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S.S. Atlantida (later IX-108) or S.S. Amapala
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Class: ATLANTIDA (IX-108)
Design Refrig. P&C, 1924
Displacement (tons): 4,002 light, ca. 6,000 load
Dimensions (feet): 350.7' x 50.2' x 20.3' load
Original Armament: 1-3"/50 4-20mm
Later armaments: --
Speed (kts.): 15.65
Propulsion (HP): 4,681
Machinery: 1 screw, triple expansion
||13 Sep 43
||24 Apr 24
||13 Sep 43
||16 May 44
||9 Jun 44
||16 May 44
FY 1943. In 1923 the Standard Fruit and Steamship Co. ordered two new refrigerated banana carrying ships, ATLANTIDA and AMAPALA, from British yards. The Standard Fruit and Steamship Co. was a smaller counterpart of the United Fruit Co. that was owned by the Vaccaro Brothers, operated primarily in Honduras, and registered its banana carriers there. Impressed with United Fruit's successful "5,000 tonners," thirteen of which had been built between 1908 and 1911, the Vaccaros asked British naval architects James Maxton & Co. to design a somewhat smaller version. As built the two ships measured roughly 4,000 gross tons and carried 76 first class passengers and about 50,000 stems of bananas in four refrigerated holds. The two ships initially operated between New Orleans and their home port of La Ceiba, Honduras, but by the late 1930s they were operating on a route connecting New York, Santiago (Cuba), Kingston (Jamaica), and La Ceiba. AMAPALA was torpedoed by a submarine south of New Orleans on 15 May 42 and ATLANTIDA was requisitioned by the War Shipping Administration at New Orleans on 22 May 42 and then re-delivered to Standard Fruit for operation under Government control.
On 9 Jun 43 VCNO advised Com-3, BuShips, and the Port Director at Baltimore that WSA had allocated ATLANTIDA to the Navy for use and directed that, after installation of Mark 29 mine gear at New York, she was to report to Baltimore for training and experimental operations in the Chesapeake Bay area. The Mark 29 was an anti-torpedo device that consisted of a towed acoustic sensor and two explosive filled hoses up to 400 feet in length that were to be streamed on each side of a merchant vessel using her paravane gear. The appropriate hose would be detonated if the sensor detected a torpedo approaching the ship. On 12 Jul 43 BuPers assigned the responsibility for training Navy personnel in the use of the Mark 29 to the Naval Mine Warfare School at Yorktown, Va., where ATLANTIDA was to carry out the underway portion of the training. Standard Fruit was to continue to operate the ship, which was to remain under Honduran registry and flag, but on 3 Sep 43 WSA notified the Navy that certain difficulties had been encountered in manning S.S. ATLANTIDA with a civilian crew. Because of these difficulties and for security reasons the Auxiliary Vessels Board recommended on 7 Sep 43 that the ship be acquired under bareboat charter by the Navy for use as a training ship, that it be manned by a Navy crew, and that it be designated as an Unclassified Auxiliary (IX). The ship was modified by WSA at New York before delivery to the Navy to accommodate 60 officer and 335 enlisted students; her merchant ship armament was retained. She served at the Naval Mine Warfare School from 15 Sep 43 to 14 Dec 43, when she departed for repairs at the Todd repair yard at Hoboken, N.J. In the meantime the Navy and the Maritime Commission had both realized that it would be very difficult for a merchant ship to stream, recover, operate, and store the explosive hoses and that a false acoustic detection could detonate them. On 19 Nov 43 the Navy directed that the installation of Mk-29 gear on merchant vessels be discontinued immediately. ATLANTIDA completed her repairs at Hoboken on 4 Feb 44 and then operated in the New York area. On 17 Mar 44 BuShips and BuOrd jointly recommended that that the improved Mk. 29 gear that had been developed since November 1943 not be installed on merchant ships and that further development should be discontinued. CNO approved this recommendation on 8 Apr 44 and ATLANTIDA and a smaller program participant, LIBERTY BELLE (IX-72), were ordered released from experimental duty. ATLANTIDA returned to Yorktown on 6 Apr 44, probably for removal of her Mk-29 gear. On 16 Apr 44 the Navy returned the vessel to the MC, which simultaneously returned her to Standard Fruit to resume operations as a freighter under Government control. Title to the ship was returned to Standard Fruit on 11 Mar 46, and she then operated in the Honduran banana trade until withdrawn in 1958.
||Ex merc. ATLANTIDA (completed 22 May 24). Used as mine warfare/ASW training ship. To MC 16 May 44 and placed in operation as merc. ATLANTIDA (Honduran registry) under General Agency Agreement, title returned to owner 11 Mar 46, scrapped 1960.
Compiled: 21 Dec 2010
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2010