1960s – Photo from Cruise History – San Francisco, California – P&O liners SS CANBERRA (docked at the Matson Line pier) and the SS ARCADIA (in background) sailing away.
Video cruise history of the French Line’s fabulous liner SS Normandie.
SS Normandie was a French ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France, for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. When launched in 1932 she was the largest and fastest ship in the world, and she maintains the distinction of being the most powerful steam turbo-electric propelled passenger ship ever built in cruise history.
Her novel design features and lavish interiors have led many to consider her the greatest of all ocean liners.
Despite this, she was not a commercial success, and relied partly on government subsidy to operate. During her service career as the flagship of the CGT, she made 139 transatlantic crossings westbound from her home port of Le Havre to New York (but only 138 eastbound).
During World War II, Normandie was seized by United States authorities at New York and renamed USS Lafayette. In 1942, while being converted to a troopship, the liner caught fire, capsized, and sank at the New York Passenger Ship Terminal. Although she was salvaged at great expense, restoration of the vessel was deemed too costly, and she was scrapped in October 1946.
“If there’s a better or more lovingly displayed collection of S.S. Normandie material in the world (and that includes France), I don’t know of it. What Crash has assembled in the Miottel Collection is nothing less than the history of a legend. For people interested in transatlantic shipping in general and the Normandie in particular, it is the mother lode.” Harvey Ardman, Author: “NORMANDIE HER LIFE AND TIMES”
Cruise Ship History: When going by ship from San Francisco to Portland was faster than the train and cost $38.40 round-trip first class.
The Great Northern Pacific Steamship Company was formed by James Hill on September 30, 1914.
The company operated two ships, the S.S. Great Northern and S.S. Northern Pacific.
The ships proved faster than the Southern Pacific’s express trains until bridges replaced much slower ferries in the northern area of San Francisco Bay.
During the winter season of 1915-6, the ships also ran to Hawaii.
Eventually the service was not a success and the line was for sale when World War I intervened.
The U.S. government commandeered the ships on September 17, 1917, ending the line. Both ships survived the war, but the Northern Pacific burned and sank on while being towed to be refit.
Dining Salon aboard the H. F. Alexander.
The Great Northern returned to coast wise liner service for many years with the (Admiral Line) Pacific Steamship Co. as their H.F. Alexander.
He did this during summers while studying at the University of California in the 1920s.
African-Americans were employed as bellman, waiters and stewards. This was similar work as the Pullman Porters. There were no unions at that time. Hours were long but pay, including tips, was good enough to put your way through school. From the photos, it is obvious America was very segregated – even on the West Coast of the USA.
Scenes aboard the H. F. Alexander.
S.S. Great Northern (American Passenger Liner, 1915). Later renamed H.F. Alexander.
S.S. Great Northern, an 8255 gross ton passenger liner, was built in 1915 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She maintained a fast (23 knot) passenger service along the Pacific Coast during the next two years and, in 1917-1922, was in U.S. Government service as the Navy transport Great Northern, Army transport Great Northern and Navy fleet flagship Columbia. Returned to merchant service following her March 1922 decommissioning, the ship was the Admiral Steamship Lines’ H.F. Alexander over the following two decades.
During World War I, as the USS Columbia officers are seen in the ward room. A former public room.
During World War II.
During World War II she was briefly under British ownership before rejoining the U.S. Army in July 1942. Renamed George S. Simonds later in that year, she was in Army service until March 1946. Regaining the name H.F. Alexander, she was laid up in the Maritime Commission’s reserve fleet facility at Lee Hall, Virginia, from then until sold for scrapping in February 1948.
S.S. H. F. Alexander (former Great Northern)