Headline: The Atlantic Transort Line 

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The Montana (II) coming to the aid of the Menominee in April 1923 (Ian Newson)

S.S. Montana (II)

Other name: Defender
Sister: Montauk
Builder: New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey, hull number 203
Launched 1919; delivered November 3, 1919; scrapped 1935, Italy
Hull: length 419' 6"; beam 56' 6"; 7,772 tons
Power: quadruple expansion engines by builder, with cylinders of 24", 36", 51", and 75" diameter, 51"; 577 n.h.p.
3 single-ended boilers, steam pressure 220 lbs.

 

When the United States entered World War One its shipyards were already choked with orders and the government stepped in to make shipbuilding much more efficient. One program enabled the U.S. government to take over all orders for which material had been acquired but no keel had yet been laid. These ships would be returned to their owners after the war if they were used in government service during it. The Montana (II) and the Montauk seem to have been built under this program and were handed over to the Atlantic Transport Line after the war. These ships were "known for their speed and for facilities for the transportation of livestock."

On November 3, 1920 Minnekahda (II) was transferred from British to U.S. registry and P. A. S. Franklin raised the American flag upon her for the first time. The captains of several International Mercantile Marine Company ships in New York harbor at the time were present for the ceremony, among them John F. Jensen of the Montana (II).

The Montana (II) was first engaged in the London New York service. Later she was "transferred to the intercoastal service, under charter to the American-Hawaiian and Dollar Lines," before being withdrawn from service in 1930. She and her sister were laid up at for years in Hoboken, where they became "a familiar if forlorn sight."

After the sale of Minnewaska (IV) and Minnetonka (II), the Montana (II) and her sister were the last remaining ships owned by the Atlantic Transport Line. Both were sold in April 1935 to the Italian firm of Cantieri Metallurgica della Venezia e Guilia for breaking. Soon afterwards they were "bought by the Italian Government for use in connection with its Ethiopian difficulties" and the agent who had acquired them as scrap sought permission to continue the ships in service. " It was not clear how the ships were to be used, but no doubt they were intended as transports. By May of 1935 they had sailed for Genoa.

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; The New York Times, April 27, 1935; August 9, 1935

Montana at sea (Ian Newson)
Images of the Montana (II) at sea from an album compiled by James Grant Hutchison, an Atlantic Transport Line officer for many years.
These pictures may have been taken from Menominee, on which Hutchinson served, when she broke her rudder in April 1922.
On that occasion the Montana (IV) stood by and then towed her to Falmouth. (Ian Newson)

Montana at sea (Ian Newson)
The Montana (II) at sea from an album compiled by James Grant Hutchison, an Atlantic Transport Line officer for many years (Ian Newson)

Montana dead in the water, her screw barely turning, and either about to
The Montana (II) at sea from an album compiled by James Grant Hutchison, an Atlantic Transport Line officer for many years (Ian Newson)

Montana at sea (Ian Newson)
The Montana (II) at sea from an album compiled by James Grant Hutchison, an Atlantic Transport Line officer for many years (Ian Newson)

 

For more information ...

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

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