Headline: The Atlantic Transort Line 

Home    |    History    |    Ships    |    Miscellanea    |    Search   

 

A detail from the postcard printed by the line for passenger's use on board the new Minne class ships; artwork by Charles Dixon (Kinghorn)

S.S. Minnewaska (IV)

Sister: Minnetonka (II)
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, yard number 613
Launched March 22, 1923; delivered August 25, 1923; maiden voyage September 1, 1923; broken up 1934
Hull: length 626'; beam 80' 4"; 21,716 tons; 5 continuous steel decks; 17,000 tons cargo capacity
Power: triple screws; 4 single reduction geared Brown Curtiss steam turbine engines of 15,000 h.p.
12 boilers, 60 burners for fuel oil; steam pressure 220 lbs.; 16 knots
Registered in Belfast; official number 145433

 

The Minnewaska (IV), whose name means "clear water," was the first of four super-Minne type ships planned for the post-war recovery of the Atlantic Transport Line's premiere London to New York passenger cargo business. Each of the new ships was to be named after its illustrious predecessor sunk during the war. In the event however, only two of the ships were actually built because post-war freight business and first class passenger traffic never reached, let alone surpassed, pre-war levels. The Minnewaska (IV) reportedly cost £1,175,000 to build.

The ships were ordered in 1919 but their construction was delayed. They were similar in length to the pre-war Minnes but they had a much broader beam which made them even more stable and increased their cargo capacity and passenger accommodation. They were the largest cargo vessels in the world when launched. As well as carrying more passengers the ships offered additional facilities for them including a lounge and a reception room the full width of the ship designed for dancing. Another improvement was the glazing of the fore portion of the promenade deck to provide a measure of shelter.

The U.S. Shipping Board did not authorize a resumption of the Atlantic Transport Line's London to New York service until the new Minnes were nearing completion. The Minnewaska (IV) sailed initially under Captain Thomas F. Gates, and commenced her maiden voyage on September 2, 1923. From 1924 her captain was Commander Frank H. Claret, O.B.E., R.N.R., who made 52 voyages in command of this ship. She is recorded in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals making 85 voyages to New York between September 1923 and December 1930.

The Minnewaska (IV) came to the rescue of some airmen in August 1928. The British pilot Captain Frank T. Courtney was attempting the first East-West crossing of the Atlantic (via the Azores) when the engine of his Dornier-Napier flying boat, "the Whale," caught fire and he was forced to ditch. She had a minor collision with the former White Star Line tender Traffic at Cherbourg in 1929, which resulted in some damage to the smaller vessel. And when the Minnewaska (IV) left London on December 7, 1929, she encountered "a gale and a very high sea" and could not take on her passengers at Boulogne. She anchored in the Downs near Dover before putting to sea and steaming about in the gale until she could enter Cherbourg on the Monday morning. Shortly before Minnewaska (IV) left New York on her next voyage the president of the line, P.A.S. Franklin, called Captain Claret to his office to present a sterling silver cigar box given by a group of businessmen who had endured the channel gale as a token of their appreciation and friendship.

The depression of 1931 ended any hope the International Mercantile Marine Company had of selling off its foreign-flagged lines and the Atlantic Transport Line was closed down. Alternative work was sought for Minnewaska (IV) and her sister, and it was reported in the New York Times that they were to be converted for the New Zeeland frozen meat trade and would be sailing out via the Cape of Good Hope and home via Cape Horn, a round trip of 30,000 miles! In the event the both Minnes were transferred to the Red Star Line's transatlantic tourist third service to enable a weekly sailing schedule to be maintained.

The Minnewaska (IV) was the last ship to sail under Atlantic Transport colors and started on the Antwerp to New York route on May 13, 1932 carrying 413 passengers. The fare was $98 one way or $172 for the round trip (half the former rate), and was marketed as "the most sensational travel value ever offered." Sadly the venture did not prove to be successful. The Minnewaska (IV) made just ten round trips for the Red Star Line before her service was terminated in September of the following year. It was announced in May 1934 that both of the Minnes would be laid up in Antwerp but both ships were sold in December 1934 to Douglas & Ramsey for scrap. The sale "was accepted yesterday in shipping circles as marking the end of the Atlantic Transport Line" according to the New York Times.

The post-war Minnes were scrapped after remarkably short careers. Vernon Finch published a double page spread featuring a poignant image (from The Times, February 14, 1935, p.16) showing the Minnewaska (IV) at the breakers. A ship's bell engraved "Minnewaska" is preserved at the Millbridge Care Home in Heacham, Norfolk — formerly "Loo Water," the unfortunately named country home of Atlantic Transport Line Managing Director Charles F. Torrey, and probably comes from this ship given that her namesakes were scrapped overseas.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; 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; A Century of Atlantic Travel: 1830-1930, Frank Charles Bowen, 1930; The Red Star Line and the International Mercantile Marine Company, Vernon E.W. Finch, Antwerp, 1988; Atlantic Transport Line brochure, dated May 2, 1923 (Kinghorn); Atlantic Transport Line brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn); The New York Times, August 14, 1922; December 22, 1931; April 6, 1932; May 5, 1932; May 22, 1932; May 27, 1934

The postcard printed by the line for passenger's use on board the new Minne class ships; artwork by Charles Dixon (Kinghorn)
The postcard printed by the line for passenger's use on board the new Minne class ships; artwork by Charles Dixon (Kinghorn)

Minnewaska (IV) A Deck: Upper Promenade Deck
A Deck: Upper Promenade Deck

Minnewaska (IV) B Deck: Lower Promenade Deck
B Deck: Lower Promenade Deck

Minnewaska (IV) C Deck
C Deck

Minnewaska (IV) D Deck
D Deck

The Minnewaska (IV) under construction at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast, from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)The Minnewaska (IV) under construction at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast, from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)
The Minnewaska (IV) under construction at the Harland & Wolff yard in Belfast, from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)

The launch of the Minnewaska (IV), from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)
The launch of the Minnewaska (IV), from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)

The Minnewaska (IV) arriving on the Thames for the first time (Ian Newson)
The Minnewaska (IV) arriving on the Thames for the first time (Kinghorn)

Minnewaska in the Thames
The Minnewaska (IV) about to enter the King George V Docks
for the first time, from a brochure of c.1924, (Kinghorn)

Minnewaska at sea during her maiden voyage (Ian Newson)
Minnewaska at sea during her maiden voyage (Ian Newson)

The Dining Room was large enough to accommodate all passengers at one sitting, most of them assigned to small and intimate tables.
The Dining Room was large enough to accommodate all passengers at one sitting, most of them assigned to small and intimate tables.
The largest table — the captain's table — occupied pride of place, but the surgeon, chief engineer, and purser also presided over
smaller tables nearbye. (Kinghorn)

A breakfast menu from December 13, 1930
A breakfast menu from December 13, 1930 (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (4,271 KB)

A dinner menu dated February 18, 1928
A dinner menu dated February 18, 1928 (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (2,921 KB)

Reception room, from a brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn collection)
The reception room had a parquet floor designed for dancing, a grand piano, and an organ. In addition the ship carried
an "orchestra" of professional musicians. Brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn). The reception room at the foot of the main staircase
filled the entire width of the ship. One corner housed a grand piano and the opposite corner an organ. (Kinghorn)

The ship's orchestra, from a brochure of c. 1924 (Kinghorn collection)
The parquet floor of this room was designed for dancing, and here the ship's orchestra of "experienced string musicians" played

The ship's lounge was located on the forward part of the upper promenade deck.
The ship's lounge was located on the forward part of the upper promenade deck. It was "finished in American sycamore,
paneled in a style of the mid-seventeenth century... There are numerous easy chairs and upholstered settees, and
a generous supply of card tables." (Kinghorn)

Dated May 2, 1923, this brochure promotes the reintroduction of the line's London to New York service (Kinghorn)
Dated May 2, 1923, this brochure promotes the reintroduction of the line's London to New York service (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (23,217 KB)

This brochure promotes the convenience of the new Minne class ships in London (Kinghorn)
This brochure promotes the convenience of the new Minne class ships in London (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (23,830 KB)

"Beauty and quiet are found in the ship's Reading Room.
"Beauty and quiet are found in the ship's Reading Room. This room, in the style of "the brothers Adam," was
sometimes identified as the Drawing Room, and was designed principally for use by female passengers (Kinghorn)

The exclusively male smoking-room was "a fine, dignified old English style apartment, with paneled cedar walls and walnut furniture, having coverings of dull blue leather - the kind of room in which one might logically look for the shades of Dr. Johnson and Goldsmith engaged in conversation over a pipe and bowl." (Kinghorn)
The exclusively male smoking-room occupied the traditional location at the after end of this deck and was "a fine, dignified old
English style apartment, with paneled cedar walls and walnut furniture, having coverings of dull blue leather — the kind of room
in which one might logically look for the shades of Dr. Johnson and Goldsmith engaged in conversation over a pipe and bowl." (Kinghorn)

Promenade deck, from a brochure of c. 1924 (Kinghorn collection)
The wide promenade deck was glazed in forward to provide some shelter. On these decks morning buillon and afternoon
tea were served, the orchestra played in summer, and dancing was "sometimes indulged in." (Kinghorn)

The wide promenade deck with steamer chairs set out. From a brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn)
The wide promenade deck with steamer chairs set out. From a brochure of c.1930 (Kinghorn)

The sitting room of a suite on the promenade deck (Kinghorn)
The sitting room of a suite on the promenade deck (Kinghorn)

The piece of furniture on the right in this, the same suite sitting room, looks like a desk-bookcase.  It opened up to reveal a washstand. From a brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn)
The piece of furniture on the right in this, the same suite sitting room, looks like a desk-bookcase.
It opened up to reveal a washstand. From a brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn)

More photographs of passenger accommodation on this ship, and her sister

Poster advertising the new First Class service (Swann Galleries)
Poster advertising the reintroduced first class service in 1924 -- the image was also
used on the covers of the passenger lists of the day (Swann Galleries)


Cover of a passenger list issued by the London office in 1926 (Ian Newson)

The passenger list issued by the New York 0ffice for the voyage commencing February 11, 1928 (Kinghorn)
The passenger list issued by the New York office for the voyage commencing February 11, 1928 (Kinghorn)
Click for PDF file (27,726 KB)

Postcard: The Minnewaska (IV) on the Thames in ballast (Ian Newson)
The Minnewaska (IV) on the Thames in ballast very early in her career (Kinghorn)

Photo postcard depicting the Minnewaska (IV) (Ian Newson)
Photo postcard depicting the Minnewaska (IV) at anchor (Ian Newson)

Postcard captioned "London's Largest liner — off Boulogne" (Kinghorn)
A color postcard captioned "London's Largest liner — off Boulogne" (Kinghorn)

The Charles Dixon painting used for postcards, from a brochure of c.1924
A painting of the Minnewaska (IV) passing Dover Castle by Charles Dixon, R.I., from a brochure of 1923 vintage (Kinghorn)

The Minnewaska (IV) steaming to the rescue of Captain Frank T. Courtney's downed seaplane "the Whale" in August 1928
The Minnewaska (IV) steaming to the rescue of Captain Frank T. Courtney's downed seaplane "the Whale" in August 1928,
portrait of Captain Claret inset above. Photo taken from the seaplane and published in a contemporary
Atlantic Transport Line brochure (Kinghorn)

Photo: Minnewaska leaving New York (Ian Newson) Minnewaska leaving New York
Left: Minnewaska leaving New York (Ian Newson). Right: Minnewaska leaving New York, from an Atlantic Transport Line brochure of c.1924 (Kinghorn)

Minnewaska leaving New York
Menu for the Dinner Au Revoir held on May 4, 1930 (Ian Newson)
Click for PDF file (734 KB)

ATL postcard captioned Minewaska and Minnetonka, 1932 (Kingorn collection)
For the postcards provided "gratis" to passengers the original Charles Dixon artwork was reworked to show the ships in
Red Star Line livery when they were transferred and was captioned for use on both sisters as a further measure of
economy. This example carries Captain Claret's autograph. (Kinghorn)

Program for a race meeting held on June 24, 1932 (Ian Newson)
Program for a race meeting held on June 24, 1932 (Ian Newson)
Click for PDF file (2,459 KB)

The Minnewaska (IV) in Red Star Line service and tied up in Antwerp. From a photo postcard of c.1932 (Ian Newson)
The Minnewaska (IV) in Red Star Line service and tied up in Antwerp. From a photo postcard of c.1932 (Ian Newson)

Red Star Line advertisement
Red Line newspaper advertisement featuring the Minnewaska (IV) and Minnetonka (II) (Ian Newson)

A newspaper printed on board the Minnewaska (IV) when in Red Star Line service (Kinghorn)
A newspaper printed on board the Minnewaska (IV) when in Red Star Line service (Kinghorn)

 

For more information ...

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

Home   |    History   |   Ships   |   Miscellanea   |   Search


© 2005 - 2014, Jonathan Kinghorn, all rights reserved

This Site and all its Contents are intended solely for non-commercial use. You may download or copy the Contents and other downloadable materials displayed on the Site for your personal use only. No right, title or interest in any downloaded materials or software is transferred to you as a result of any such downloading or copying. You may not reproduce (except as noted above), publish, transmit, distribute, display, modify, create derivative works from, sell or participate in any sale of or exploit in any way, in whole or in part, any of the Contents, the Site or any related software.