SS ALEUTIAN (SS TRADEWIND)… Hawaiian-Pacific’s short bid to compete with Matson Lines during the 1950s with voyages to Hawaii from San Francisco.


Hawaiian-Pacific was hastily organized in 1953 to operate low-price travel to Hawaii from California against its chief competitor, Matson Lines.


Matson had the beautiful totally rebuild cruise liner SS Lurline – with air-conditioning, extensive deck space and full first class service.  All ships operating between the US mainland and Hawaii must fly the American flag.  Crews and staff must be US citizens.  This is true today.  The only way around it is touching at a foreign port.  Many lines, such as Holland-America or Princess Cruises, call at Ensenada, Mexico, to get around this problem regulated by the Jones Act.


The company chartered the 47-year-old SS Aleutian from Alaska Steamship, and the ship arrived in San Francisco on November 28, 1953.  The SS Aleutian was designed for Alaska service when the Alaska Steamship Lines went out of business in 1954.  The Alaska company (US flag) went out of business because of major labor strikes and problems with unions which ended up destroying the jobs for members along with the passenger line services to Alaska (then a territory).


The SS Aleutian arriving in Ketchikan, Alaska and docked in the port town.  Photos were most likely taken from the Canadian National small liner SS Prince Rupert.  

The initial voyage of the Aleutian was set to depart from San Francisco on 5 December, but inter-union squabbles broke out, and it was canceled.

A new sailing date was announced, December 21, with twelve more to follow at fares ranging from $125 to $310 one way and $220 to $560 for the round trip.


This time, however, the squabbles ended in full-scale riots on the waterfront.  The company was using American crews, but it was believed Matson Line’s backed union leaders to cause problems for the new competition.

Hawaiian-Pacific had no choice but to terminate the charter, and Aleutian left San Francisco on December 17 bound for Seattle This ended the idea of low-cost travel to Hawaii, and the competition for Matson.

See previous blog for details on the SS Tradewind’s next failed cruise service.

 ss Aleutians, Alaska steamship, coastal ships, cruise history, cruise liners, steamship lines, cruise ships



About Michael L. Grace

During the mid-80s, Michael Grace worked as a writer on the TV Hit Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in late 50s to early 70s. The very successful CRUISING THE PAST website has been an outgrowth of Michael’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website. Michael is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. He has written for television and films. Read more by going to "About" (on the above dashboard) and clicking "Editor"…