SS American (1900)

SS American (1900)

SS American was a steel-hulled, single propeller cargo ship built at Chester, Pennsylvania, by the Delaware River Iron Shipbuilding and Engine Works for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company and the Hawaiian sugar trade. During World War I service for the United States Navy, the ship was known as USS American (ID-2292). Late in her career for American-Hawaiian, she was renamed SS Honolulan.

American was a little more than 430 feet (130 m) long and 51 feet (16 m) abeam. Coal-fired boilers powered a single triple-expansion steam engine which turned a single screw propeller. This power plant—supplemented with auxiliary sails—was capable of moving the ship at up to 12 knots (22 km/h). As one of the first four ships ordered by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company after its 1899 formation, American was used on the Hawaii – New York sugar trade via the Straits of Magellan. In 1901 she set a record for the fastest New York – San Francisco ocean passage, making the voyage in 59 days. After 1905, she was employed in inter-coastal service via the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and, after it opened in 1914, the Panama Canal.

Taken up for wartime service after the United States entered World War I in April 1917, she completed two round-trip voyages to France without incident. Shortly after the start of her third such voyage, however, she collided with another U.S. Navy vessel, USS West Gate, sinking that vessel with the loss of seven of her crew in October 1918. She completed one more round trip in U.S. Navy service, sailing to Gibraltar after the Armistice in November. She returned to New York in February 1919, was decommissioned, and returned to American-Hawaiian.

SS American resumed cargo service with American-Hawaiian after her return from naval service, being renamed Honolulan in 1925. She was sold in 1926 and taken to Osaka where she was broken up sometime after her arrival there in November that same year.

Read more about SS American (1900):  Design and Construction, Early Career, U.S. Navy Service, Later Career

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SS American (1900) - Later Career
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