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Article: Lives of the liners: 2

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    Lives of the liners: 2

    2 Comments by Doc Vernon Published on 7th March 2018 03:22 AM


    “Grace Kelly was, of course, the most publicized passenger when she sailed on the Constitution for her wedding in Monaco to Prince Rainier in April 1956,” added Herb Maletz, a onetime comptroller in the Export main office along New York City’s Lower Broadway. “The ship was especially diverted to Monte Carlo just for her, her family and the American wedding party. Of course, we carried lots of reporters on that trip as well” John Scott remembered, “I was serving aboard a US battleship that made a courtesy call to Monte Carlo in 1957, the year after their much publicized wedding. “Prince Rainier & Princess Grace were coming aboard. Just before, the officer of the watch announced over the address system: ‘All hands on deck to welcome Princess Grace & Prince Reindeer’!” “On several occasions, we also had Ibn Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia,” added Herb Maletz. “He would usually arrive or depart in Casablanca. He was an extraordinary passenger. He gave $1,000 tips and gold Rolex watches to the staff. Hassan II, the king of Morocco, crossed to New York in 1962 with an entourage of 100 aboard the Constitution. He and his party occupied all the suites and some first class staterooms. They had lots of trunks, gifts for the staff and were transporting a pony that to be a gift for little Caroline Kennedy. The captain was presented with a token of appreciation: a sword with as case
    emblazoned with hundreds of diamonds, rubies and emeralds.” The Independence and Constitution also carried great numbers of Catholic clergy, businessmen, tourists and westbound immigrants. In 1962, tourist class rates for the 9 nights to Naples started at $289, in cabin class at $334 and in first class from $421. A 44-night mid-winter Mediterranean cruise was priced from $1245.





    The Atlantic liner business began to collapse, however, soon after the first crossings on commercial jets in the fall of 1958. By the early ‘60s, the airlines had over 95% of all traffic. The Independence and her sister lost money, then lots of money. Even a last-ditch attempt at inexpensive cruising ($98 and up for a week to the Caribbean, but minus food in the dining room) failed. The two ships were laid-up in 1968 as American Export pulled out of the passenger ship business altogether. Amidst rumors that included sales to the Chandris Lines
    as well as Italy’s Lauro Line, the two ships sat idle for six years before C. Y. Tung, a Taiwanese shipping tycoon and who liked older, out-of-work passenger ships, bought them but for uncertain roles. Fuel oil prices had tripled in 197374 and so it was not an especially good time for big, oilhungry, steam turbine-driven liners. Consequently, for the next six or so years, the Independence and Constitution were quietly moored in backwater bays near Hong Kong. By 1980, however, Tung had foresight. Filling a void left by the old Matson Line passenger ships, the Independence was refitted, re-flagged as an American ship (she had changed to Liberian registry in 1974 as the Oceanic Independence) and entered 7-day, inter-island service out of Honolulu. The Constitution followed two years later



    The Independence, reconfigured for 900 passengers, remained in Hawaiian service for 21 years. She had a major, life-extending refit in 1994, sailing to and from the Newport News Shipyard in Virginia via the Panama Canal. “Greater maintenance & higher operating costs were of course part of operating the ‘Indy’ as we called her,” noted American Hawaii vice-president Bill Anunsen in 2001. “We have lots of spare parts for the Independence taken from her sister, the Constitution, which sank off Hawaii in November 1997 while empty and being towed from Portland, Oregon to an Asian scrap yard. The Constitution had not been refitted in the ‘90s like the Independence and was laid-up at Portland in early 1996. Very few of the original, 1950-51 manufacturers of parts for the Independence remained in business fifty years later. But even the few that remain, these do not make parts from the 1950s. Existing parts, both those in use and those held as spares in warehouses in Honolulu harbor, have long lives, however. Bethlehem Steel, the builder, used the very finest equipment and mechanical parts.”



    “We run the Independence at only 12-14 knots in Hawaiian islands cruising,” added Anunsen. “Her 7-day itinerary out of Maui is balanced between morning and evening departures. Channel crossings were made at night when the passengers were usually asleep. There are no stabilizers on the Independence, but she always rode very well. She is a very solid ship, built to very high US Government standards. Any rough spots in sailing came late night and therefore caused the least inconvenience. She burned 2700-2800 barrels of fuel oil, which costs 30% more in Hawaii than in US mainland ports. The newer, 1983-built Patriot, as a comparison, burns 1800 barrels.” In Hawaiian service, the Independence had a crew of 330, all of which were either US citizens or registered aliens. “She had one of the youngest hotel staffs at sea,” concluded Anunsen, “and one of the friendliest, most smiling crews anywhere. There were 12-18 week rotations with 6-week leaves. She was a great training ground for crew members as well as a good place for upgrading licenses and certificates. The youngish crew had a great passion and their goal was to make memories. In the end, the Independence reached her third generation of making memories in the Pacific. She was actually a moving piece of Hawaii. From stem to stern, the Independence was Hawaiiana!” After the dramatic and drastic downturns in worldwide travel following the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, however, American Hawaii Cruises lost a huge number of passengers and then quickly slipped into bankruptcy. Finally, the Independence sailed empty to San Francisco and, by December 2001, was moored at Alameda, silent and lifeless and being prepared to take a place in the US Government’s “mothball fleet” of ships in reserve at nearby Suisun Bay. Soon and almost expectedly, some flash rumors surfaced: using the ship in future as a museum ship or “military rest & recreation center” for battle crews out in the Middle East or as a combination moored hotel & casino. In September 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it was reported that she would be moved to New Orleans for use as temporary housing. Meanwhile, Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines had renewed interest in establishing a US-flag cruise division and their plans included restoration not only of the long-idle United States, but the Independence as well. Enthusiasts seemed excited, but nothing came to pass. Instead, the faded Independence (later renamed as Oceanic & then Platinum II) --- minus her main mast, which had been removed for bridge clearance --- remained idle, but at the former Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in San Francisco.

    To be Continued
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    Default Re: Lives of the liners: 2

    Thanks for putting them up Vernon, was not sure if they would fit or not when I forwarded to you.
    Happy daze John in Oz.

    Life is too short to blend in.

    John Strange R737787
    World Traveller

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    Default Re: Lives of the liners: 2

    Took some doing John I can tell you.
    But got there!
    Not just the normal ones as there were too many Pics!
    That is why I had to break it into three Sections!
    Cheers
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