SS HARVARD – California’s night boat from Los Angeles to San Francisco went aground in 1931…

On May 31, 1931 the passenger steamship SS Harvard went aground off Point Arguello, California.


The Harvard was running its regular schedule between San Francisco and Los Angeles with 500 passengers when it went hard aground during the night in heavy fog.

The sea was calm and there was no panic among the passengers.

The Harvard’s lifeboats were lowered and stood by until a passing freighter arrived on scene.


The passengers would later be transferred to the U.S. Navy cruiser U.S.S. Louisville which had been at anchor at Los Angeles harbor.

The Harvard broke up and became a total loss before it could be re-floated.


The 3700 ton Harvard was launched in 1907 at Chester, Pennsylvania.

The vessel served a short time in World War I as a troopship before going back into service as a passenger steamship.

The Los Angeles Steamship Company or LASSCO was a passenger and freight shipping company based in Los Angeles, California.

Founded by Harry Chandler (owner of the Los Angeles Times).


LASSCO History…

The company, formed in 1920, initially provided fast passenger service between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In 1921, LASSCO added service to Hawaii in competition with the San Francisco-based Matson Navigation Company using two former North German Lloyd ocean liners that had been in U.S. Navy service during World War I.

Despite the sinking of one of the former German liners on her maiden voyage for the company, business in the booming 1920s thrived, and the company continued to add ships and services. the worsening economic conditions in the United States, and the burning of another ship in Hawaii, caused financial problems for the company.

After beginning talks in 1930, the Los Angeles Steamship Company was taken over by Matson Navigation on January 1, 1931, but continued to operate as a subsidiary until it ceased operations in 1937.

This is a list of passenger ships of the Los Angeles Steamship Company: SS Calawaii, SS City of Honolulu, SS City of Honolulu, SS City of Los Angeles, SS Diamond Head, SS Harvard, SS Waimea and SS Yale.



One comment

  1. “Someday something would happen to the liner, we all knew, because she was so regular. Such regularity as hers did not belong to the sea. Her regularity belonged to trains or to subways, but not to tides and currents, wind and fog.

    The liner arrived at eight in the evening and departed at nine in the morning. Twice a week the vessel did this, twice a week for ten years, five months and four days. Then it happened, and now the double bottom of the liner is held by sharp rocks and a shoal of sand….

    Even after all these months of expecting the thing would happen, the actuality was too surprising to believe. For this liner was no ordinary coastal liner. Her sides were of such clean white that they dazzle when struck by the sun. The liner has operated out of here for so long that it is part of the harbor, the same as the sand bar, the same as the channel beacons.

    The liner itself will not really be missed until next week. We will start to miss the vessel then, for its familiar berth on the south side of the main pier will be vacant. On Tuesdays and Fridays we will look for the liner, but it will not be there.”

    – excerpt from Chapter XXXI, I Cover The Waterfront, Max Miller, 1932. Chapter tells about the monkey and cat mascots of the liner, which has to be the Harvard though isn’t named.

    Photo of either Yale or Harvard at berth on south side of the Broadway Pier:

    The sign over the pier’s archway even said Yale and Harvard…

    …until it only said Yale:

    (For some reason, always calls it the Howard ( and gets other facts wrong… Ah well.

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