SS Independence

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Oceanic Leaving SF.jpg
SS Oceanic towed out of San Francisco.
Career
Name:1951—1974: Independence
1974: Oceanic Independence
1974—1975: Sea Luck I
1975—1982 Oceanic Independence
1982—2006: Independence
2006—2009: Oceanic
2009—2011: Platinum II
Owner:1951—1974: American Export Lines
1974—1979: Atlantic Far East Lines
1979—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2003: United States Maritime Administration[citation needed]
2003—2005: California Manufacturing Corp
2005: Norwegian Cruise Line
2005—2009: California Manufacturing Corp[1]
Operator:1951—1969: American Export Lines
1969—1974: laid up
1974—1976: Atlantic Far East Lines
1976—1980: laid up/rebuilt
1980—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2008: laid up[1]
Port of registry:1951—1974: New York,  United States
1974—1979: Panama City,  Panama
1979—present: Honolulu,  United States[1]
Ordered:1950[citation needed]
Builder:Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA
Yard number:1618[1]
Laid down:1950[citation needed]
Launched:3 June 1950[1]
Completed:1951
Acquired:22 January 1951[1]
Maiden voyage:10 February 1951[1]
In service:1951—1969, 1974—1976, 1980—2001
Out of service:2001
Identification:IMO number: 5160180[1]
Fate:Grounded and subsequently broken up off Alang, India
Notes:One of the last US-flagged liners
General characteristics (as built)[1]
Type:Ocean liner
Tonnage:23,719 GRT
7,250 DWT
Length:208.01 m (682.45 ft)
Beam:27.18 m (89.17 ft)
Draft:9.20 m (30.18 ft)
Decks:12[citation needed]
Installed power:Two Bethlehem Steel Corporation steam turbines
40,456 kW (combined)
Speed:22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Capacity:1,000 passengers
General characteristics (after 1959 refit)[1]
Type:Cruise ship
Tonnage:23,754 GRT
Capacity:395 passengers
General characteristics (after 1974 refit)[1]
Capacity:950 passengers
General characteristics (after 1980 refit)[1]
Tonnage:20,221 GRT
Capacity:1,073 passengers
 
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Oceanic Leaving SF.jpg
SS Oceanic towed out of San Francisco.
Career
Name:1951—1974: Independence
1974: Oceanic Independence
1974—1975: Sea Luck I
1975—1982 Oceanic Independence
1982—2006: Independence
2006—2009: Oceanic
2009—2011: Platinum II
Owner:1951—1974: American Export Lines
1974—1979: Atlantic Far East Lines
1979—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2003: United States Maritime Administration[citation needed]
2003—2005: California Manufacturing Corp
2005: Norwegian Cruise Line
2005—2009: California Manufacturing Corp[1]
Operator:1951—1969: American Export Lines
1969—1974: laid up
1974—1976: Atlantic Far East Lines
1976—1980: laid up/rebuilt
1980—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2008: laid up[1]
Port of registry:1951—1974: New York,  United States
1974—1979: Panama City,  Panama
1979—present: Honolulu,  United States[1]
Ordered:1950[citation needed]
Builder:Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA
Yard number:1618[1]
Laid down:1950[citation needed]
Launched:3 June 1950[1]
Completed:1951
Acquired:22 January 1951[1]
Maiden voyage:10 February 1951[1]
In service:1951—1969, 1974—1976, 1980—2001
Out of service:2001
Identification:IMO number: 5160180[1]
Fate:Grounded and subsequently broken up off Alang, India
Notes:One of the last US-flagged liners
General characteristics (as built)[1]
Type:Ocean liner
Tonnage:23,719 GRT
7,250 DWT
Length:208.01 m (682.45 ft)
Beam:27.18 m (89.17 ft)
Draft:9.20 m (30.18 ft)
Decks:12[citation needed]
Installed power:Two Bethlehem Steel Corporation steam turbines
40,456 kW (combined)
Speed:22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Capacity:1,000 passengers
General characteristics (after 1959 refit)[1]
Type:Cruise ship
Tonnage:23,754 GRT
Capacity:395 passengers
General characteristics (after 1974 refit)[1]
Capacity:950 passengers
General characteristics (after 1980 refit)[1]
Tonnage:20,221 GRT
Capacity:1,073 passengers

SS Independence was an ocean liner built in 1951 for American Export Lines. Between 1974 and 1982 she sailed as Oceanic Independence for Atlantic Far East Lines and American Hawaii Cruises, after which she reverted to her original name. Independence was then operated by American Global Line between 1982 and 1996, and again American Hawaii Cruises until 2001 when she was laid up in San Francisco.

In 2006 the ship was renamed Oceanic and, after being mothballed for seven years, she left San Francisco for Singapore on 8 February 2008. The destination later changed to Dubai. In 2009 she was renamed Platinum II and left Dubai under tow for the shipbreaking yards in Alang, India. After having been turned away from the scrap yards due to hazardous materials she was grounded off Alang.[2] Later her hull broke in two aft of the smokestacks, making refloating impossible. She will be scrapped on the spot.[3]

Independence had a sister ship, SS Constitution, which sank while under tow en route to be scrapped in 1997.

Contents

Service history

American Export Lines

SS Independence, 23,719 GRT, and the 23,754 GRT, SS Constitution were built by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA for the American Export Lines to operate on the US Mediterranean service. She was constructed in yard 1618 of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy Massachuetts. She was launched on June 3, 1950 and completed January 1951. Her first master was Captain Hugh Lee Switzer (1898–1991), who served from 1951 to 1964 and had previously served as captain aboard the SS La Guardia. Both the Independence and the Constitution sported black hulls and American export lines funnel colors. Independence departed on her maiden voyage, being a cruise to the Mediterranean, on February 11. On April 12 she departed her first liner voyage from New York to Genoa, later the route was changed to New York to Naples. In 1959, both ships were sent to Newport News, where their forward superstructure was moved 22 feet forward and lifted up by one deck, in order to increase First Class passenger capacity by more than 100 berths. Sadly, the reconstruction changed the previously well balanced, graceful look, especially with the loss of half of the glass enclosed promenade deck and the added height forward. Accommodations were now listed as 484 First Class, 350 Cabin Class, and 254 Tourist Class passengers. During their heyday, many movies were made on board with such stars as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and many others. They also carried high profile passengers such as President Harry Truman, Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, even King Saud. Both ships continued on the Mediterranean run, however, like most Trans-Atlantic liners of the day, passenger numbers dropped and the service was suspended in 1967.[4]

Atlantic Far East Line

In January 1974, both Independence and Constitution were sold to the Atlantic Far East Line Inc., Monrovia, being part of the massive C.Y. Tung group. Independence was renamed Oceanic Independence and after a refit she commenced cruising, with a new passenger capacity of 950 passengers. However, Constitution, renamed Oceanic Constitution, was laid up at Hong Kong on August 4, 1974. Oceanic Independence continued to cruise until she was also laid up at Hong Kong on January 17, 1976. In November that year there were rumours that she was to be sold to Shannon SA, of Panama, but, this did not eventuate. Oceanic Independence remained laid up and was renamed Sea Luck I for a short time but soon after renamed Oceanic Independence once more.[4]

American Hawaii Cruises

SS Independence at Honolulu in 2001.

As they were no longer American-flagged ships, C.Y. Tung was not able to operate them within American waters. However, in 1979 both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved their return to the States. In 1980, C.Y. Tung transferred Oceanic Independence to their newly established; US based American Hawaii Cruises Inc. After extensive repairs and a refit at the Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd, Kobe Japan, Oceanic Independence now accommodated 750 one class passengers, and she was listed as being 20,220 GRT. Oceanic Independence departed on her maiden cruise in June, 1980, operating 7-Day cruises around the Hawaiian Islands from Honolulu. On September 24, 1981, she sustained minor damage off the coast of Nawiliwili, however passengers were safely taken from the ship and flown home. In October she was taken to San Francisco for repairs and soon returned to service. In 1982, American Hawaii Cruises Inc became part of the American Global Line, Inc, and she became Independence once again. With Independence having been successful in 1980, Oceanic Constitution was refitted in Taiwan and departed for Honolulu with a passenger capacity of 1,088, and was listed at 20,199 GRT. She was transferred to the American Global Line, Inc, and was rechristened by Princess Grace of Monaco under her original name, Constitution. She commenced cruising out of Honolulu in June 1982. In 1984, her passenger numbers was reduced to 800. Both ships were officially reregistered in Honolulu in 1987. In 1994 Independence was withdrawn from service and she headed to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry dock Company for an extensive refit. However, in April 1996 American Hawaii Cruises decided to retire the forty six year old Constitution, which they said was due to her high running costs and renovations required. She was finally laid up due the company’s financial problems. During her lay-up many of her parts were taken and were used on Independence. After the demise of Constitution, her older sister became the last US built ocean liner to sail under the American flag. Celebrations were held on board during Independence's 1,000th voyage in August 1999. 2001 bankruptcy of American Hawaii Cruises, the owners of the American Hawaii Line, Independence became the property of the US Maritime Administration and sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco, arriving on 8 November 2001 to be greeted and led by the fireboat Phoenix.[4][5]

Norwegian Cruise Line

SS Oceanic (right) laid up at Pier 70 San Francisco, with the Hanjin COSCO Busan under repair next to her, following its collision with the Bay Bridge

In February 2003, Independence was sold at auction for US$4 million to Norwegian Cruise Line, which also acquired SS United States. At this time, NCL received permission to create US-flagged cruise operation, to be named NCL America. (US flagging is a valuable competitive advantage, as the Passenger Service Act prohibits non-US lines from transporting passengers from one US port to another without stopping at a foreign port, and in particular it permits 7-day Hawaii cruises. As US flagging requires US-built ships, no other major cruise operation is US-flagged.)

In mid-2006, Independence was renamed Oceanic, amid speculation she may be scrapped. In July 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Oceanic had been sold with later reports claiming the ship had been purchased by an American company.

Final journey to Alang

Departure from San Francisco

Oceanic was towed out of San Francisco Bay on 8 February 2008. Its final destination was revealed to be Singapore, but was changed to Dubai.[citation needed] Rumors had been swirling that the ship was destined for a scrapyard in India or Bangladesh,[6] but has been stopped due to a complaint filed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the ship was being towed to an overseas scrap yard.[7]

Global Marketing Systems, the last owner of Oceanic, was fined $518,500 for exporting the ship for scrap without prior removal of toxins such as asbestos and PCBs.[8]

Name change and departure to Alang

In 2009 Oceanic was renamed Platinum II and departed Dubai for Alang, being towed by a tug Barakhoda. The tug apparently lost all power and setting the two vessels adrift some 25 km off Alang. Another tug was sent to assist Barakhoda and her crew of nine.

Scrapping at Alang

In October 2009, a ship claiming to be the "SS Platinum-II" was turned away from the Alang breaker yard in India when it was discovered the ship was actually the former Oceanic. Indian authorities alleged that it had been renamed and supplied with falsified papers in order to evade regulations on toxic materials.[2][9]

In a dramatic turn-around, the Ministry of Environment and Forests intervened and gave their approval, granting Platinum II permission to be beached at Alang's shipbreaking yard. After much controversy and with demands that the ship be returned to the U.S. for being illegally exported, Platinum II was abandoned at Gopnath in a region south of the Alang on the Gujarat coast. Although she was probably no more toxic than most ships built in the 1950s and 1960s, she was deemed such for the minute amounts of radioactive materials found in her smoke detection systems and for the usual asbestos and PCBs contained in ships of her generation.

According to local sources, Platinum II was laying off shore with guards on board to protect the ship from looting and vandals. Also, reports of the hull being cracked (an unsubstantiated charge made by the ship's owners to urge the Gujarat Maritime Board to allow the ship to be beached in November) appeared to have some truth. The tug that delivered the ship into Gujarat waters had likely already been beached for scrapping, so another vessel would have been required to pull Platinum II off the embankment and bring her the short distance to Alang.[8]

Wrecked off Alang

After running aground in February 2010 mud had made it into Platinum II's cracked hull. In later news reports from India claimed the ship, aground and abandoned at Gopnath, some ten miles south of Alang, was beginning to suffer structural cracks and that she would never be able to move from her current resting place.[3] In March 2010 the vessel's hull cracked aft of the accommodation (roughly at one third of the length from the stern) and the entire hull was lying at an angle of about 35 degrees. The ship was scrapped on the spot throughout the remainder of 2010 and the wreck was reportedly completely gone by January 2011.[10]

While under investigation by the Gujarati anti-terrorist unit for smuggling radioactive, hazardous, and toxic waste to organized crime, the former Independence was looted in May–June 2010 during a cyclone.[11]

Technical details

Independence measured 683 feet (208 m) in length and 23,719 gross register tons. She was capable of cruising at 26 knots. She accommodated 1,000 passengers, and was designed to accommodate 5,000 soldiers during wartime[citation needed]. According to Life magazine, "It will house passengers in Henry Dreyfuss-designed cabins, apartments, and 'penthouses,' keep their shipboard spirits up with branches of Fifth Avenue shops, handsome public rooms and bars decorated with old tattoo designs, collections of ships in bottles and Early American silver. Late American devices include 125 feet (38 m) of picture windows in the observation lounge, polarized glass in portholes to control light and glare, and bedside telephones from which a passenger can phone anyone within 5,000 miles."[12]

See also

References

External links