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S.S. Steel King

Gross Tonnage:8,147Net:4,762
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
APA 104
USS WestmorelandUS Navy, as Combat Loaded Transport
USS WestmorelandUS Maritime Commission
Steel KingIsthmian Lines, Inc.
New York
New YorkUS

12/8/43: Keel laid.
4/28/44: Launched, sponsored by Mrs. V. H. Hoagland.
7/12/44: Placed in commission for ferrying purposes. Shifted to Todd Shipyards, Hoboken, NJ, for conversion to an Attack Transport.
7/22/44: Decommissioned for the duration of the yard period.
1/18/45: Commissioned, Capt. James M. Hicks in command.
6/5/46: Decommissioned at Norfolk.
6/19/46: Struck from U.S. Navy list.
1946: U.S. Maritime Commission
1946: Conversion contract awarded to Waterman Steamship Co. Shipyard, Mobile, AL, at a cost of $527,355.
7/47: Acquired by Isthmian SS Co.
10/6/47: Wire fouled propeller; renew shaft at a cost of $14,800.
1/48: On voyage Saigon to New Orleans, heavy weather damaged deck fittings; repair cost $3,705.
12/4/48: On voyage Batavia to New York, slight damage from boiler room fire.
7/48: Aground, damaging plates, bilge keel, keelson, intercostals, floors and tanktops; repair cost $20,612.
10/48: Hit dock causing plate damage; repair cost $5,179.
1/50: Aground; repair propeller and remachine shaft liner at a cost of $6,844.
6/30/50: Labor trouble at Bombay delayed sailing of vessel. Isthmian stated as a result of stoppage, the vessle will sail from Calcutta for the U.S. on 7/24/50, 9 days behind schedule.
10/9/50: Hit submerged object. Renew propeller and shaft at a cost of $18,550 at Galveston.
1/29/52: Collision with lighter #137; renew upper rudder stock and palm bolts, repair rudder and propeller at New York.
4/3/52: Collision with barge damaging plates.
12/18/52: Boiler tube burst due to latent defect.
3/17/53: From striking dock on 1/20/51, 1 plate renew and 1 fair, moderate internals, together with sundry damages and removals. From striking pier on 10/5/51, 1 plate renew and 2 fair, 12 frames fair, together with sundry damages and removals. From collision with barge on 4/3/52: 1 plate partially renew, 3 plates fair, moderate internals together with sundry damages. All repairs at Baltimore.
4/14/53: From boiler tube bursting on 12/18/52, renew 147 tubes, partially renew casings, insulations and brickwork, together with sundry damages; repairs at Baltimore.
8/30/54: Hit submerged object.
9/3/54: Hit dock.
9/5/54: Barge hit propeller, causing shell plate and frame damage. Install spare propeller and renew shaft.
4/13/55: From striking pier 9/3/54, 1 shell plate partially renew, frames fair, together with sundry damages and removals. From striking submerged object 8/30/54 and barge striking propeller 9/5/54, recondition and rebalance damaged propeller, install spare propeller, renew and install tailshaft, rewood stren bearings, renew 10 coupling bolts, together with sundry damages. All repairs at Baltimore.
4/20/55: Grounding.
7/9/55: On voyage Singapore and New York to Baltimore, in dense fog, at 2320 hit Overfalls Light vessel at the mouth of Delaware Bay, slightly damaging both vessels. STEEL KING proceeded for Baltimore. From collision, partially renew 1 shell plate and 1 fairwater, straighten and partially renew frames; repairs at Galveston.
7/10/55: Vessel arrived Baltimore.
7/12/55: Vessel departed for Houston.
12/19/55: From grounding 4/20/55, straighten port bilge keel and partially renew, together with sundry damages; drydocking.
10/2/55: Hit bridge; repair propeller, install spare propeller and draw tailshaft for examination together with sundry damages; drydocking and repairs at Galveston.
7/56: Heavy weather, voyage Calcutta for Gulf ports.
9/4/56: From heavy weather 7/56, 8 hatch corner doublers renew, rails, stanchions and girders renew and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs at Galveston.
11/7/56: Grounding at National Sugar pier in New York.
1/10/58: From grounding at New York pier 11/7/57, 2 bottom shell plates renew and 4 partially renew, floors and intercostals straighten and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals.
1/13/58: Damage alleged sustained in consequence of an unknown object passing through the main high pressure turbine while at sea, Calcutta for Houston.
3/14/58: From turbine damage 1/13/58, high pressure turbine rotor 5 rows of blading renew, stationary blading repair, carbon packing, interstage packing and labyrinth packing renew, flexible coupling renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs at Brooklyn, NY. Surveyor remarks that, apart from damage as found and noted in log book of a sudden severe vibration being experienced 1/13/58, no evidence was found as to the nature of the foreign object.
7/25/58: From grounding at pier on 11/7/56, 2 shell plates renew, 4 partially renew and 1 fair, floors, frames, brackets and tank top plating straighten and partially renew, tanks steam, clean and test, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs completed at Galveston.
3/25/61: From Calcutta, about 7 PM the steamer ORIENT MERCHANT broke her moorings and went adrift and, as a result was in collision with steamer STEEL KING, which was lying at No. 4, King George's Dock.
3/27/61: STEEL KING left Calcutta for Houston.
12/9/62: STEEL KING damaged three propeller blades leaving Honolulu for Kahului and Baltimore; surveyor attending.
12/13/62: Surveyor reports all four propeller blade tips damaged as a result of striking submerged object in Honolulu harbor 12/9/62. Four blades dressed. Permanent repairs scheduled on arrival U.S. East Coast.
12/16/62: STEEL KING left Honolulu for Panama Canal Zone.
2/11/63: Steamer STEEL KING, Honolulu for Baltimore, collided at 8:06 PM in thick fog off Paulsboro, NJ with turbo-electric tanker ATLANTIC TRADER, from Philadelphia bound for Revere, MA. STEEL KING with 40 ft. gash, 5 ft. above waterline, in Nos. 1 and 2 holds, on port side continued for Baltimore. ATLANTIC TRADER anchored Mantua Creek anchorage with stern damage estimated at $15,000. No casualties reported by the Coast Guard and neither vessel was in danger.
2/12/63: STEEL KING arrived Baltimore
2/13/63: Tanker ATLANTIC TRADER proceded for Piney Point.
2/14/63: In consequence of collision 2/11/63, repair contract awarded to Bethelem Steel's Key Highway shipyard and expected to commence on 2/14/63 with an anticipated date of completion of 2/26/63.
3/4/63: From damage alleged sustained in December in consequence of striking a submerged object when departing from Honolulu: Propeller recondition, tailshaft draw for examination, spare propeller install, together with sundry damages and removals. From damage alleged sustained in consequence of collision with tanker ATLANTIC TRADER in the Delaware River while en route from Philadelphia to Baltimore: Seven shell plates renew and four partially renew, adjacent plates fair, 'tween deck plating, bulkheads, frames, brackets and beams straighten and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs effected at Baltimore.
6/5/63: Struck submerged object on voyage from Baltimore and Balboa for Honolulu.
6/12/63: From Honolulu, STEEL KING, Baltimore and Balboa for Honolulu, reported steaming slowly on account of bent propeller, caused by striking submerged object; estimated of arrival June 21.
6/21/63: STEEL KING arrived Honolulu.
7/1/63: From Honolulu, surveyor reports all five propeller blade tips damaged. Temporary repairs effected by cutting approximately 14" off all five propeller blade tips. Permanent repairs deferred to next drydocking. Vessel's logbook confirms striking a submerged object on 6/5/63.
10/7/63:From damage alleged sustained 6/5/63 in consequence of striking a submerged object while en route from New Orleans to Cristobal: Propeller recondition, tailshaft draw for examination, spare propeller install, stern bushings rewood, main engine high pressure thrust pad renew, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs completed at Baltimore.
12/16/63: Damage to main propulsion turbines and gearing while on passage from Newark, NJ to Brooklyn, NY in consequence of alleged crew negligence.
2/26/64: From damage alleged sustained 12/16/64 due to alleged crew negligence: Remove low pressure turbine, remachine and replace, high pressure turbine bearings and gearing bearings examine, together with sundry damages and removals. Repairs completed at Brooklyn.
1/15/68: Steamer STEEL KING, Seattle for Qui Nhon, arrived Honolulu at 11 PM. Surveyor reports five pontoon hatches No. 1 heavily set down as a result of heavy weather. Repairs in hand by renewing pontoons. Negligble damage to cargo but subject to further examination.
1/19/68: STEEL KING left Honolulu for the Far East.
7/25/68: Steamer STEEL KING, New York for Saigon, in collision with cement barge in Manila harbor. Vessel collided with Luzon Stevedoring Corp. barge in Manila North Harbor. STEEL KING sustained indentations and owner's agents requesting Salvage Association attendance.
7/30/68: From Manila: Surveyor reports, alleged due to contact with barge L-1967 while manoeuvering inside breakwater on 7/25/68, vessel sustained at 35 ft. draught mark set-in and fractured stem plating about 2 ft. in diameter by 6 in. deep and at 32 ft. draught mark set in about 2 ft. in diameter by 6 in. deep, breasthook plate in way of upper dent buckled. Recommeded to crop and partially renew stem plating over area of about 24 sq. ft. Port and starboard shell plating sixth and seventh plates from bulwark adjacent to dents slightly buckled to fair up and reweld. Owners proposed temporary repairs, permanent repairs at next dry docking.
7/29/68: STEEL KING left Manila for Vietnam.
8/29/68: The following message has been received from New York: Steamer STEEL KING, inbound for San Francisco from the Far East, in ballast, had boiler and machinery breakdown today 970 miles off San Francisco. Tug SEA RANGER engaged.
9/3/68: Tug SEA RANGER left San Francisco to tow in steamer STEEL KING.
9/10/68: Steamer STEEL KING arrived San Francisco in tow of tug SEA RANGER.
9/26/68: From San Francisco: Steamer STEEL KING, boiler and machinery breakdown 8/29/68, vessel towed to San Francisco, where arrived 9/10; owners alleging damage resultant on crew negligence: Port and starboard boilers open up and chemically clean, all boiler mountings, throttle valves and reducing valves open up and clean, various boiler tubes and superheater elements renew, three generators open up and clean, one generator turbine rotor renew, main engine turbines open up and clean, steam cycle wash out, emergency diesel generator completely overhaul and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs presently in progress.
10/8/68: Steamer STEEL KING left San Francisco for Vietnam.
10/16/68: Following extensive repairs to boilers and machinery effected at San Francisco, vessel now putting in to Honolulu with boiler trouble, resultant on further salting of boiler feed system.
10/18/68: Steamer STEEL KING arrived at Honolulu at 12:01 AM. Repairs being effected to main condenser and starboard double bottom tank top plating. Both boilers tested and two superheater elements and one economiser tube plugged. Consider all repairs of maintenance nature.
10/23/68: Repairs completed and vessel sailed at 10 AM.
4/17/69: STEEL KING arrived Inchon.
4/20/69: Lloyd's Register number 533961: Fire in No. 1 hold at Inchon commenced noon.
4/21/69: Fire extinguished 6 AM: Military Sea Transportation Service cargo of paints and paper.
4/22/69: A report from Seoul dated 4/21/69 states: Firefighters have extinguished a fire on board steamer STEEL KING, anchored off Inchon, American military officials said on Monday, April 21. The STEEL KING was reported ablaze on Sunday 1 1/2 miles off Inchon and U.S. military authorities sent out one fire-fighting boat and three tugs to put out the fire. The blaze reportedly started around noon on Sunday when alleged careless handling of welding equipment set fire to the cargo. The vessel arrived from San Francisco on 4/17 with 6,000 tons of cargo on board. She had unloaded 3,000 tons of the cargo when the fire started. The remaining 3,000 tons was destined for South Vietnam, according to a local news report.
4/25/69: Steamer STEEL KING fire-damaged in way of No. 1 hold but able to proceed to Hong Kong "as is", where damaged cargo will be discharged and further inspection and repair of hull.
4/28/69: From Pusan: STEEL KING proceeding Shimonoseki, estimated date of arrival 4/30/69, for discharging damaged cargo and repairs.
4/30/69: STEEL KING arrived Shimonoseki.
5/1/69: From Moji: STEEL KING fire in No. 1 hold at 12:12 PM during discharge at Inchon, fire extinguished the next day; damage temporarily repaired at Inchon for seaworthiness certificate to Japan: Damage extended on port and starboard sides shell plating from stem to nearly after end of No. 1 upper and lower 'tween decks over four strakes, involving 16 plates each side, upper deck distorted No. 1 hatch after coaming to stem, No. 1 upper 'tween deck distorted aft end to fore end, lower 'tween deck unknown due to cargo, port side 14 frames and side girder fractured at welds, forecastle deck distorted after end to hawsepipes, store spaces and other compartments in forecastle charred, plating distorted and stores burnt, windlass and four winches contaminated with salt, contractor board and resistor for windlass burnt and all cables in forecastle and No. 1 'tween decks burnt; cargo which burnt and affected at No. 1 hatch will be discharged for further examination and temporary repairs. Vessel will proceed to South Vietnam for discharge, and repairs to pillars and beams and partial permanent repairs for electrical and carbon dioxide systems and windlass will be effected here.
5/6/69: From Moji: Steamer STEEL KING: No. 2 upper 'tween deck, lower bulkhead, part of No. 1 lower 'tween deck, collision bulkhead and forecastle store decks found distorted. U.S. Coast Guard recommended permanent repairs at Shimonoseki, which required discharging cargo of No. 2 and after hatches for trimming.
5/8/69: STEEL KING to be towed on 5/10/69 to Nagasaki for repairs due to no deep water berth available at Shimonoseki. Nos. 1 and 2 hatches discharged here but other holds not necessary. Damage due to extinguishing fire: Recommended recondition contaminated electric motors of windlass, winches and pumps and clean contaminated forepeak tank, pipe tunnel and Nos. 1 and 2 holds.
5/9/69: Steamer STEEL KING left Shiminoseki for Nagasaki.
5/10/69: Steamer STEEL KING arrived Nagasaki.
6/23/69: With repairs completed, steamer STEEL KING left Nagasaki for Shimonoseki.
9/17/69: STEEL KING arrived Coos Bay.
9/23/69: STEEL KING left Coos Bay for New York.
10/4/69: Steamer STEEL KING, Coos Bay for Baltimore with a load of lumber, arrived Cristobal condensate pump repairs. Classification and underwriter's surveyor attending.
10/6/69: From Cristobal: STEEL KING effecting repairs to condensate pump; reportedly attributable to crew negligence.
10/9/69: From Cristobal: Steamer STEEL KING: Condensate pump impeller replaced with ship's spare. Both boilers tested satisfactorily but when ship's staff readying plant prior to resuming voyage, main circulator pump motor burned out, which ship's staff not replacing with reconditioned spare. Surveyors still investigating cause of original plant stoppage during Panama Canal transit on 10/4/69. STEEL KING sailed for Baltimore after repairs.
10/20/69: Damage discovered to bottom shell plating at Brooklyn.
11/5/69: From damage alleged sustained to bottom shell plating, time, place and cause unknown, discovered 10/20/69 while vessel was lying at Brooklyn: Three bottom shell plates partially renew and internals straighten and partially renew, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs completed.
11/21/69: From New York: From damage alleged sustained during the period of 9/17 - 10/4/69, in consequence of a fuel oil overflow due to alleged crew negligence while the vessel was at Oregon and en route from Oregon to the Panama Canal: Engine-room, shaft alley, pipe tunnel and cofferdam, tank top bilges, bulkheads and machinery foundations wash down, clean, gas-free and remove fuel oil residue, together with sundry damages and removals; repairs completed.
1/16/70: From Tokyo: The Master of American Steamer STEEL KING died on board his ship off Yokohama on Thursday Jan. 15, 1970 before he could be attended by a doctor who was flown to the vessel by a United States military helicopter. A spokesman for States Marine Lines, Inc. identified the Master as Harry Mecklem.
7/21/70: From Saigon: Steamer STEEL KING sustained heavy hull damage in collision with a barge at Vung Tao.
7/28/70: Steamer STEEL KING arrived Saigon.
9/23/72: At Chalna, damage to starboard border discovered.
12/1/72: Surveyed afloat at New Orleans in respect of damage alleged sustained at some time, date and place unknown, in consequence of breakdown, cause unknown of starboard boiler, discovered at Chalna 9/23. Permanent repairs at hand.
2/21/73: Left Durban for Karachi.

Disposition DateComments
1973Arriving at Kaohsiung prior to 8/25/73. She had sailed from Okinawa 8/5/73, initially bound for Pusan. Sold to Hsiung Steel Enterprise Ltd. who began work 10/20/73. Scrapped 10/73 Kaohsiung. Reported 12/73: Sold to the Republic of China (Taiwan) for Scrapping.

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

Photo courtesy of Captain 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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