SS El Oriente was a cargo and passenger steamship launched on 11 May 1910 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. of Newport News, Virginia (yard no. 132), and delivered to the Atlantic division of the Morgan Line on 24 October 1910. She was the third of four sister ships; the other three being El Sol, El Mundo, and El Occidente. El Oriente was 6,008 gross register tons (GRT), was 430 feet 2 inches (131.11 m) long by 53 feet 1 inch (16.18 m) abeam, and made 16 knots (30 km/h). The vessel sailed for the Morgan Line, the brand name of the Southern Pacific Steamship Company (a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad), which employed her to carry cargo and a limited number of passengers between New York; New Orleans, the eastern terminus of the Southern Pacific line; and Galveston, Texas.
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