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The Menominee in Red Star Line service, from a photo postcard published in Antwerp (Ian Newson)

S.S. Menominee

Other name: Alexandra
Sisters: Mohegan, Marquette, Manitou, Mesaba
Builder: Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, yard number 372
Launched August 3, 1897; maiden voyage 1898; sold for scrap 1927
Hull: length 475'; beam 52' 3"; 6,919 tons; 10 bulkheads; 7 holds
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine by builder with cylinders of 32", 54", and 90" diameter, stroke 66"; 770 n.h.p.
2 double-ended and 2 single-ended boilers, steam pressure 190 lbs.; bunker capacity, 1,100 tons; 13 ½ knots
Registered in London; official number 108319; call sign MNE

 

This ship was built for the Wilson & Furness-Leyland Line as the Alexandria. She made six transatlantic voyages before she and four sister ships were purchased by the Atlantic Transport Line to replace vessels sold to the U.S. government for use in the Spanish-American War. The Atlantic Transport Line paid an average of £140,000 for each of these ships.

Renamed Menominee, the ship was used on the London to New York service and is recorded in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals making 57 voyages to New York between October 1898 and February 1905, with one additional voyage in September 1914 (standing in for Minneapolis?). The Ships List website states that she made three voyages to New York for the Atlantic Transport Line between September 1914 and January 1915. The Morton Allan Directory also records an additional arrival in New York for the Atlantic Transport Line in 1924, but is not a reliable authority.

Sailing under the command of Captain Bocquet, she rescued all 23 crew of the sinking tramp steamer Glendower in March 1899, and Lloyds awarded medals to 16 of her crew after the incident. And in July 1901 Menominee rammed and sank the Gloucester fishing schooner Lucille in thick fog about ten miles west of the Nantucket shoals. Menominee was steaming at half speed, sounding her siren frequently when the accident occurred. Although the men on the schooner heard Menominee approaching she was within 100 feet of Lucille when she was first seen through the thick fog.

Once the new Minne class ships began to enter service in the early 1900s she was transferred to the Red Star Line and served this company from 1905 to 1914 working the Antwerp to Philadelphia service and carrying second class passengers. Once fitted with wireless, Menominee's call letters were "MNE." Sailing for New York in December 1903 and 500 miles West of the Scilly Isles, Menominee encountered a severe gale. "Huge waves broke over the vessel, one wave smashing the rudder head and rendering the ship totally unmanageable." Repairs were attempted and the ship drifted helplessly for several days, but she did eventually make Falmouth for temporary repairs. Full repairs were carried out in Antwerp.

After the Belgian ports from which the Red Star Line operated were taken by the Germans the Red Star Line operated from Liverpool. The Menominee served as a troopship from 1915 to 1919 and was allocated the ID number X2.

In 1919 the Menominee brought troops home from Antwerp to Southampton (arriving March 23) before sailing for Murmansk. She was one of the vessels that evacuated the North Russian Expeditionary Force after a campaign known at the time variously as "Churchill's War," "The Great Russian Gamble," and "Whitehall’s Folly." A soldier's diary from this campaign refers to her as "SS Hungry Guts" (the Great War Forum) and another soldier who sailed out to Russia on her "accompanied by a cargo of mules" described Menominee as "a dirty old creaking one stacker."

The Menominee was reconditioned by Harland and Wolff after her war service and returned to the London to New York service as a freighter in 1920. Two years later she broke her rudder again the Montana stood by to tow her into Falmouth for repairs. In October 1922 she narrowly avoided a collision with the Red Star Liner Gothland as the two drifted in heavy seas and hurricane force winds and passed within 200 feet of each other. The following year under Captain Edward Finch she sent a lifeboat out in a heavy sea and rescued the six man crew of the schooner Gordon Fudge of St John's, Newfoundland, with great difficulty. The Menominee was eventually sold for scrap in 1926 and she was broken up in Italy.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; The Great War Forum; The New York Times, March 12, 1899; May 13, 1901; December 14, 1903; December 23, 1923

The Menominee in Red Star Line service, from a photo postcard published in Antwerp (Ian Newson)
The Menominee, apparently in the immediate post-war period, from a photo postcard published in Antwerp (Ian Newson)

The Menominee's promenade deck from an accommodation plan in an A.T.L. brochure
The Menominee's promenade deck from an accommodation plan in an Atlantic Transport Line brochure (Kinghorn)

The Menominee's saloon deck from an accommodation plan in an A.T.L. brochure
The Menominee's saloon deck from an accommodation plan in an Atlantic Transport Line brochure (Kinghorn)

Belgian color postcard depicting Menominee, Newson
A Belgian color postcard depicting Meomnee at sea. (Ian Newson)

Photo: passengers on boat deck (Ian Newson)
Passengers posing with Captain Lemuel Lucas and other officers on the boat deck of the Menominee, from James Grant Hutchison's album (Ian Newson)

A letter written on board the Alexandra by a British passenger in 1898 (Kinghorn)
A letter written on board the Alexandra by a British passenger in 1898 (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (10,097 KB)

The passenger list issued by the London office for the voyage of the Mesaba commencing November 30, 1901 (Kinghorn)
The passenger list issued by the London office for the voyage of the Menominee commencing November 30, 1901 (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (7,572 KB)

The program for the entertainment staged on September 5, 1908 (Ian Newson)
The program for the entertainment staged on September 5, 1908 (Ian Newson)
Click for PDF file (1,270 KB)

A generic Red Star Line postcard captioned for the Menominee (Kinghorn)
A generic Red Star Line postcard captioned for the Menominee (Kinghorn)

Photoof damaged rudder, 1903? (Ian Newson)Photo: Girls painting names on lifeboats. Great War era (Ian Newson)
Left: damage to Menominee's rudder being worked on in Antwerp — evidently damage from the 1903 gale (Ian Newson)
Right: these ladies appear to be painting the ship's name on Menominee's lifeboats, presumably during World War One (Ian Newson)

World War I photo of 6" gun -- on Menominee? (Ian Newson)
This image comes from a group of photographs relating to the Menominee pasted into an album compiled by James Grant Hutchison, an Atlantic Transport Line
officer for many years, but may depict a gun on another vessel? Hutchison served on Menominee during the war.

World War I photo on Menominee (Ian Newson)
James Grant Hutchison (Ian Newson's grandfather) on board HMT Menominee (Ian Newson)

Photo of lifeboat drill on HMT Menominee (Ian Newson)
The lifeboat drill image shows that a second row of boats had been added (Ian Newson)

Menominee at sea. Photo Ian Newson
A foredeck scene on the Menominee during the war (Ian Newson)

World War I photo on Menominee (Ian Newson)
A celebration of some sort on board the Menominee during the war (Ian Newson)

A humerous French postcard of c.1917 showing the Menominee as a transport (Kinghorn)
A French postcard of c.1917 showing the Menominee as a transport (Kinghorn)

World War I photo on Menominee (Ian Newson)
Officers on board the Menominee during the war (Ian Newson)

Menominee photographed in the harbor of Genoa (Ian Newson)
Menominee photographed in the harbor of Genoa (Ian Newson)

Photo: Snow on Menominee's fore deck, Boston Harbor, December 1926 (Ian Newson)
The Menominee taken in Boston Harbor, December 1926 (Ian Newson)

Photo: Menominee in Boston Harbor, December 1926 (Ian Newson)
The Menominee in Boston Harbor, December 1926 (Ian Newson)

 

For more information ...

Kinghorn "The Atlantic Transport Line 1881 - 1931" McFarland, 2011

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