SS Antigua on 27 November 1942
SS Antigua (1932–58)SS Tortuga (1958–64)
|Owner:||United Mail Steam Ship Co. (1932–58)|
|Operator:||United Fruit Company|
|Port of registry:||New York (1932–58)|
|Builder:||Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Quincy, MA|
|Laid down:||30 April 1931|
|Launched:||12 December 1931|
|Completed:||delivered 1 April 1932|
|Acquired:||War Shipping Administration under bareboat charter 26 December 1941|
|Notes:||Not commissioned into the US Navy. Returned to United Fruit by 17 March 1947.|
|Beam:||60.3 ft (18.4 m)|
|Draft:||24.1 ft (7.3 m)|
|Depth:||34 ft 9 in (10.59 m) moulded to upper deck side|
SS Antigua was a United Fruit Company passenger and refrigerated cargo liner built at Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation of Quincy, Massachusetts completed in 1932. She was owned by a United Fruit subsidiary, United Mail Steam Ship Company, which registered her in New York. She carried bananas from Central America to the USA and passengers in both directions.
The ship was one of six built under the Merchant Marine Act of 1928 for the United Mail Steamship Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company, designed with specialized cooling and handling arrangements for transporting bananas with Babcock & Wilcox boilers and General Electric turbo-electric transmission: Chiriqui, Peten (originally Segovia) andTalamanca from Newport News Shipbuilding and Antigua, Quirigua and Veragua from Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation's Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. The six ships were of the same basic design with specific developments of that design left to the two builders.
Antigua was the first of the ships from Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation with keel laying 30 April 1931, launch on 12 December 1931 and delivery on 1 April 1932. Design specifications were length overall 447 ft 10 in (136.50 m), length between perpendiculars of 415 ft 0 in (126.49 m) and 428 ft 9 in (130.68 m) on designed waterline Beam of 60 ft 0 in (18.29 m) with a design draft, molded of 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m) and depth, molded to upper deck of 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m). Tonnage, in U.S., was displacement to designed waterline 10,928, gross 7,035.12 and net 3,523 with cargo capacities of 240,070 cubic feet refigerated space in two holds forward, two aft and two special low temperature holds aft with 5,370 cubic feet of mail and baggage storage. Normal service speed of 17.5 knots was driven by engines with of 10,500 normal shaft horsepower and the ship reached 19 knots during trials. A crew of 112 served the ship and up to 113 passengers.
On delivery Antigua was placed in the Pacific coastal passenger and banana trade between San Francisco and Armuelles. Between 1935 and 1936 schedules the ship changed from Pacific service to service from New York to Cuba and Puerto Barrios, Guatemala with that service continuing through 1941.
War Shipping Administration service
Antigua was delivered by United Fruit Company to the War Shipping Administration (WSA) on 26 December 1941 at New York and assigned to United Fruit for operation under WSA agreement as agent. On 27 December 1941 the US Navy designated the ship as the Mizar-class stores ship Antigua (AF-17). Navy records indicate the ship was allocated to Navy and perhaps considered for acquisition and commissioning; however, Antigua never got a naval crew or formally taken over by the Navy. Navy cancelled the name "Antigua" on 22 May 1944.
The ship underwent a limited modification at Maryland Drydock Company, of Baltimore, Maryland. Armament included a single 5"/38 caliber gun and four 3"/50 caliber guns for anti-aircraft and anti submarine use and up to eight Oerlikon 20 mm cannon anti-aircraft guns. With some modification Antigua was able to carry a number of troops as well as refrigerated stores.
The ship operated under WSA with United Fruit Company acting as its agent and providing the civilian crew. The ship apparently continued to operate in the Pacific with mentions at Eniwetok late September 1944 and being aground and pulled off a reef in Hawaiian waters during 14—21 October 1944 by USS Jicarilla (ATF-104). Antigua continued to operate under WSA until returned to United Fruit 17 March 1947.
Postwar Antigua resumed operations departing from New Orleans for destinations in Cuba, Guatemala and Honduras.
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