MV Aurora (1955)
|Name:||1955-1960: Wappen von Hamburg
1967-1970: Polar Star
1970-1972: Pacific Star
1960-1967: Nomikos Line
1967-1970: West Tour
1972-1974: Xanadu Cruises
1974-1982: J. Eisenberg
1982-1984: Pan Aleutian Seafoods
1985-1991: Xanadu, Inc
1991-1998: Friend Ships
2005-Present: Chris Willson
|Port of registry:||1955-1960: Hamburg, Germany
1961-1967: Piraeus, Greece
1967-1983: Vancouver, Canada
1983-1985: Tacoma, Washington
1985-2009: Los Angeles, California
2009-Present: San Francisco, California
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss|
|Launched:||February 1, 1955|
|Completed:||May 14, 1955|
|Out of service:||1977|
|Status:||To be preserved in San Francisco, CA|
|Notes:||Her first name Wappen von Hamburg means "Coat of arms of Hamburg" in German.|
|Propulsion:||Maybach diesel engines|
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)|
|Capacity:||1955: 1,600 passengers|
Aurora was launched as the Wappen von Hamburg for HADAG at Blohm & Voss, intended to be used for day long cruise voyages from Hamburg, calling at Cuxhaven, Helgoland, and Hörnum. She was the first ship to be built in West Germany since World War II. However, after only five years with her original owners, Wappen Von Hamburg was sold to Greek interests, the Nomikos Line. With this sale she was renamed Delos and refitted, the additions being a swimming pool, air conditioning in all cabins, a spa, beauty salon, and gift shop.
In 1967 the ship was sold to West Tour and renamed Polar Star for cruising in Alaskan waters. She passed through several owners and names during her decade long stay in Alaska, even once being partially owned by the Holland America Line. Eventually as the cruise industry began to fade, the now renamed Xanadu was laid up in Vancouver in 1977. In 1985 a new Los Angeles-based company planned to rename Xanadu Expex and moor her as an exhibition ship. This plan never took off and she remained laid up. In 1991 there were plans to convert this ship into a hospital ship for use in the Caribbean, but she never operated in this role due to funds falling through.
In 2005 the ship was towed from Vancouver to Alameda, California, with a plan to rebuild her into a luxury yacht in mind. At this point in time Faithful was in a poor visual condition, with the majority of her paint peeled off and faded, her metal rusting, and parts of her wooden railings missing. In 2009 the Faithful was featured on the Life After People episode Holiday Hell, in which maritime enthusiast Peter Knego is interviewed on the history and condition of Faithful.
Soon afterward, the preservation of Faithful to Aurora began, which included repainting her hull white and funnel blue, and adding new carpeting, furniture, and paint to the interior, as well as a dance floor. On August 1, 2010, the newly renamed Aurora set out under tow by the research vessel Robert Gray to be berthed at Pier 38 in San Francisco at 3:00 AM, arriving the next day around 10:00 PM, and tying up at Pier 38 at 10:45. She is to be opened as a tourist attraction in the near future.
Legal issues and controversy
On August 12, 2011 the Port of San Francisco wharfinger approached the vessel's owner, Christopher Willson, with a notice that Pier 38 would be shut down due to structural and electrical issues. The Aurora would have to be moved to another mooring within three days, when all of the port's services to the vessel (mooring, electricity, location etc.) would be cut off. The vessel could be forcibly removed from Willson's ownership and sold for scrap. Willson stated he is "capable of finding another location but at this point we cannot move the vessel to a new location without proper finances or a donated tug.”