The Mayaguez under attack by Khmer Rouge gunboats
SS Mayaguez was a U.S.-flagged container ship that attained notoriety for its 12 May 1975 seizure by Khmer Rouge forces of Cambodia, which resulted in a confrontation with the United States at the close of the Vietnam War.
The Mayaguez was first launched in April 1944 as SS White Falcon, a C2-S-AJ1 (U.S. Maritime Commission) built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company of Wilmington, North Carolina. Her sister ship was the SS Ponce.
After World War II, she was renamed the Santa Eliana. In 1960, she was lengthened and widened by the Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and converted into the first U.S.-flagged, all-container ship devoted to foreign trade, with a capacity of 382 containers below-deck plus 94 on-deck. She was renamed SS Sea in 1964, and SS Mayaguez (named after the city of Mayagüez on the west coast of Puerto Rico) in 1965.
Beginning in 1965, the Mayaguez sailed a regular route for Sea-Land Service, Inc. in support of American forces in Southeast Asia: Hong Kong – Sattahip, Thailand – Singapore. On 7 May 1975, about a week after the fall of Saigon, Mayaguez left Hong Kong on what was said to be a routine voyage.
Capture and recovery
Duly retrieved from Khmer Rouge forces, the Mayaguez was taken out of service and eventually scrapped, in 1979.
- "Capture and Release of the SS Mayaguez by Khmer Rouge forces in May 1975". American Merchant Marine at War.
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