SS Mariposa

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SS Mariposa 1944-03-28.jpg
SS Mariposa Australian War Memorial photograph 303592 captioned "1944-03-28. Aerial port bow view of the American transport SS Mariposa which made five troop carrying voyages to Australia between 1942 and 1944. (Naval Historical Collection)"
Career
Name: SS Mariposa
Operator: Matson Lines
Home Lines
Builder: Fore River Shipyard, Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation
Launched: 1931
Maiden voyage: 16 January 1932
In service: 1932, as SS Mariposa
1953, as SS Homeric
Fate: Scrapped in 1974
General characteristics
Type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 18,017 GRT
Length: 632 ft (193 m)
Beam: 79 ft (24 m)
Propulsion: 2 × Bethlehem geared steam turbines, 28,450 shp (21,215.16 kW)
Speed: 22.84 knots (42.30 km/h; 26.28 mph)
Capacity: 704 passengers (475 first class, 229 cabin class)
Troops: 4,165[1]
Crew: 359

SS Mariposa was a luxury ocean liner launched in 1931; one of four ships in the Matson Lines "White Fleet" which included SS Monterey, SS Malolo and SS Lurline. It was later renamed the SS Homeric.

Career with Matson Lines[edit]

SS Mariposa was designed for service in the Pacific Ocean including regular stops in ports along the West Coast of the United States, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Her maiden voyage began 16 January 1932 in New York City where she sailed to Havana, transited the Panama Canal and berthed in the Port of Los Angeles before continuing on to tour ten more countries in the south and west Pacific.

War service[edit]

In World War II she operated under the War Shipping Administration[2] with allocation and close association with the U.S. Army, though not officially a U.S. Army Transport (U.S.A.T.),[3] serving as a fast troop carrier, bringing supplies and support forces to distant shores as well as rescuing persons stranded in foreign countries by the outbreak of war. Mariposa, with Navy designated troop capacity of 4,165 and speed of 20.5 knots, was one of the very large, fast transports, the largest nicknamed "Monsters," usually sailing without escort.[1]

War voyages[edit]

  • 26 December 1941 left Honolulu, Hawaii loaded with some military personnel and many military dependents accompanied by a destroyer escort and arrived in San Francisco 1 January 1942.
  • 12 January 1942 Mariposa left San Francisco in the "Australian — Suva" convoy escorted by two destroyers and the light cruiser USS Phoenix with two other troopships SS President Coolidge and the SS President Monroe (destined for Suva).[4][Note 1] This was the first large convoy to Australia after Pearl Harbor with Mariposa transporting Army personnel, ammunition and, combined with Coolidge, fifty P-40 fighters intended for the Philippines and Java.[5][6] The thirteen officers selected by the War Department to form the core of what was to become MacArthur's headquarters in the Southwest Pacific Area Command being formed in Australia as United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA), known as the "Remember Pearl Harbor" Group, were embarked in Coolidge and Mariposa. Most troops and equipment were intended to be sent on from Australia to the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) area after the Australian bound ships reached Melbourne on 1 February 1942.[5] 35th Pursuit Group commander Clinton D. "Casey" Vincent was aboard.[7][8] Mariposa made a brief stop 2 February 1942 in Melbourne before proceeding on to Perth[9] The ship had been due to continue on with the Army fighter group to India but was withdrawn and the personnel and cargo transshipped into the two Australian transports Duntroon and Katoomba.[10]
  • 19 March 1942 left San Francisco for Australia in a convoy that included RMS Queen Elizabeth
  • 28 May 1942 left Charleston, South Carolina stopping in Freetown for a week and Cape Town for a short stay before heading for Karachi[11]
  • September 1942 arrived Karachi.[11] The Mariposa arrived in New York City in early September with more than 100 American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) pilots and ground personnel aboard. They had been denied transport back to the United States on half-empty transport planes by the U.S Ferry Command.[12]
  • 21 December 1942 left Newport News, Virginia unescorted carrying 5,000 military passengers[13]
  • 3 January 1943: Overnight refueling at Rio de Janeiro
  • 26 January 1943: Aden for overnight refueling
  • 27 January 1943 disembarked outside Massawa
  • 27 February 1943 disembarked Bombay
  • 10 April 1943 arrived New York[14]
  • 15 April 1943 left Brooklyn Navy Yard for Casablanca carrying military medical units and troops including some Tuskegee Airmen
  • 24 April 1943 arrived Casablanca, French Morocco
  • mid November 1943 left Sydney Harbour bound for San Francisco. Duration 16 days. Among the passengers was the prominent Dutch pilot Ivan Smirnov (Romanized to "Smirnoff"). No Convoy.[15]
  • late 1943 Los Angeles to Hobart, Tasmania with near-mutinous passengers due to bad food[16]
  • 26 December 1943 docked Hobart
  • early 1944 docked Bombay
  • 9 March 1944 departed Los Angeles
  • 8 April 1944 arrived Bombay[17]
  • 13 April 1944 left Bombay for Boston[18]
  • 23 May 1944 arrived Boston, MA
  • Spring 1944 New York to North Africa[19]
  • 8 August 1944 left Boston for Liverpool; sailed alone[20]
  • 14 August 1944 arrived Liverpool
  • 30 August 1944 left Boston for Liverpool; sailed alone
  • 7 September 1944 arrived Liverpool
  • 1 December 1944 left Boston for Marseilles; sailed alone
  • 10 December 1944 arrived Marseilles
  • 8 January 1945 left Boston for Marseilles
  • 18 January 1945 arrived Marseilles
  • 7 May 1945 en route to the US on VE Day
  • 17 October 1945 left Le Havre for Boston bringing troops home
  • 24 October 1945 arrived Boston

1946 Australia/New Zealand dependent voyages from Australia[21]

  • 20 February 1946 (WSA operation) departed Brisbane, Australia, with 882 dependents
  • 11 April 1946 (WSA operation) departed Brisbane, Australia, with 769 dependents
  • 31 May 1946 (WSA operation) departed Brisbane, Australia, with 802 dependents
  • 11 July 1946 (WSA operation) departed Sydney, Australia, with 230 dependents

Career with Home Lines[edit]

In 1947 the ship was mothballed for six years at Union Iron Works in Alameda, California. Her engines were overhauled by Todd San Francisco Division. Home Lines bought her and renamed her SS Homeric, sailing her to Trieste for reconstruction to allow 1243 passengers: 147 First Class and 1,096 tourist class. Gross register tonnage increased to 18,563. Total length increased to 641 feet (195.5 meters). Home Lines operated her beginning 24 January 1955 for liner service between ports in the north Atlantic. In 1964 she replaced the SS Italia to steam on the regular run between New York and Nassau, Bahamas, though she in turn was shortly replaced by SS Oceanic. SS Homeric was reassigned to intra-Caribbean cruises. In 1973, a major fire destroyed much of her galley and restaurant and she was scrapped in Taiwan in 1974.[22] During the ship breaking process, her sister ship Ellinis (ex-Lurline) suffered major engine damage on a cruise to Japan; Chandris Lines was able to purchase one of the Mariposa engines from the ship breakers.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The SS President Coolidge was allocated to Navy by the War Shipping Administration (WSA) but never commissioned and thus was SS President Coolidge until sunk at Espiritu Santo 26 October 1942. The President Monroe was acquired and bareboat chartered by WSA, but not transferred to the Navy until 18 July 1943 and not commissioned until 20 August 1943 whereupon she became USS President Monroe (AP-104).

See also[edit]

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