Isthmian Lines
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S.S. Steel Designer

Gross Tonnage:7,928Net:4,674
Dimensions:492' 0" x 69' 7" x 29' 5"MC Type:C3-S-A2
Builder:Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.
Pascagoula, MS
Hull #
USMC Hull #
Date of Build:
Engines:2 Steam Turbines DR Geared to Single Screwed ShaftEngine Builder:General Electric Co.
Lynn, MA
Navigation:DF, ESD, GC, RDR, RTDecks, etc.:2 Decks & Open Shelter Deck

Began Isthmian Service:1947Ended Isthmian Service:1973

----------------------------------- Vessel History -----------------------------------
Call Ltrs
Sea HydraUS War Shipping Administration
New OrleansUSWB
Sea HydraUS Maritime Commission
New OrleansUS
Steel DesignerIsthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
New YorkUS

8/29/44: Keel laid.
2/22/45: Launched.
7/31/45: Delivered.
1946: U.S. Maritime Commission.
2/47: As SEA HYDRA, latent defect caused connection rod to break, consequently destroying generator; repair cost $2,305.
4/47: Latent defect caused boiler tube rupture. Renew 146 tubes, partially renew casings and brickwork at a cost of $20,053. Renew 288 generating tubes at a cost of $7,196.
7/5/48: Delayed at Hong Kong by leak in evaporator blowdown nipple on voyage Philadelphia to Bangkok.
11/48: Collision with barges causing damage to plates and floors; repair cost $3,385.
7/49: On periodic examination, shaft found cracked. Shaft renewed at a cost of $10,590.
1/52. Hit submerged object on voyage Baltimore to Far East; spare propeller fitted at Baltimore.
12/31/53: Heavy weather, voyage Persian Gulf for Philadelphia.
1/1 - 1/3/54: Heavy weather continued, bottom plate damage.
2/11/54: Touched bottom, voyage Baltimore for Far East, bilge keel damage.
6/25/54: From heavy weather 12/31/53 - 1/3/54, renew 3 bottom plates, 1 partially renew and 2 fair, internals partially renew, tanks steam, clean and test, together with sundry damages. From touching bottom 3/11/54, remove bilge keel, fair and replace, together with sundry damages. All repairs and drydocking at Baltimore.
10/2/54: Collided with MV RIMON.
10/54: Heavy weather damages stern.
2/16/55: From collision 10/2/54, surveyed, renew poop deck awning spars together with sundry damages; repairs at Baltimore.
4/26/55: From heavy weather 10/54, stern frame fracture vee out and weld, bottom plates in way partially renew, together with sundry damages; repairs at Baltimore.
8/24/55: Anchor fouled submerged obstruction.
2/27/56: From anchor fouling 8/24/55, windlass dismantle, drum shaft renew, gypsy bushings renew, bearings remachine, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs at Baltimore.
4/29/58: Isthmian floating crane H, stationed at Bandar Shapur, was involved in and accident with the STEEL DESIGNER, on voyage Houston for Persian Gulf. Lloyd's Register surveyor is being requested, but understood minor damages only.
4/30/58: From Khorramshahr,Isthmian floating crane NO. 4, not H as before reported, sustained damage at 10 AM local time on April 29. When lowering the empty crane derrick, the starboard winch broke and the port winch took charge, causing the derrick to fall across No. 4 hatch of steamer STEEL DESIGNER, damaging a locomotive on the starboard side. The crane derrick broke at the deck level of the vessel. Ship's personnel and local labor are removing the broken derrick. It is understood that there is apparently some structural damage to the vessel in way of No. 4 hold. The damaged crane cannot be repaired locally. Lloyd's Register surveyor and American Bureau of Shipping surveyors have been called in.
5/5/58: Cable from Gray, Mackenzie & Co., Ltd., Bandar Mashur; surveyor being appointed for damage to STEEL DESIGNER, which apparently at moment superficial. On floating crane at Bandar Shapur, surveyor's findings are as follows: On crane sheerleg port side internal stiffeners, comprising side angle struts, stiffeners and diagonal tiebars, twisted, warped and badly buckled at approximately 11 ft. from base and at varying degrees throughout full length. Starboard sheerleg likewise. Both sheerlegs, approximate weight 75 tons, lying athwart steamer STEEL DESIGNER in way of No. 4 hatch. Supporting shoring legs, port and starboard sides, bent, warped and twisted throughout entire length. Course proposed dependent on crane manufacturer's representative who, arriving from Holland today, to give recommendations on repair. Preliminary intention, on removal of sheerlegs to barge alongside, for repairs to be effected at Basrah. Report of damage to locomotive following when sheerlegs removed, as same lying beneath sheerlegs.
5/7/58: Cable from Gray, Mackenzie & Co., Ltd., Bandar Mashur; Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, damage by crane barge: Surveyor's hull damage findings as follows: Starboard side weather deck No. 4 hatch coaming set out over full length for maximum of 1 1/2 in., deck indent of 5 in. circumference in way of hatch. Port side gunwale bar 10 ft. aft of cabin distorted over a distance of 4 in. No. 4 upper 'tween deck starboard side deckhead plating and deckhead beams between web beams on fore and aft ends set down varying amounts from 1 1/2 in. to 3 in., ship's side frames from foreward Nos. 7, 8, 9 and 11 to No. 19 distorted from B deckhead. Beam knees from ship's side frames to deckhead beams from No. 17 to 19 showing stress at welded point. Cause of damage collapse of crane barge sheerlegs athwart weather deck and No. 4 weather deck hatch. Course recommended vessel proceeds on voyage and full survey be carried out at available port on complete discharge of cargo in No. 4 hold. On the floating crane: Damaged crane sheerlegs now cut and removed from deck of STEEL DESIGNER and stowed on crane barge for intended dispatch to Basrah slipway for repair. Surveyor's findings, without prejudice, of damage to locomotive as follows: Extensive damage to driver's operating cab at end of locomotive and consequent damage to mechanical and electrical equipment inside cab also possibility, undercarriage out of alignment due to heavy fall of sheerlegs on locomotive. Cause of damage collapse of crane sheerlegs athwart No. 4 hatch striking cab end of locomotive. Recommend dispatch locomotive to United States for repair. Consignee not prepared to accept for repair as not possible repairs effective in Iran.
6/17/58: Sailed from Basrah. Surveyor appointed, but, as cargo from No. 4 hold not discharged, survey incomplete. Cargo is to be discharged ex No. 4 hold at Bombay after vessel's arrival, approximately 6/27/58.
6/27/58: Arrived Bombay.
7/18/58: No. 4 lower hold and lower 'tween deck refrigerated chambers examined by register surveyor. No further damage found than already reported. No insulation removed as refrigerated cargo reported unaffected. Effecting no repairs at Bombay.
5/9/59: From Massowah, STEEL DESIGNER's main circulating pump surveyed. The pump had been dismantled and a new impeller on a shaft with double ball bearing races at both ends was fitted satisfactorily under supervision of surveyor.
5/10/59: STEEL DESIGNER, voyage Houston for Basrah, left Massowah.
10/14/60: From Khorramshar, a fire broke out in a Customs open storage yard at 2:30 PM damaging an extensive amount of general cargo. The cargo was for 8 vessels, one of which was the steamer STEEL DESIGNER.
7/2/61: From Djibouti, the STEEL DESIGNER was surveyed. It was stated that when the vessel was berthing on No. 2 pier with the assistance of two tugs on 7/2/61, the propeller touched the quay. It was found that three blades were bent and slightly damaged at the tips. Inspection by diver revealed no other damage and it was recommeded that the vessel should proceed on her voyage, subject to further survey being held by American Bureau of Shipping surveyor at Port Said.
7/7/61: STEEL DESIGNER, Semarang for Baltimore left Port Said.
8/15/61: Damaged in consequence of striking the approach wall in the Welland Ship Canal at Port Colborne while on passage from Detroit to Montreal.
3/3/64: From damage alleged sustained 8/15/61 in consequence of striking the approach wall in the Welland Ship Canal: Three side shell plates partially renew and two fair, frames and brackets straighten and partially renew, together with sundry damages and extensive removals. Repairs completed at New Orleans.
7/16 - 23/64: Collided with steel barges during cargo operations at Bandar Abbas.
12/31/64: From Baltimore: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, Basrah for New Orleans, which sailed today for Galveston, was in collision in evening with coal barge BETHCOAL NO. 1, which was cut in two and sank in the Craighill Channel. STEEL DESIGNER sustained bow damage and returned and proceeded to Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. for repairs; vessel under survey. The barge, which was under tow by the tug VIRGINIA, sank and is in about 30 ft. of water near the Belvedere Shoal.
1/4/65: From Baltimore: The STEEL DESIGNER was holed in her port bow at the waterline. Repairs, which will require about three to four days, are being effected at the Maryland Shipbuilding & Drydock Company yard.
1/8/65: STEEL DESIGNER left Baltimore for Galveston.
1/11/65: From New York: From collision at Baltimore 12/31/64, STEEL DESIGNER surveyed without prejudice: Ten shell plates renew, three partially renew and two fair, internals straighten and partially renew, tanks steam, clean and test, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs completed at Baltimore.
3/28/65: From New York: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, Houston for Bombay, at Shed 3, Erie Basin, had flash-fire in No. 4 hold, containing sulphur, in morning; Fire Department on scene, hatches closed, fighting fire with carbon dioxide. (Later) Fire under control.
3/29/65: City Fire Department continues surveillance and anticipates opening hatch at 8 AM 3/30/65.
3/30/65: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, moored at Shed 3, Erie Basin: Coast Guard investigator on scene at 10:25 AM and reports no evidence of fire. Hold being ventilated to restore oxygen and cargo will be removed when ventilation complete. No further Coast Guard action required.
4/1/65: STEEL DESIGNER left New York for Bombay.
4/13/65: From New York: From damage alleged sustained 7/16 - 23/64 in consequence of collisions with steel barges during cargo operations at Bandar Abbas: Two shell plates renew, four partially renew, one partially release and fair and one fair, internals examine and deal with, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs deferred. From damage alleged sustained 12/31/64 in consequence of collision with coal barge BETHCOAL NO. 1, in tow of tug VIRGINIA, in Chesapeake Bay and subsequently touching bottom: Ten shell plates renew, three partially renew and two fair, internals straighten and partially renew, tanks steam, clean and test, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs completed.
5/21/65: Struck buoy at Bandar Shapur.
9/15/65: From Yokohama: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, Houston for Okinawa, grounded about 10 PM between Nos. 1 and 2 Forts.
9/16/65: Owners arranged salvage tug DAISHO MARU NO. 1 on daily hire basis, which proceeding to location for first refloating effort at high water tonight.
9/17/65: Tug DAISHO MARU NO. 1 failed refloat last night. Nippon Salvage K.K. engaged on Open Form and urgent securing of vessel with ground tackle commenced this morning view approach of Typhoon No. 24, "Trix". Vessel short of draught four feet throughout length and aground fine sand without list.
9/23/65: From Yokohama: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER refloated at 9:45 PM (J.S.T.).
9/24/65: STEEL DESIGNER now moored Nos. 35 and 36 Buoys, Yokohama, and diver's examination of bottom under way. Reported no leakage.
9/25/65: According to diver's inspection, slight set-up observed. American Bureau of Shipping granted seaworthiness. Now discharged cargo reloading.
9/28/65: STEEL DESIGNER left Yokohama for Pusan.
11/17/65: From San Francisco: From stranding 9/15/65: Plate A 16 set up full length, renew, flat keel set up adjacent to A 16 between frames 32 and 33, fair in place, plate C 18 set up adjacent to A 16 between frames 30 and 32, fair in place. Necessary opening of low pressure turbine, sea valves and sea chests for examination, etc. Propeller fairwater missing. Repairs to shell plate and flat keel damage deferred.
9/19/66: From New York: From damage alleged sustained between 7/16 and 7/23/64, in consequence of collision with steel barges during cargo operations at Bandar Abbas: Six port side shell plates partially renew and two fair, internals straighten and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs completed. From damage alleged sustained 5/21/65, in consequence of striking buoy at Bandar Shapur: Propeller remove (previously repaired), tailshaft draw for examination, remove and replace with owner's spare tailshaft, tailshaft repair, together with sundry damages and removals.
10/26/66: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, Baltimore for Saigon, heavily laden with cargo and machinery, while at anchor within Manila quarantine anchorage was contacted between 6 and 7 AM, at right angles by steamer BROOKVILLE on starboard side near No. 3 hatch causing large hole from main deck to waterline. STEEL DESIGNER taking in water rapidly and in critical condition; bow of BROOKVILLE also considerably damaged.
10/29/66: Surveyor reports vessel at anchor when struck by steamer BROOKVILLE abreast No. 2 hatch starboard side; after incident draught forward 37 ft., aft 26 ft. Deck stringer plate ruptured 7 ft. into deck, 6 ft. wide, shell plating sheerstrake second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth below sheer bady holed and 'tween deck plating and deep tank plating holed and buckled. Full extent of damage cannot be ascertained on account of flooding and underwater. Repair crew fitted temporary wood patch over opening and level of water reduced from 28 ft. above tank top to 17 ft. in deep tanks. Draught on 10/29/66 32 ft. forward, 25 ft. aft. Presently discharging general cargo this hatch to lighters. Estimated shell plate partial renewals on seven plates, weather and 'tween deck plates partial renewal four plates, tank top partial plate, also renewal of four frames plus brackets. View unlikely dry dock available at Manila, temporary repairs, consisting of internal steel box, to be completed at Manila to enable vessel to proceed Hong Kong at reduced speed, subject to weather conditions, for drydocking and permanent repairs. BROOKVILLE still in port undergoing temporary repairs, pending ship's return to U.S. port.
10/31/66: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER surveyed afloat at Manila, with affected hold and deep tank pumped out. Thirteen shell plates adjoining each other over seven adjacent strakes vertically cut through, including two upper deck, two 'tween deck and two deep tank top plates, with five frames and associated beams with knees. Estimated 25 tons of steel for permanent repairs. Ship fully loaded with cargo for Saigon. Owners propose drydocking for permanent repairs at Manila or, more probably, Hong Kong, where dock available about 11/17/66. Temporary repairs necessary for passage requiring doubling plates fit to upper shell and deck stringer reinforced with channel girders at shell and three deck levels, with internal steel box suitably stiffened to shell to contain vertical cut. Recommeded partial discharge of cargo prior to drydocking. Ship to proceed in good weather conditions under own power. Owners have commenced temporary repairs at Manila, also confirming drydock position on 11/2/66 at Manila, which now on holiday.
11/16/66: STEEL DESIGNER left Manila for Saigon.
11/17/67: The following report has been received from San Francisco: Steamer STEEL DESIGNER, assured States Marine Corp., bottom damage: Surveyor attending at Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Co., Seattle. From Vancouver: Two bottom shell plates in way of No. 3 starboard oil fuel double bottom tank and No. 4 starboard fresh-water tank, B 6 and C 11, deeply grooved transversely and reduced in thickness, to be renewed, necessary tank cleaning, dry docking, etc. Repairs completed. Owners declined to make any allegation at this time.
3/25/68: From Los Angeles: Turbo-electric tanker ATLANTIC TRADER and Steamer STEEL DESIGNER collided outside Los Angeles harbor; returning to port. Vessels collided three miles off Point Fermin. The STEEL DESIGNER had just left Long Beach for San Francisco. One vessel reported she was shipping water and had one injured crewman, the Coast Guard reported. The ATLANTIC TRADER was heading for Long Beach from Portland, OR and was due to return to that port. ATLANTIC TRADER, loaded with diesel oil and petrol, was taken under tow by a commercial tug. She reported she had sustained heavy damage to two bulkheads and lost some fuel. STEEL DESIGNER sustained bow damage but was able to return to Long Beach harbor under her own power. The ATLANTIC TRADER was brought into the Union Oil Company's facility in L.A. harbor escorted by two L.A. City Fire Dept. boats and a helicopter.
4/14/68: STEEL DESIGNER left Los Angeles for Guam.
6/21/69: Generator damage sustained at Seattle.
9/3/69: From San Francisco: From damage alleged sustained 6/21/69 at Seattle: Aft inboard turbo-generator turbine to open, rotor to remove to repair shop for further survey and repair, miscellaneous packings and thrust bearing pads to renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs in progress.
6/23/72: At 19:28, propeller and rudder post struck by submerged floating log while transiting Chesapeake Bay en route to Philadelphia.
1/24/73: Surveyed in dry dock at Terminal Island, CA in response to damage allegedly sustained at approximately 19:28 6/23/72 in consequence of propeller and rudder post being struck by submerged floating log while transiting Chesapeake Bay en route Philadelphia; repairs in progress.
7/8/72: Information received states: STEEL DESIGNER, New York for Saigon, Fire #1 Hold, ETA Panama Canal 7 AM Sunday 7/9.
7/10/72: From Cristobal, STEEL DESIGNER, New York for Yokohama with general cargo, Fire in #1 Hatch presently believed under control; Surveyor attending.
7/16/72: Vessel sailed.
7/17/72: Surveyor reports cause of fire in #1 Hold apparently spontaneous combustion of sodium hydrosulfite in drums which apparently ruptured during loading. Scorching and smoke damage to paint but no structural damage to vessel. Fire extinguished with carbon dioxide.
8/10/72: At Yokohama, New York for Saigon, reports 2 generators damaged.
8/14/72: Left Yokohama for Saigon.
2/26/73: Repairs in drydock completed. Decision still pending regarding repair/renewal of tailshaft.

Disposition DateComments
1973Sold to I. Shing Steel & Iron Works Co., Ltd. and delivered at Suao 5/4/73. Scrapped 5/73 Suao, Taiwan. Reported 6/73: Sold to the Republic of China (Taiwan) for Scrapping.

Photo courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth 2004 - All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth 2004 - All rights reserved.

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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