The Delta Line was cruising to South America from New Orleans in the 1950s. The steamship company introduced three revolutionary passenger-cargo ships to its South American services in the post-war years of the 1940s. In keeping with the trade name of the company, “Delta Line”, the three vessels were given “Del” names DEL NORTE, DEL SUD and DEL MAR. The three “Dels” unusual design, by the naval architect George G. Sharp of New York, made them unique along the New Orleans waterfront and the east coast of South America, an area where they traded for nearly a quarter of a century.
The liners were originally based on standard C-3 design cargo hulls all that were available for purchase during the late war years. With the cooperation of Admiral Vickery, head of the construction division of the American Maritime Commission, Delta Line arranged that three of these hulls be redesigned as passenger/cargo vessels to re-establish the company’s services to South America. The ships, built at the Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula, Mississippi, were fitted with D.R. geared turbines giving a 17-knot service speed. A new innovation for the time was complete air-conditioning throughout the accommodation areas for passengers, officers and crew. Being nearly identical, the sister ships were all 10,074 tons, 495 feet in length and 70 feet in breadth. Their total cost in 1946 was over $7,000,000 each.