The movement of guano (for fertiliser use) between the Chincha Islands off Peru and the United States during the 1860's marked the beginning of the Grace Line. By the 1890's the company was using steamships between New York and South American west coast ports, requiring their passage round Cape Horn. By 1916 the route gained a passenger service between New York & Valparaiso, Chile. Competition during the 1920's from the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and the Chilean Line led to the Grace Line placing an order in 1928 for two diesel powered passenger vessels to bring improvements to the South American service.
The order was placed with the Furness Shipbuilding Company in Haverton-on-Tees, England for two 8,100 ton vessels each powered by two 4,000hp Sulzer diesel engines which could achieve a maximum speed of 16 knots for their complement of 157 first class passengers, later increased to 172. Although built with two funnels, the forward funnel was a dummy. The ships were delivered in 1928, named the Santa Barbara (2nd to carry this name) and the Santa Maria (1st of this name). They were the first large motor passenger ships to sail under the U.S. flag. 1930 saw the addition of the Santa Clara, a slightly larger version of the Santa Barbara, but generally similar in many respects apart from the turboelectric propulsion system which provided a cruising speed of 18 knots. The introduction this new ship led to a tightening of the schedules, which required the Santa Barbara & Santa Maria to operate at their maximum speed for much of the time in order to maintain the schedules.
For the 1931/32 sailings the Santa Barbara & Santa Maria worked the route between New York and Valparaiso calling at Havana, Cristobal, Balboa, Buenaventura, Guayaquil, Talara, Salaverry, Callao, Pisco, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chañaral & Coquimbo.
For the 1932 sailings the ports of call were New York, Cristobal, Balboa, Talara, Callao, Mollendo, Arica, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chañaral & Valparaiso and returning via Chañaral, Antofagasta, Tocopilla, Callao, Talara, Buenaventura, Balboa, Cristobal, Havana & New York.
During the summer of 1932 Grace Line withdrew the 'B' list ships Santa Inez, Santa Rita and the Santa Olivia from the South American service due to poor trade conditions. The 'A' express service with the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and the Santa Clara would now call additionally at Buenaventura, Guayaquil and Salaverry.
Sailings in the latter half of 1935 called at New York, Havana, Kingston, Cristobal, Balboa, Buenaventura, Manta/Bahia, Guayaquil, Talara, Paita, Salaverry, Callao, Mollendo, Arica, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chañaral, Coquimbo, Valparaiso.
For the period November 1938 to September 1939 the route was New York, Havana, Cristobal, Balboa, Buenaventura, Guayaquil, Talara, Salaverry, Callao, Mollendo, Arica, Iquique, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Chañaral, Coquimbo, Valparaiso & San Antonio.
The arrival of World War Two brought to an end a decade of very similar service for these two ships, in 1940 both were sold to the US Navy for further use as transports. In these roles the two ships would visit very different theatres of war.
Santa Barbara, USS McCawley AP10, later APA4
Santa Barbara observations at the Panama Canal 1929 - 1940:
Santa Barbara present at the Port of Cristobal, CZ and/or Port of Balboa, CZ on January 27th 1930, February 20th 1930, March 24th 1930, April 16th 1930, May 10th & 28th 1930, June 21st 1930, July 9th 1930, August 2nd/3rd & 29th/30th 1930, September 13th 1930, October 25th 1930, December 7th 1930.
Santa Barbara present at the Port of Cristobal, CZ and/or Port of Balboa, CZ on January 19th/20th 1931, February 5th/6th 1931, March 2nd 1931, April 11th - 14th & 30th 1931, May 1st & 25th 1931, June 11th 1931, July 6th/7th & 23rd/24th 1931, August 17th/18th 1931, September 3rd/4th & 28th/29th 1931, October 15th/16th 1931, November 9th - 12th & 26th/27th 1931, December 21st/22nd 1931.
Santa Barbara present at the Port of Cristobal, CZ and/or Port of Balboa, CZ on January 7th/8th 1932, February 1st/2nd & 18th/19th 1932, March 31st/April 1st 1932, April 25th/26th 1932, May 12th/13th 1932, June 6th & 24th 1932, July 18th 1932, August 4th & 30th 1932, September 15th/16th 1932, October 10th/11th & 27th/28th 1932, November 21st/22nd 1932.
Santa Barbara present at the Port of Cristobal, CZ and/or Port of Balboa, CZ on January 3rd & 19th/20th 1933, February 15th 1933, March 2nd/3rd & 29th 1933, April 13th/14th 1933, May 10th/11th & 25th 1933, June 21st 1933.
1933, July 6th - 7th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from New York, NY to San Antonio, Chile with general cargo.
1934, January 17th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from Valparaiso, Chile to New York, NY with general cargo.
1935, January 4th - 6th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from New York, NY to Talcahuano, Chile with general cargo.
1936, January 14th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from Valparaiso, Chile to New York, NY with general cargo.
1937, March 18th - 20th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from New York, NY to Talcahuano, Chile with general cargo.
1938, January 6th - 7th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from New York, NY to San Antonio, Chile with general cargo.
1939, January 24th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from San Antonio, Chile to New York, NY with copper, coffee and general cargo.
1940, January 12th - 13th negotiating Panama Canal enroute from New York, NY to San Antonio, Chile with general cargo.
The Santa Barbara was sold to the US Navy during July 1940 and was quickly renamed McCawley (AP-10), the second to carry this name, after Charles G McCawley, the 8th Commandant of the US Marine Corps. The ship was commissioned on September 11th 1940. Following this the McCawley participated in amphibious warfare exercises resulting in modifications to the ship to better suit her for these purposes.
The ship sailed for Iceland on February 19th 1942, returning to New York by March 25th 1942, then sailing to Norfolk, Virginia. The ship then sailed immediately for Wellington, New Zealand via the Panama Canal, en-route discharging marine aviators at Pago Pago on May 8th 1942. On arrival at Wellington the McCawley became the flagship of Rear Admiral RK Turner. The ship was involved in the invasion of Guadalcanal commencing August 7th 1942, with landings at Tulagi & Lunga Point. The ship was successful in shooting down enemy aircraft on August 8th 1942, by the next day all the cargo had been unloaded, then sailing for Noumea. For the next five months or so the McCawley would be in the same theatre of operations as her sister ship, the Barnett.
It was back to Guadalcanal on September 18th 1942 with supplies and reinforcements, returning the same day with wounded and prisoners of war. More reinforcements and cargo were delivered on October 9th 1942. Again the ship returned with wounded and prisoners of war to Noumea.
On November 8th 1942 the McCawley departed Nouméa once again for Guadalcanal, arriving at Lunga Point on November 12th 1942. Unloading commenced despite torpedo bomber attacks, but reports of Japanese ship movements from Truk caused the transports to cease their activity and move to Espiritu Santo. Whilst here the naval ships that had been protecting the transports engaged the Japanese Navy in the naval Battle of Guadalcanal during the period November 12th - 15th 1942 with considerable casualties being sustained by both sides.
The McCawley left Noumea on November 24th 1942 for Wellington, New Zealand for overhaul.
From Wellington the McCawley reached New Caledonia on January 10th 1943 with the 1st Marine Raiders and the 3rd Parachute Battalion. These units were discharged and Army troops and construction equipment were loaded and delivered to Guadalcanal.
The McCawley was redesignated attack transport APA-4 on February 1st 1943. Despite the change in designation the McCawley continued to supply Guadalcanal until mid-June 1943 when preparations began for the campaign in New Georgia and the central Solomons. On June 30th 1943 the ship was at Rendova Island unloading supplies. Once this was complete the transports moved off during the early afternoon and came under air attack in the Blanche Channel. The results were mixed, four aircraft were brought down by McCawley's gunners, but fifteen crew were killed and the ship lost all power when a torpedo struck the engine room. A salvage crew remained with the ship as the USS Libra (AKA-12) took the McCawley under tow under the protection of destroyers USS Ralph Talbot (DD-390) and USS McCalla (DD-488). With the ship getting lower in the water the crew were taken off, then dive bombers unsuccessfully strafed the ship, losing three aircraft to the ships guns. With the ship now very low in the water the salvage crew were removed. About ninety minutes later friendly torpedo boats fired on the McCawley, mistaking it for an enemy vessel. The torpedos found their mark and the ship sank very quickly in about a 1,000 feet water.
Santa Maria, USS Barnet AP11, later APA5
The Santa Maria was purchased by the US Navy on August 11th 1940 and commissioned on September 25th 1940. The following three months were involved in training exercises in the Culebra-Vieques Islands area. Between January 1941 and early April 1941 the ship underwent overhaul at Norfolk, Virginia. The rest of the year was spent in further exercises, some of which took place at New River, North Carolina.
On February 19th 1942 the Barnett sailed from New York as part of convoy AT 12 bound for the United Kingdom. It returned west in convoy TA 12 returning to New York. On April 9th 1942 the Barnett embarked troops bound for the southwest Pacific, passing through the Panama Canal on 18 April 1942, reaching Wellington, New Zealand, on May 22nd 1942. From Wellington the Barnett sailed to Noumea and on to San Diego after picking up survivors from the crew of the USS Lexington following its engagement in the Battle of the Coral Sea.
From San Diego the Barnett sailed north to San Francisco and embarked Marines and cargo bound for Guadalcanal, departing on June 23rd 1942 with convoy PW 2095, arrival in Wellington was during early July. At Wellington the cargo was rearranged to provide better access to the most urgently required supplies. The ship sailed on July 22nd 1942 for Koro Island, Fiji for a practice landing exercise. After five days here it was on to Guadalcanal for the landing on August 7th 1942. The next day a crashing Mitsubishi G4M bomber damaged the Barnett, which then sailed on August 9th 1942 for Nouméa carrying survivors of ships sunk at the Battle of Savo Island. By November 1942 the Barnett was operating between Tulagi and Guadalcanal moving troops and supplies.
From February 1st 1943 the Barnett was reclassified APA-5. Convoy UGF 8A sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, on May 10th 1943 with the Barnett bound for Oran, Algeria, arriving on May 23rd 1943. The Barnett became part of the fleet used to invade Sicily, sailing on July 5th 1943 with convoy NCF 1 to Gela, Sicily, arriving just after midnight on July 10th 1943. After unloading of the troops the Barnett moved offshore and sustained a bomb hit during an air attack on July 11th 1943. The bomb killed seven Army personnel and injured thirty five, putting a hole in the hull leading to flooding. Control of the list stopped the flooding, allowing the ship to sail with convoy CNF1 to Algiers for repairs, arriving July 15th 1943.
After repair the Barnett sailed from Oran on September 5th 1943 with convoy SNF 1 in support of the Salerno landings, arriving on September 9th 1943. For the next six weeks the Barnett supported the Allied forces in Italy, making several round trips to Naples. The Barnett left the Mediterranean theatre in late November, departing Oran in convoy MKF 26 and arriving Liverpool on December 9th 1943.
Eleven days later the Barnett sailed for New York with convoy UC 8, arriving in New York on January 2nd 1944. Barnett returned across the north Atlantic with convoy UT 8 on February 11th 1944 as part of the D-Day build up, arriving England on February 23rd 1944. By mid August the ship was at Naples, sailing on August 13th 1944 in support of the invasion of southern France.
From April through September 1945 the Barnett was in the Pacific, initially supporting the invasion of Okinawa at the beginning of April 1945.
Decommissioning took place at the end of April 1946 and transferred to the Maritime Commission/War Shipping Administration on July 3rd 1946 for disposal.
1948 - 1949
Flotta Lauro had been an ocean freight hauler prior to World War Two, after the war the company ventured into the emigrant market, particularly the Europe - Australia route. The Surriento would be the company's first passenger ship.
The first voyage left Genoa on May 22nd 1949 to Fremantle (June 17th), Melbourne (June 23rd) & Sydney (June 25th). On the eastbound sailings the ships were run direct from Colombo to Australian ports, on the westbound sailings stops would be made at Djakarta & Singapore. It was carrying 1,170 passengers of ten different nationalities. On the night of June 25th one passenger, travelling from Fremantle to Brisbane was found dead in their cabin bathroom with their throat cut. As with many services from Europe via Suez the ship sailed anti-clockwise around Australia. On this sailing an average speed of 18 knots was maintained between Colombo & Fremantle.
The return westbound voyage commenced June 28th 1949 to Singapore (July 12th/ 13th), Columbo and Genoa. At Singapore more than 800 people attended a cocktail party to celebrate the Surriento's establishment on this service. For the westbound sailing the ship carried three prisoners of war and two political detainees being returned to Italy. The POWs had escaped from custody during the war, then recaptured for repatriation.
Fares from Singapore to Colombo were First Class: $247.50, Cabin Third Class four berth: $137.50, Cabin Third Class eight berth $25.00, Dormitory Third Class: $90.00; all meals include rice and curry.
The second voyage from Genoa started on August 12th 1949 under the command of Captain A Coppola, reaching Melbourne on September 12th with passengers including many Jewish refugees from central Europe. A total of 209 children were on this sailing, including a large contingent from Malta. An outbreak of measles affected the children on the voyage. Arrived Brisbane September 19th.
September 16th: a stowaway from Port Said was ordered to be held in custody and be returned to Italy on the Surriento. The stowaway, a former rating in the Italian Navy had been captured by the French after a French warship sank his ship. He was detained in French prisoner-of-war camps in Corsica and North Africa and was then put in the French Foreign Legion for six years. Then in August 1949 he was ordered on to a French troopship headed for action in Indo-China. Whilst anchored at Port Said the stowaway jumped ship and swam for a considerable time until he reached and boarded undetected the Surriento. When he did surrender to the ship's officers he learned the Surriento was headed for Australia but he would be banned from landing in Australia.
The second westbound voyage from Australia commenced on October 3rd 1949?? reported dockside at Singapore on September 30th.
November 26th: arrived Fremantle from Genoa. A ten month old baby died whilst on this sailing. Customs officials at Fremantle found a case with a false bottom that contained a shotgun and some plants. Arrived at Melbourne on December 1st. A Sydney bound passenger wishing to leave four suitcases at Melbourne was remanded several days later when a search of the suitcases revealed 1,200 watches hidden in secret compartments. The watches were branded 'Switzerland' and valued at A12,000 pounds. The watches were for women of gold and silver chrome and had no bands. Apart from narcotics this was the largest seizure of a single commodity made in many years.
December 8th: departed Sydney for Genoa via Singapore (due 14th/19th), arrived Brisbane December 9th with 100 migrants to disembark. The vessel included seventy children headed from eastern Australia, where they were studying, to Malaya to spend time with their parents during the Christmas season, they had been booked on the Blue Funnel Line vessel Gorgon but this was taken out of commission at short notice due to engine troubles.
December 27th: hand over of power in Indonesia from the Dutch to the Indonesians. Shipping companies reported very heavy bookings of westbound liners headed for Holland. The week before Christmas the Surriento carried nearly 800 Dutch and Eurasian passengers, mostly women & children headed for Europe.
January 23rd: eastbound at Port Said.
February 15th: arrived Melbourne, having departed Genoa with 1,070 migrants for Australia. One of the passengers for Melbourne was Swiss industrialist Dr Oscar Sulzer, a director of Sulzer Brothers and was a guest of the Victoria Chamber of Manufacturers. At Sydney February 19th, at Brisbane February 23rd, at Singapore March 9th.
April 8th: embarked 518 migrants at Genoa & Naples and 451 migrants at Messina for Australia.
April 28th: arrived Fremantle, Melbourne (May 3rd), Sydney (May 4th). To sail from Sydney May 8th via Brisbane to Genoa. 208 Italian migrants were to disembark at Brisbane on May 11th. Also onboard was a young kangaroo en-route from a Sydney zoo to the zoo in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.
May 23rd: departed Singapore with many travellers en-route to Rome for the Vatican's Holy Year celebrations. Many more pilgrims had been expected to travel but the lack of devaulation to the Italian lira had made the trip too expensive for many. There was also an increased police presence on the dock to deter potential stowaways. Vessel arrived at Naples on June 14th.
July 12th: at Fremantle.
The voyage of July 26th from Sydney to Genoa included Djakarta in order to pickup Dutch nationals returning to Holland following the recent independence of Indonesia.
July 28th: expected at Brisbane, but berthing was delayed 24 hours due to missing the tide, 189 Italian & German migrants were to disembark.
August 11th: at Singapore westbound.
August 15th: at Colombo from Sydney.
October 4th: at Fremantle, at Melbourne (Oct 10th), at Sydney (Oct 11th), scheduled Singapore October 30th.
November 26th: departed Genoa.
December 20th: with approxiamately 1,200 passengers arrived at Freemantle, Melbourne (Dec 28th) and Sydney (30th).
March 10th: arrived Fremantle, with 1,175 passengers of 24 nationalities of which 90 passengers to disembark at Fremantle, the ship was delayed about four hours just prior to arrival due to engine troubles. Expected at Melbourne (March 16th), Sydney (March 19th) and Brisbane (March 24th).
April 6th: westbound at Singapore, passengers included eleven priests expelled from China.
May 20th: eastbound at Messina.
June 8th: with 1,300 passengers at Fremantle, at Melbourne (June 13th), at Sydney (June 18th), at Brisbane (June 21st), at Singapore (July 5th), at Colombo (July 10th?) - this may have been the Surriento's last Australian sailing before being replaced by the Roma.
The arrival of new ships on the Australia run in the last quarter of 1951 (the Roma & the Sydney) allowed the Surriento to move to the Naples - Venezuela service, refitted in 1952 to accommodate 119 first and 994 tourist.
September 13th: scheduled at Singapore (did the Surriento make one voyage to Australia in 1952??).
April 22nd: at Sydney, at Brisbane (April 24th) for Genoa, at Singapore (May 6th).
July 1st: at Fremantle, Melbourne (July 7th), Sydney (July 11th) and Brisbane (July 14th), at Singapore (July 31st).
September 22nd: at Fremantle, at Melbourne (Sept 29th), Sydney (Oct 4th) and Brisbane (Oct 6th) for Genoa.
October 13th: scheduled at Singapore.
December 15th: arrived Melbourne with 1,050 Italian passengers, along with 1,000 boxes of Christmas mail. Vessel under command of Captain Angelo Carnincich, at Sydney (Dec 18th), at Brisbane (Dec 21st). It would then sail for Jakarta, Colombo, Suez and Genoa, passing Cairns on Christmas Day.
February 26th: expected at Fremantle.
March 7th: Cape Green (between Melbourne & Sydney) one stowaway jumped overboard, ship turned around and successful rescue made. The stowaway was detained and was to be returned to his native Italy. At Sydney March 9th, with Captain A Carnincich for Brisbane, Jakarta, Singapore, Colombo, Port Said, Naples, Marseilles and Genoa. On this trip the vessel called at Massawa, Eritrea to embark Italian passenger for Genoa. Two Eritrean young men stowed away and after discovery were not allowed to disembark anywhere, being held in a locked cabin when the ship was docked. On their 2nd trip to Sydney they escaped through a porthole but were captued whilst at a Sydney employment agency. They were returned to the Surriento with an uncertain fate as the only port that will recieve them is not a regular port of call for the Surriento. As of November 12th 1954 the two stowaways were still aboard the Surriento.
March 23rd: scheduled at Singapore.
May 21st: arrived Melbourne with Captain A Carnincich and his wife Teresa, at Sydney May 24th, at Brisbane May 28th, for Genoa, via Brisbane, an extra stop at Suva had been added. Passengers disembarking at Brisbane included 193 Maltese men, women & children.
August 3rd: arrived Freemantle with 1,232 migrants for Australia. Departure clearance was denied until a holed lifeboat had been repaired and the lowering ropes of four others were made safe.
August 8th: arrived Melbourne, after passenger complaints the health authorities inspected the ship and considered it satisfactory. 1,200 Maltese & Italian migrants complained of overcrowding. Two children died on the voyage, one from entiritis and one from heatstroke. The ship was given a limited medical clearance to depart Melbourne, if any illnesses were detected en-route to Sydney the ship would have to call at Watson's Bay for medical clearance into Sydney. Two cases of measles were reported but the Surriento went direct to a wharf at East Circular Quay, Sydney, all passengers were detained until midnight when the ship was cleared by a doctor. No passengers were allowed off the ship until 8am the next morning when customs officers and other officials returned to the ship! At Sydney August 11th.
August 26th: at Singapore.
October 23rd: arrived late at Melbourne due to heavy seas and easterly winds, at Sydney October 27th.
October 30th: three criminals were transferred to the Surriento from Brisbane jail and headed for European authorities, being an Italian, a Dutchman and an Englishman.
December 30th: at Fremantle from Genoa.
June 11th 1955: arrived Melbourne.
August 28th 1955: arrived Melbourne, a total of 1,169 migrants had been on this sailing.
February 3rd 1956: at Melbourne.
April 10th 1956: arrived Fremantle with 1,100 passengers and 215 crew, whilst here an inspection was carried out by Department of Navigation officers, which disclosed very serious defects in the life saving equipment.
April 19th 1956: in the Port Melbourne court the master of the Surriento, Captain Angelo Carnincich was fined A100 pounds for failing to keep the life-saving equipment on the ship fit and ready for use at all times. It was admitted that one of the lifeboats sank when placed in the water at Fremantle. Additionally none of the 26 lifeboats could be swung out for lowering because the guard rails, which had to be removed first were rusted solid and could not be freed. These rails had to be cut free before the lifeboats could be lowered. Of the 26 lifeboats eight were steel and eighteen were wooden. The covers on the lifeboats had to be pried free with a crowbar. Nine of the boats had rot in the woodwork, two of the steel boats had faulty hulls and the mast clamps in eleven of the boats were seized.
August 30th 1956: departed Genoa on its last voyage to Australia.
September 27th 1956: at Melbourne.
On the voyage arriving at Fremantle on September 22nd 1956 the ship was stopped for safety violations, receiving heavy fines. It docked at Sydney on October 3rd and sailed the next day for Genoa. It would be replaced on the Australian service by the Roma.
A further refit in 1959 included an enlarged superstructure, streamlining, one funnel and improved amenities, including air conditioning for the 1,080 tourist class passengers on the service between Italy and Central America/Carribean. The Surriento worked this serviced from 1960 to 1965, when it was briefly chartered to ZIM Lines for work between Haifa & Marseilles. The charter ended in the middle of 1966 and with no further work available the ship was laid up before being sent for scrap in La Spezia, Italy late in September 1966.
Built: Furness Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Haverton Hill
Page added April 18th 2010.
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