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Canvas Bleak For ARTSHIP?

Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2010 by

ARTSHIP at Mare Island. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

During my most recent visit to the Bay Area to document the departure of the last P2s, I stopped at Mare Island (home of a former naval base) to photograph the ARTSHIP. Recent years have been very unkind to the last of the handsome C3 combiliners. Built in 1940 as Delta Lines’ DELORLEANS, she was renamed USS CRESCENT CITY for World War Two service as an attack transport. After the war, she was placed in the USNS Reserve Fleet at Suisuin Bay and plucked from obscurity to become the California Maritime Academy’s training ship GOLDEN BEAR. Her wonderful, mostly original passenger accommodation and cargo holds were home to cadets on annual training voyages into the Pacific until 1996, when she was retired and laid up in Suisuin Bay. She had a temporary reprieve in 1999, when she was loaned by MARAD to become the ARTSHIP, a floating cultural center, at Oakland. A gala ceremony was presided over by then Oakland mayor Jerry Brown (former and future hopeful governor of California) and attended by veterans of the ship’s World War Two service. However, the dream was dashed by 2004 when the old liner was reportedly sold for scrap in Texas. Instead, ARTSHIP was laid up at Mare Island, across from the recently bankrupted city of Vallejo on San Pablo Bay. The once sparkling and well-preserved vessel sits silently awaiting what is likely the final chapter in a long and noteworthy career.

15 Responses to Canvas Bleak For ARTSHIP?

  1. Matthew

    June 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve been very confused about the case of the Artship for a while, no one on the internet has confirmed whether she been scrapped or not. Del Orleans would be a nice addition to the San Diego Maritime Museum, though unlikely.

  2. Charles

    June 24, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Does anyone know what is to become of her? I wish I had stuck with my original plan to chain myself to the Independence to make some noise before she was towed out of SF bay. I would consider doing it for the GB. The sad part is, the GB has a built in history from the start. Not only that, there must be tons of alumni that would be willing to donate cash to save the old girl. Once this ship is gone, there are no do overs. For gods sake, lets not let the same happen to this ship! Is there anyone that knows of a group that is trying to save this ship? If so, lets all actually do something and not just sit around and wish someone else would save her.

  3. edvard

    June 24, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I saw this ship last year while visiting Mare Island. Beautiful old ship. Hopefully something can be done to prevent her from becoming another pack of razor blades.

  4. David

    June 25, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Maybe they could get the funds together and convert to a floating naval museum and use her on occasional day cruises like the LANE VICTORY out of San Pedro (los Angeles)

  5. Joe Mann

    June 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    This is a ship that really deserves saving. She earned 10 battle stars for her service in WWII. She is a veteran of the Guadalcanal campaign and may be the only ship that participated that is still afloat. She also participated in further invasions up the Solomons, Kwajalein, Guam, Peleliu and Leyte. She also served as a temporary hospital evacuation ship at Okinawa. It can be argued that this ship deserves to be saved just as much as a battleship or destroyer. It’s too bad there isn’t any recognition that she even exists anymore (aside from this website).

  6. Charles

    July 3, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Who will save the Golden Bear? Anyone know who now owns it? Who we can call? Joe Mann had a very good point in regards to this ship. She deserves to be saved. I live in Berkeley Ca. and would be willing to do almost anything to help save her. Any suggestions? Ideas?

  7. Matthew

    July 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Charles,
    MARAD, or the United States Maritime Administration, a government organization, owns her. Even though they have full authority to donate historic navy ships in their Defense fleets for preservation, they mostly send them to Texas to be melted down into razor blades and forks.
    I think you should get a local fund/conservancy together, post ads to donate money for Golden Bear in the paper, put up a website, maybe you can even get a spot on a local tv station reporting the ship’s peril. Get in touch with the city of Berkeley, maybe they would be interested in a new tourist magnet.
    Tell me what you think. I’d be happy to help you with Ideas.

  8. Dan

    August 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    My one advice is to establish a Facebook account to spread the word on the ship before its too late. In addition, establish a organization, entitled: Friends of the USS CRESCENT CITY. If a grass campaign could organize to save the SS United States, why can’t we save the USS CRESCENT CITY and the SS Santa Rosa/SS Emerald as hotel ships? It’s either now or never.

    While the SS Emerald is a drastically rebuilt ship, it is the only other US Passenger liner in existance. It could still serve as a hotel ship in California for the timebeing until the opportunity comes to rebuild her superstructure back to its original SS Santa Rosa Profile. The ship’s original engine room is still there, The artifacts from the Santa Rosa could still be tracked down and returned to the rebuild/restored ship. We may have lost the SS Indy. But we can stll save the SS Santa Rosa.


  9. Soren

    December 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I can not do much by myself, but I did start a save the USS Crescent City page on facebook. Please check it out, leave messages of support, let other know, lets get something moving.

  10. Mark Mathews

    December 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I live in American Canyon, not 5 miles from this vessel. I shall let you all know if and when the time comes for something to happen to this vessel. Until then, It just sits there, pierside… unwanted…. untended… a shame.

  11. Kenneth Eden

    December 5, 2010 at 6:17 am

    Here is a site I wish to make readers of Maritime Matters aware of. It is a sickening site top see, and dangerous as well.

    simply Google: Ghost fleet James River,

    scroll down to Ghost Fleet Haunts of the James River, by James Harper, dated October 31, 2010

    This is Virginias Alang, although no shops are demolished.

    It is very well written, and the Halloween date is not coincidental, as you will read.

  12. hank

    June 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Any new news?

  13. Joe

    December 22, 2011 at 7:57 am

    That’s a very nice photograph. Would you consider releasing it under a Creative Commons licence, for use on Wikipedia? You would still be attributed as the author, and a lot more people would be able to appreciate it. An appropriate licence can be found here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

    The photo would make a fine enhancement for the Wikipedia article, which can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Crescent_City_%28APA-21%29

    With your consent, I can upload the photo to Wikipedia Commons with an appropriate licence, which will enable it to be used by any Wikipedia in the world, not just the English-language version. Regards.

  14. Chris V

    January 17, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Just a Heads Up. Pacific Star (ex-Artship) departed Mare Island this past Sunday, heading to ESCO Marine in Brownsville, for scrapping.

    A screenshot of the ship moving past the former Mare Island Shipyard via webcam is available at:


  15. Samuel Cashio

    February 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    My father served on the Cresent City. Is there anywhere I can get a list of sailors on this ship in WWII?

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