Isthmian Lines
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S.S. Steel Trader


 
Gross Tonnage:5,687Net:3,450
Dimensions:424' 2" x 56' 2" x 26' 5"MC Type:
 
Builder:Federal Shipbuilding Co.
Kearny, NJ
Hull #
USMC Hull #
Date of Build:
Delivered:
38

1920
Engines:2 Steam Turbines DR Geared to Single Screwed ShaftEngine Builder:W. & A. Fletcher Co.
Hoboken, NJ
Navigation:GyCDecks, etc.:2 Decks, Fitted for Oil Fuel

Began Isthmian Service:1920Ended Isthmian Service:1945

----------------------------------- Vessel History -----------------------------------
Date
Vessel
#
Vessel
Name
Vessel
Owner
Call Ltrs
Home
Port
Flag
1920
220180
Steel TraderU.S. Steel Products Co.
New York
LWRM
New YorkUS
1930
220180
Steel TraderJune: Isthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
LWRM
New YorkUS
1933
220180
Steel TraderIsthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
KUVL
New YorkUS
1945
 
Kuzma MininUSSR
 
 USSR
1945
220180
Steel TraderUS Maritime Commission
KUVL
New YorkUS

Events:
1924: On New Year's Day of 1924, Baltimore lovers of the steamboat "EMMA GILES" were electrified by inch-high headlines across the front page of the evening papers: "EMMA GILES Rammed by Freighter -- Freighter Rams EMMA GILES Off Sandy Point -- Collision Maroons 25 Passengers on Steamer All Night". A startling photograph of mangled timbers accompanied the headline.
Shortly after 8 PM on New Year's Eve, "EMMA GILES" and the 8,000 ton freighter "STEEL TRADER" collided off Sandy Point, only a few hundred yards from the site of the fateful end of NELLY WHITE many years before.
En route from the Little Choptank River, "EMMA GILES" ran into a heavy fog bank off Sandy Point. Sighting "STEEL TRADER" close aboard, Captain John T. Kirwan sounded two blasts on the whistle, indicating his intention of effecting a "starboard to starboard" passing. "STEEL TRADER", according to Captain Kirwan, answered with two blasts, this signifying confirmation of the starboard to starboard passing. Moments later, "STEEL TRADER" raked the starboard side of "EMMA GILES", destroying 250 square feet of her deckhouse planking, tearing apart the starboard paddlebox to the hub (the beehive and lily emblem survived), and jamming the paddle blades so the wheel could not turn.
"STEEL TRADER", owned by U.S. Steel Products and operated by Norton, Lilly and Co., was bound for the capes and Philadelphia when the accident occurred. Captain Kirwan quickly brought the "EMMA GILES" to anchor. Immediately after the collision, Captain Rylander of "STEEL TRADER" maneuvered his heavy ship as close to "EMMA GILES" as possible and sent men by boat to assist her. He was informed by Captain Kirwan that the steamer was in no immediate danger and that the 25 passengers on board, plus the 27 members of his crew, were calm despite the shock of collision.
The crew of the "EMMA GILES" and the men sent by "STEEL TRADER" passed a towline through the chocks at the bow of the steamer to the stern of the freighter. "EMMA GILES" weighed anchor, and "STEEL TRADER" began the tedious process of towing the boat to Baltimore. By wireless, Captain Rylander alerted the harbor master in Baltimore. At Fort Carroll, the tug "BRITANNIA" arrived and took "EMMA GILES" in tow for return to Pier 16, Light Street.
Damage to the superstructure of "EMMA GILES" was extensive. The planking from guard to hurricane deck had been peeled back, crushed, or torn off from just aft of the bow on the starboard side to the middle of the paddlebox. The forward sections of both cabins, main deck and saloon deck, were a mangled shambles on one side. Fortunately, no one was in these areas at the moment of impact. A toilet room had been ripped open and left exposed. (It was rumored that one gentlemen was surprised.) The sturdy hull stood firm, not a timber, not a rib, was started. Except for the paddlewheel, the machinery stood intact.
Repairs and an investigation began immediately. Depositions were taked from officers of "STEEL TRADER" in Philadelphia. Captain Kirwan and crew members of "EMMA GILES" appeared before Captains C.W. Wright and Michael Stanton, U.S. Steamboat Inspectors, in Baltimore. In the end, the weather was blamed for the mishap, and Captain Rylander was commended for his promptitude in rendering assistance to the stricken steamboat. Nevertheless, passengers from the Little Choptank on "EMMA GILES" had a New Year's Eve experience they would never forget.

"Steamboat on the Chesapeake, Emma Giles and the Tolchester Line", David C. Holly

"There were no unions when I started with Isthmian in 1929. Captains and Chief Engineers got one or two weeks vacation and could take their wives on coastwise trips. If they took vacations they missed their ships and had to wait without pay for another ship. No one else in the crew received paid vacation. By 1936, I was a member of MM&P. The maritime unions called a strike against all U.S. ships for higher wages. I was in San Pedro as Second Mate on the SS STEEL TRADER, got an apartment in Long Beach, and was picket Captain there. As a result of the strike, wages for Chief Mate went up to about $185 per month. Second Mate to $150 and Third Mate to $135. I calculated that it would take me seven years to recoup the wages I lost during the strike. ... In 1934 I became Second Mate on Isthmian Lines' SS STEEL TRADER. We loaded steel in U.S. East Coast ports for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle and returned two months later with timber, prefabricated doors and canned fruit. It was cheaper to ship Midwest steel by rail to the East Coast and then by ship to the West Coast than directly by rail to the West Coast. This trade ended for Isthmian when Kaiser build steel mills on the West Coast. The STEEL TRADER also carried steel from New York to Hawaii for cans and returned with sugar and pineapple. In this trade the perfect outbound freight combination was found - sheet steel for automobiles, using all the weight and cubic capacity of the ship. In Isthmian's India service the trip up the Hugeley River to Calcutta was a day's run in daylight. The Indian Pilot, wearing whites, came aboard with a servant boy carrying his trunk and suitcases. While we waited for the right stage of the tide, the boy provided whatever items the pilot needed. He even lit the pilot's cigarette before transferring it to the pilot's cigarette holder. On return trips from India we sometimes carried elephants, pythons and monkeys for Frank 'Bring 'Em Back Alive' Buck's circus. When asked about what I knew about carrying elephants, I replied, 'A lot more than when I started'. Each python was fed a goat before loading and digested it during the voyage. Because they were shipped 'In Care of Chief Mate' I had to regularly sprinkle water on them. Cages holding twenty five monkeys each were stowed on deck. I fed them every day. Once, in Port Said, Egypt, they escaped. Some jumped overboard, and others climbed the masts and rigging or swung on pipes in the engine room. We put on our own circus. A load of mongoose we carried to Hawaii was not permitted to land and was shipped back to India. In the British Royal Mail tradition ships flying the mail flag got preference as far as pilots and docking. We had about a hundred bags of low priority of U.S. Mail aboard approaching Port Said. I ran up our U.S. mail flag, and the ship was able to dock immediately. In my time at sea we had no electronic navigation equipment, like radio and radio direction finder. We did have gyrocompasses on the Isthmian ships from their beginning because cargoes of steel caused great inaccuracies in magnetic compasses. With no fathometer, we dropped a deep sea lead with a glass tube to determine the depth of the water by changes in pressure. ... During the Great Depression, the steady job of Assistant Pier Superintendent seemed attractive. When I was Second Mate on Isthmian Lines' SS STEEL TRADER, I discussed the possibility with the Pier Superintendent in Honolulu. He told me that, if I would marry his wife's sister, I had the job. I went to dinner with the Pier Superintendent family. After seeing the sister, I decided to stay at sea. One night, en route to the Panama Canal, I was standing watch with an AB who had joined the ship in Honolulu. I knew Morse Code well and heard a request to relay to a ship ahead the description of a fugitive thought to be aboard her. As he steered the ship, the compass illuminated my AB. In my opinion, he resembled the description of the fugitive, and I had the Radio Officer and Captain confirm it. We sent a message that he was aboard. U.S. Marshals met him in Balboa." - Capt. Edward F. Carter

Disposition DateComments
1947Q1 - Reported broken up by Lloyd's Casualty Report. Broken up at Jacksonville, FL.




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.

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