Sunday, November 8, 2009

The S.S. Washington

A long while ago -- I don't quite remember when -- I decided I wanted to find the immigration records from my father's side of the family. They came into the United States from The Netherlands in 1950, long after the big wave of immigration washed over this country but not long after World War II, which they survived. I found them, and they're fun to see.

Above, you can see the entry record for my father Marinus and his brother, along with their mother Dirkje. They were placed on medical hold at Ellis Island along with their father, as you'll see on the next image.

The entry record says "suspected tuberculosis," but the real problem was that enroute, his chest x-ray got folded. He did not have tuberculosis, and the family were allowed entry in mid-November, 1950.

I know their stories fairly well, as we've discussed them in family sessions and in a book I wrote about my Dad a few years ago. One of these days I think it would be interesting to see what happened to some of the people who entered the country at about the same time they did.

They came to the US aboard the SS Washington:

This is what I know of the ship they came on:
Built at New York Shipbuilding Corp.
Yard #406
24,289 GRT
705 x 86.3 feet
Twin screw, Parson geared turbines from builders
20 knots, max 22.7 knots
580 Cabin, 461 Tourist 196 3rd class passengers, 475 crew
Launched August 20 1932. Completed in April 1933. Maiden voyage New York - Southampton - Hamburg, May 10 1933. At the outbreak of war the liner was heading for Europe, so after calls at Cobh and Le Havre, she returned to New York. She then made two round trip voyage to Bordeaux in Western France to repatriate stranded Americans in Europe. After the neutrality act was signed, her voyages to France were cancelled. The Maritime Commission granted permission for MANHATTAN and WASHINGTON to operate a passenger and freight service from New York to Italy which commenced January 13, 1940 calling at Genoa and Naples. However, after Italy's entry into the war the service was ended. WASHINGTON made one special voyage to leaving New York May 30 to Le Verdon, France and to Lisbon, Italy, she picked up 939 and 836 passengers respectively. Off the Portuguese coast she was halted by a German submarine, passengers and crew were ordered into the boats, the Captain insisted that his ship was not American and the submarine departed. At the request of the State Department she made two more transatlantic voyages from New York one to Galway, Ireland and again to Lisbon arriving back in New York July 18 1940. She then sailed New York - Panama - California July 26. First voyage New York to San Francisco July 26.
In 1941 WASHINGTON and her sister MANHATTAN were both taken over by the US Navy, WASHINGTON sailed for Manila 1 April as a troop transport. July 16 she was renamed USS MOUNT VERNON (P 22) and official entered U.S. Navy troop service. Bought by U.S. Government September 26, 1942. Altered to 22,846 GRT. She was renamed WASHINGTON in 1945 and released from service in January 18, 1946 and handed over to the U.S. Maritime Commission and laid up.
April 2, 1946 she began her first post war voyage New York - Southampton to bring back war brides and children. In February United States Lines chartered her for New York - Cobh - Southampton service as a consort to AMERICA. Reconditioned in 1948. Remeasured at 23,626 GRT with 1,106 passengers in tourist class. Remeasured in 1949 29,627 GRT. Continued in New York - Cobh - Southampton - Le Havre - Hamburg service until handed over to the U.S. Maritime Commission in October 1951 for Military Sea Transportation Service. Laid up in Hudson River February 1953. Sold for demolition June 30, 1964 to Union Metals & Alloys of New York. Arrived Kearney, NJ June 28, 1964 and broken up by Lipsett Inc.

They also appear on the ship's manifest of passengers. I'd like to recreate their ocean voyage one of these days.


Maaike said...

Bri! That's AWESOME!! Have you showed it to Mommy?

delia said...

I also came to America on the ship SS Washington Dec. 1950 from Germany...
where did you find the manifest records?
You can see a little bit about our venture on this webpage

Mister Fweem said...


If I remember right, I got them from just after all of the records were digitized and when they were offering a free trial. I'll see if I can't find them again and I'll post the information here.