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S.S. Knoxville City


 
Gross Tonnage:5,686Net:3,450
Dimensions:424' 2" x 56' 2" x 26' 5"MC Type:
 
Builder:Chickasaw Shipbuilding & Car Co.
Chickasaw, AL
Hull #
USMC Hull #
Date of Build:
Delivered:
13

1921
Engines:2 Steam Turbines DR Geared to Single Screwed ShaftEngine Builder:W. & A. Fletcher Co.
Hoboken, NJ
Navigation:GyCDecks, etc.:2 Decks 3tr B, Fitted for Oil Fuel

Began Isthmian Service:1921Ended Isthmian Service:1942

----------------------------------- Vessel History -----------------------------------
Date
Vessel
#
Vessel
Name
Vessel
Owner
Call Ltrs
Home
Port
Flag
1921
221587
Knoxville CityU.S. Steel Products Co.
New York
MDCN
New YorkUS
1930
221587
Knoxville CityAugust: Isthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
MDCN
New YorkUS
1933
221587
Knoxville CityIsthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
KDUD
New YorkUS

Events:
"Through my father's contacts, Capt. Donnelly, the Marine Superintendent of Isthmian Lines, hired me as a Third Mate in the SS KNOXVILLE CITY on August 1, 1930. I say 'in' the SS KNOXVILLE CITY. People say 'on' ships but that's wrong. She was one of a type of good ships built about 1922 by U.S. Steel, owners of Isthmian Lines, at their yards in Anniston and Mobile, Alabama and in liner service from New York to India. They were over 400 feet long, about 8,000 tons, and made twelve knots. Hatch number five was in an uncovered well deck. Two large doors at the after end of hatch number four could be removed, which reduced the cubic capacity of the ship and the tolls paid in the Panama and Suez Canals. These ships were the first to have gyro compasses because of the effects of the steel cargoes on magnetic compasses. In some there was a separate room for the gyro. In others it was in the after end of the saloon, or officer's dining room. We were in liner service to India. I transferred to the SS FAIRFIELD CITY as Third Mate, then to the SS STEEL ENGINEER as Second Mate. Promotions were slow. Even after getting my Chief Mate's and Master's Licenses, I was still sailing as Second Mate in 1936." - Commodore Leroy J. Alexanderson (Commodore of U.S. Lines and Master of the SS United States)

Disposition DateComments
19426/1 - On a voyage New York to Suez, 7,585 tons general cargo, George P. Shanahan Master, the vessel departed in convoy, later leaving to sail alone to Trinidad for refueling. At 8:57 PM, position 21.15 N, 83.50 W, off Isle of Pines, Cuba, while steaming a 10 knot zigzag course, the ship was struck 20 ft below the waterline at the engine room on the starboard side by a torpedo fired by U-158 (Rostin). The explosion killed 2 men on watch, likely caused the boilers to explode and stopped the engines. The explosion destroyed the 2 starboard lifeboats and radio antenna. Using the emergency radio, distress signals were sent but no acknowledgement was received. In 5 minutes, the Master ordered the vessel abandoned. Most of the 9 officers, 28 crewmen, 14 armed guards and 4 passengers left the ship within 20 minutes in 2 lifeboats. At 10:00 PM U-158 put another torpedo into the vessel, causing her to sink 10 mins later. The Brazilian ship JAMACIA offered to take the survivors to New Orleans but they declined, fearing the submarine might still be nearby. 48 hours later, the survivors made landfall at La Calina, Cuba with the assistance of the Cuban gunboat DONATIVO.

The information on this web site is the kind contribution of our Historian, Skip Lewis, 2003. Skip, whose dad sailed for Isthmian, is an avid collector and researcher of everything Isthmian and States Marine. In his quest, he has used many sources and publications including Lloyd's of London and Imperial Steel by John Atherton.

If you have any questions about, or information for, this website, please contact us.

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