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Other name: USAT Sheridan
Sisters: Mobile, Manitoba, Mohawk
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, yard number 247
Launched December 17, 1891; delivered March 5, 1892; maiden voyage April 24, 1892; scrapped October 1923
Hull: length 445'; beam 49.2'; 5,590 tons gross, 5,291 tons under deck and 3,654 net;
steel; 4 masts; 1 funnel; 3 steel decks; 7 cemented bulkheads; fitted with electric light and refrigerating machinery
cellular double bottom 375' long; forward peak tank 72 tons; aft peak tank 50 tons; holds 30' deep; poop 57' long; bridge deck 160'; forecastle 102'
Power: twin screws; triple expansion engines by the builders, with cylinders of 22 ½", 36 ½", and 60" diameter, stroke 48"; 611 n.h.p.
2 double-ended and 2 single-ended boilers, 18 ribbed furnaces, grate surface 326 square feet, heating surface 10,500 square feet, 175 p.s.i.; coal consumption 60 tons per day; 13 knots
Port of registry, London; official number 99046; code letters MLVT
The Massachusetts was one of four sisters built as freighters for the African Steamship Company (Elder Dempster & Company) and first chartered by the Atlantic Transport Line and then purchased by it in October 1896. These ships were employed on the London to New York service on which the Massachusetts is recorded in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals making 61 voyages between May 1892 and July 1898. An article published by McLure's Magazine in 1898 (1,278 KB PDF file) gives a wonderful account of a voyage from New York to London with Barnum & Bailey's circus in 1897.
In May 1897 the Massachusetts was under the command of Captain Bocquet but she was listed in Lloyd's Register for 1897 as being under the command of Captain Richard Griffiths, commodore of the fleet. Curiously Lloyd's Register records that the Massachusetts was owned by Harland & Wolff and managed by the Atlantic Transport Line. An article in the New York Times records that her consumption of coal was 60 tons per day and another notes that she had refrigerated capacity for shipping 1,000 pounds of meat.
The Massachusetts was one of the six Atlantic Transport Line vessels requisitioned by the U. S. government in July 1898 for service as transports during the Spanish-American War. She was converted in New York but too late to serve in the war. Retained for the new permanent Army transport service and renamed Sheridan, she sailed for Manila via the Suez Canal. En route she called at Malta in February 1899 and landed 2,000 men for a parade and inspection by the Governor and his staff. The Sheridan arrived home at San Francisco on December 7, 1901.
The Sheridan was allocated to the Pacific fleet and spent much of her time plying between San Francisco and Manila. On August 31, 1906, she stranded on Barber's Point at the southwestern extremity of the Island of Oahu, Hawaii, but was refloated on October 2. Wearing United States Army uniforms and passing as discharged soldiers returning from tour of foreign duty, three Germans and an Austrian were taken off the army transport Sheridan when she docked in San Francisco on December 15, 1915, and were turned over to the Immigration authorities for investigation as illegal aliens.
According to both Duncan Haws and Eugene W. Smith the Sheridan was wrecked in 1910 after becoming stranded off the Barnegat Light on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, New Jersey. She may have been refloated because other sources indicate that she was scrapped in 1923.
Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Gilbert Provost's Register of Ships; www.lewis.army.mil; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; Merchant Fleets in Profile 2; the Ships of the Cunard, American, Red Star, Inman, Leyland, Dominion, Atlantic Transport and White Star Lines, Duncan Haws, 1979; The Transport Service, by Patrick McSherry; The New York Times, June 25, 1898; December 8, 1901; December 15, 1915
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