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A sketch of Maine from Frank Bowen's 1938 book, "London Ship Types"

S.S. Maine (IV)

Other Names: War Riddle, Skala
Builder: Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast, yard number 565
Launched November 27, 1919; delivered March 4, 1920; broken up 1955
Hull: length 413'; beam 55' 8"; 6,600 tons
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine by builder with cylinders of 27", 44", and 73" diameter and a stroke of 48";
steam pressure 180 p.s.i.; 517 n.h.p.; coal consumption 45 tons per day
Registered in Belfast; official number 142495


From 1917 standardized designs for transports were introduced to help offset the crippling losses from German submarine warfare, and orders were placed in huge numbers at yards both sides of the Atlantic. A total of 821 were ordered from British yards alone. At the end of the war orders not commenced were cancelled, but vast numbers of ships under construction or in service became available to civilian owners. The Atlantic Transport Line two British-built steamers in this way (the other being the Mesaba II).

Built as the War Riddle, a wartime standard N type, this was the first ship built in Harland & Wolff's new yard in Belfast's Musgave Channel. Her completion was delayed by a strike and she was not delivered until March 1920. She had been purchased from the Shipping Controller in London before completion and was immediately renamed. She never sailed as the War Riddle. This was a box shaped ship designed for easy construction and she had a minimum of rolled plates. A notable feature of her appearance was her squared off shape and "V" shaped stern described by Frank C. Bowen in 1938 as "a very ugly triangle." Her cargo apparatus was excellent, and she had facilities for carrying cattle. The Maine (IV) managed to loose her rudder during her maiden voyage (to Hampton Roads) and was towed back to Belfast for repairs by the Carrigan Head, which was awarded £10,000 for the salvage.

The Maine (IV) sailed regularly from either London or Antwerp to New York until she was laid up at Southend in 1927. She was briefly recommissioned and went back into service until May 1931 when she returned to Southend. She was sold to Arthur Stott & Co. of Newcastle for £8,000 who shortly sold her for £12,000 to Russian owners who renamed her Skala. Her subsequent career is very obscure. Haws notes that she was broken up in 1955, and she was finally deleted from Lloyd's Register in 1978.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; www.merchantnavyofficers.com; 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; London Ship Types, Frank C. Bowen, London, 1938

A sketch of Maine from Frank Bowen's 1938 book, "London Ship Types"
A sketch of Maine (IV) by Pelham Jones from Frank Bowen's 1938 book, "London Ship Types"

Maine towards the end of her career, sailing under the Russian flag as Skala (Stuart Smith)
The Maine (IV) towards the end of her career, sailing under the Russian flag as Skala (Stuart Smith)


For more information ...

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

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