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Leaden skies cover my sixth boro today, a dour sign leading me to the Gmelin collection and the grim discovery that well over a third of the photos of shipping represented in his photos from the 1930s by a decade later were sunk or scuttled as fanaticism drew the world into war.  Take this photo taken in 1931.  To situate the photo in the sixth boro, note the Stevens Mansion–demolished in 1959– just above the stern of the ship.  Nerissa was launched in Scotland in 1926, ran between NYC–St. Johns NF until 1931, when she ran between NYC and the Caribbean.  Her end came in 1941, when she was torpedoed off Ireland by U-552, on her 40th crossing with mostly Canadian troops from Halifax to Europe.  The number of souls lost was 207.

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Here’s another victim, Empress of Britain taken in 1932.  You can see the Empire State Building less than a year “topped-out” at this time. Empress of Britain made its first crossing from Southampton to Quebec City in spring 1931.  Here she was likely completing her first visit to the sixth boro, headed for Southampton to complete her first trip around the world. In November 1939 she was requisitioned as troop transport.  Less than a year later she too was sunk by a combination of a German bomber and U-boat.    She was the largest Canadian-owned merchant vessel lost in WW2;  beyond that, she was the largest ship sunk by a WW2 submarine.  For others, click here.

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I’ll be looking for sunshine in the next days and longer.

Random means random, and I challenge you to come up with a more random set . . .

Let’s start with a Gmelin photo from 1930.  I’ll give the name of the tug later in this post so that all experts of arcane sixth boro history can play.  Since today is the V-Day, let me mention that Herbert Hoover was POTUS, and not very popular at that time, post-crash, in spite of his 1928 campaign slogan “A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in Every Garage.”  Well, that did not work out so well.  A few things impress me about Hoover though, like . . . in what language would he and the First Lady–Lou–converse privately when guests were in the White House.  By the way, why is the 2nd Tuesday in November Election Day?  Answers at the end of this post.

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Here’s a photo from my archives, Surrie Moran (2000 built) assisting with a big south-bound Crowley barge El Rey (1979) in June 2013 on the Delaware River.  I was shooting against the morning sun.   You see a little of Cape Henry (1967) on the stern also.   Any guesses which Crowley tug was towing?

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And another photo from 2013, January,  in the KVK.  It’s Rebel, built 1976, with her odd hull.  Is she now scrapped?

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So now a few from the past week . . . James D. Moran (2015) passes the KV buoy heading for the North River.

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Genesis Victory (from 1981) heads into the Kills.

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The 2002 Labrador Sea comes in from somewhere out east.

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And over on a waterway I don’t get to see that often, I stumbled onto the 1940 Ireland,

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1958 Bergen Point, and

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the 1947 basic Harbor II.

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And since a lot of things are cyclical, we’re back at the mystery tug.

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With my magnifying glass, I read enough to make me think this is Richard J. Barrett, which would have been 11 years old in 1930.  Here’s Birk’s info. The ship is the 1925-launched MS Gripsholm, significant as the first transAtlantic liner powered by a diesel engine.

And Hoover and his wife spoke Mandarin for their secret asides when guests were in earshot.  I’m impressed.

And towing El Rey, here’s Sentry  (1977).

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And we have our 19th century agrarian roots to thank for the 2nd Tuesday being election day . .  . here.

 

 

SS George Washington was launched from Newport News Shipbuilding in November 1924 to operate on the Old Dominion Line between NYC and Norfolk.  It was sold to Eastern Steamship Lines in 1927.   Mr. Gmelin marked this photo–where she carries the logo on Eastern Steamship Lines on her funnel–as 1940, making it a photo of the ship near the end of its life on that run. But there were other exciting lives to come.

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After the war, it ran very briefly for Alaska Transport Company (ATCo.) between Seattle and Alaska in 1948, until ATCo went bankrupt the same year.  A French company named CGT bought her in 1949, renamed her SS Gascogne (sometimes spelled Gascoigne), ran her in the Caribbean for a while and in 1952 sold her to Messageries-Maritimes, who operated her in Indochina until she was scrapped in Hong Kong in 1955.  Quite the journey for this US East coast steamer named for POTUS 1, and what stories have been lost with her forever;  I guess some clever novelist will have to make them up.

Her Newport News Shipbuilding/Old Dominion Line twin–Robert E. Lee–was torpedoed and sunk in 1942.

Yesterday’s post showed the 1923 SS California, which was launched with three funnels until it the two dummies were removed.

The SS California below was launched in 1928 to operate as a vessel in the Panama Pacific division of the American Line Steamship Company, as shown below.  But a decade later, it was sold to the United States Maritime Commission, which modified it extensively to comply with new fireproofing requirements post-Morro Castle fire.   They also removed one of the funnels and renamed the vessel SS Uraguay.  Click here to see the two superstructures on the hull side by side.

Mr. Gmelin caught it here passing the Jersey-side Holland Tunnel vent.  Anyone have guesses on the two ferries shown?

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Actually this first in this series started here.   The ship is SS California, launched in April  1923.  If you look at the top photo in the link in the previous sentence, you’ll see this SS California started with three funnels, although it’s likely that two of the three were dummies.  Extra “dummy” funnels were “style enhancements,” added for appearance.  Notice the Lipton Tea building along the water in Hoboken?  The photo was cropped as shown.  Anyone help identify the tugboat company?

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As I mentioned in the September post linked above, I bought an album of prints at an antique shop in Oswego NY on one of my stops there this summer.  We were spending extra time there to replace a prop dinged on an immovable uncharted underwater obstruction.   Thanks to William Lafferty, I’ve learned that Mr. Gmelin “was a Cranford, New Jersey, based amateur photographer and maritime historian. He was one of the earliest members of the Steamship Historical Society of America and an occasional contributor to its journal, Steamboat Bill [now called Power Ships]. He died in 2001 at the age of eighty-eight.”  Click here and scroll for a photo of Mr. Gmelin, whose full name including the first name spelling I used above was stamped on the back of most of the photos.

Click here for SHSA’s online gallery.

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