
S.S. America was launched on August 31, 1939 and was
sponsored by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the President of the United
States. The America
served her owners faithfully for 55 years until she was finally run
aground in the Canary Islands in 1994. To this day she sits
stranded, and deteriorating.
The S.S. America was the flagship of the United
States Lines when she commenced her maiden voyage on August
22, 1940. In less than a year, she was called up to assist the allied
efforts during World War II.
entry in World War II, the United States military was desperate for
transport. Non-essential civilian ships were often temporarily
employed for use by the armed services.
the S. S. America,
the call would come whilst on cruise to Saint Thomas in the Virgin
Islands. In late May of 1941 she was ordered to return to Newport
News to be handed over to the Navy.
America was moored at Norfolk and acquired by the Navy on
June 1, 1941, to be used as a troop transport. The ship was renamed the USS
West Point. (AP-23)
In 1945 the U.S.S.
Point traveled to Italian and French ports. Its mission was
to take part in the “Magic Carpet” voyages, bringing home American
troops from the European battlefronts.
her Naval service she would carry over 350,000 troops – the most of
any Navy troopship in service during World War II.
would also carry Red Cross workers, United Nations officials, children,
civilians, prisoners of war, and U.S.O. entertainers.
she was re-titled the America
and returned to the civilian sector. In 1952 she was joined
by a sister ship run by United States Lines, the S.S.
United States. With the introduction of the larger and
faster ship in 1952, America’s
reign as queen of the US merchant marine was short-lived.
From Sometime Interesting
– The Story of the SS America