Home » Featured » PACIFIC STAR, ex ARTSHIP, To The Breakers


Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 by

Screen capture of former ARTSHIP (the white vessel) departing Mare Island, supplied by MM reader Chris V. Jan 15, 2012, courtesy David Tudman.

SS PACIFIC STAR (ex ARTSHIP, ex GOLDEN BEAR), after being sold for $1, is now under tow to ESCO Marine in Brownsville, Texas, where she will be scrapped.

Following an auction on November 7, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. on the steps of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, the judge’s order now reflects that:

“No opposition to said sale having been filed, and good cause appearing, ORDER CONFIRMING SALE OF VESSEL, signed by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 12/21/11 ORDERING that the sale of vessel SS PACIFIC STAR (ex ARTSHIP, ex GOLDEN BEAR), Official No. 239932, to ESCO MARINE, INCL is hereby CONFIRMED; no challenges or objections to the sale were made as required by Local Admiralty Rule 570(g), and no other impediment existing, the sale stands confirmed as of course; as the entire purchase price has been paid, the Marshal is INSTRUCTED to prepare and deliver to ESCO MARINE, INC., or its nominee designated in writing to the Marshal, a bill of sale conveying title to such vessel to ESCO MARINE, INC., or such nominee, free and clear of any and all liens and encumbrances.”

SS PACIFIC STAR departed Mare Island, San Francisco Bay, for scrapping at Brownsville Texas on Sunday, January 15, 2012 in the early morning hours.  The 72 year old vessel is the last surviving American-built cargo-passenger liner and served heroically in World War Two as an armed attack transport before becoming a training ship and ultimately an unrealized exhibition ship.  She has been laid up at Mare Island since 2004.


25 Responses to PACIFIC STAR, ex ARTSHIP, To The Breakers

  1. David Tudman

    January 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Actually, it was Sunday morning around 0730 Pacific time, not Monday as stated in the article. I happened to click on the drawer.com webcam at that time and saw her passing in the background. Unless “Chris V.” happened also to be viewing the webcam at the same time, I took the image seen above.

  2. Peter Knego

    January 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks, David. I’ll correct the date and add your credit. Many thanks! Peter

  3. Martin Cox

    January 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for editing Peter, yes and thank David. Chris had sent me the link. I wish we had a better shot of her end, a sad blurry finale to a great little ship. I last saw her in Oakland with Peter K. – martin

  4. captgeo

    January 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    So, what is the big gray thing in the foreground? Isn’t the USS IOWA somewhere in the neighborhood being cleaned up before being towed to Los Angeles?

  5. ben pearson

    January 17, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    The old girl left her berth and was under tow @ 6:50 am local pacific time
    she sat in the mud for years, departure time was at a seasonal high tide .. plated with riveted steel plate with very few origional welds
    she was a ghost ship from the past .. a noble ship she carried Cadets safely around the world for many years.. having once worked on her and
    having her in my view for years she will be missed .. a sad day when a
    cold ship is towed to the wreckers RIP TS Golden Bear…

  6. Peter Knego

    January 17, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Ben, did you take any photos of her departure? A remarkably historic passage that I hope someone documented. I caught her final arrival under the GGB way back in 1996 when she was still GOLDEN BEAR. They even mustered up a whistle salute. Unfortunately, I was across the country and I didn’t learn of her leaving (or even the auction) until today. Many thanks, Peter

  7. David Tudman

    January 18, 2012 at 5:05 am

    The ‘big grey thing’ in the foregrounds is MISPILLION (AO-105). She is having her hull cleaned before following PACIFIC STAR to Brownsville.

  8. Ed V

    January 18, 2012 at 9:23 am

    HMM. MISPILLION. What beautiful architecture of her era. I call still see her in my mind as she came alongside USS MIDWAY CV-41 to transfer fuel to us in the Indian Ocean and other areas we deployed during my time aboard from June 1985 to December 1987. Shame not to have her or a sister as a memorial to all who served aboard ships like her in the past.

  9. Chris V

    January 18, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Correct, I did not take the screengrab, I just sent a link to it as visual confirmation that she had been towed off. Sorry for the confusion.

  10. captgeo

    January 18, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Thanks David. The battleship USS IOWA is somewhere in the North San Francisco Bay area undergoing a cleaning unless she has already been towed to her new home as a museum ship at the port of Los Angeles — San Pedro.

  11. Mark Mathews (USN) Retired

    January 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

    WOW! ITS GONE? FINALLY? Having been onboard the former SS Golden Bear as a young Sea Cadet for a week back in 1976, and having stared at it for years glued to the waterfront, it is strange to see it gone. As for the USS Iowa (of which I was a Navy plankowner 1984-87), she is currently in the port of Richmond, being prepared for its tow southward to its new home in San Pedro. for deatils, see http://www.pacificbattleship.com

  12. Ben Pearson

    January 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    No Peter Knego alas I was caught un-prepared my 35-mil was dead and the digital went with my wife . She wallowed out of the mud and floated at
    6:50 am sunday morning , two tugs on the hip and one port foreward
    ” She left like a theif in the night ” not a toot from the tugs and no
    running lights … wonder if dockage was owed or leins were in place ??
    was just thinking about all the Middies who dilegently searched for the golden rivet ..

  13. Andrew Diamond

    January 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I must be getting old two ship’s I sailed on heading for the breakers in one picture. Was on the Golden Bear as a cadet 1977 to 1981, on the Mispillion as 2nd mate 1984 to 1985.

    The cadets on the Bear has a tradition of repainting the name on the stern at the begining of the annual cruise. Some variations were “Golden Rear”, ” Old Beer”, etc., you get the picture. When she tuned away from the pier and headed down the bay. All the parent’s gathered to wish their loved ones goodbye got a shot of the new name and an idea that it wouldn’t be all studies for the next 2 1/2 month’s. Her interior is covered with murals chronicling 25 years worth of adventures. I hope someone has documented them.

    The Mispillion AKA “San Miguel Express” once welcomed the USS Independence also side for an unrep flying the skull & crossbones and with the entire deck gang dressed as pirates. It all had something to do with the battle group admiral not liking civilian MSC tankers alongside his flag ship. The Indy’s bosun’s mates were rolling on the decks laughing, the admiral was not pleased, but needed the gas. There was another time after getting hammered by the tail end of a typhoon all night and falling far behind the battle group the Midway sudden appeared out of the rain requesting permission to take station on us. She then signaled “Us old girls gotta stick together”. She wanted fuel once the seas layed down, but it was a nice sentiment.

    Just a couple of sea stories from two fine old ships. I’m sure there are thousands more.

  14. Martin Cox

    January 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks David, Ed and to Andrew for more detail on the “big grey thing”, good to get more information and details on MISPILLION (AO-105). Sorry to see GOLDEN BEAR go.

  15. Ed Mitchell

    January 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Just absolutely sad. I sailed on the Bear as a cadet right before her end in 1994. We took her to Russia that year – something I’ll never forget. When I went to Vallejo for homecoming in 2010 I made sure to stop by and see the Bear. I have a photo of her as my desktop on my computer.

    It is just a shame how the Academy did nothing, absolutely NOTHING, to try and save her. After they got the Maury in 1995 they forgot all about the Bear and have done nothing since. Now it is too late. Just absolutely sad.

  16. Ben Pearson

    January 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Hey Ed Mitchell Do you remember the Cadet that got juiced in a bar ??
    the local Police held him for ransom . Cheif Mate Sears went to rescue
    him , cots him $ 1,000 US cash .. I think this was on your cruise , the Cadet was an Engineering Student ” a big lad ” worked with him shoreside about 2000 .. Sears a Rickover Baby did not set foot on Russian soil, exception being to rescue His Cadet . the tales are endless …

  17. charles jennings

    January 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I am sick to my stomach that she was not rescued, nor was there any attempt by the academy or any other organization to rescue her. It is a sad day when we scrap one of the last of our historic ships to male a few bucks. Maybe we should scrap the last of the Liberty ships, or the Victory ships. I bet if she had hit the same rock that the Costa Concordia had hit that she would not have sunk… her hull was strong and thick. I hope at least someone tries to buy a piece of her to save in a museum. May she rest in Peace.

  18. ben pearson

    January 20, 2012 at 2:51 am

    To Charles Jennings
    Yes tis a shame !! she was a small ship , could have been kept for a
    small budget .. If our local school system did not have their head so far up their ass !!!! the Bear could have been a major component of our
    local School / Education system …With High-school through Juinior College Vocational instructional exposure for Students , many could have learned marine industriaul technology and the arts of the deck
    She is a low tech Ship .. perfect for the youth to cut their teeth
    on and get a bit of salt … In Vallejo we are loosing our Maritime heritage by the day !!! most locals know nothing of the tides or anything of the history of the waterfront .. bunch of chicken farmers and g-d d-m worthless land lubbers .. a City that has a proud history of Ship building and the maritime arts is turning into a cesspool
    of landsmen and all their chicken–it cr-p … Yes Charlie your right
    She should have been saved , her construction was such that she could have lasted beyond our lifetime’s … wish i could have enlisted a bunch of like minded folks , if only i had a deep pocket !!
    Ben P

  19. Captain Gort

    January 20, 2012 at 7:47 am

  20. Captain Gort

    January 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

    I sailed in the late 60s on the prior TSGB…the Mellena, a 1944 twin screw, turboelectric AKA built in ’44. Great memories. In the early 70s, that ship went to the knackers and was replaced by the U.S.S. Crescent City (“Artship”) where she served safely for decades, steaming annually all over the world. A single screw, turbine ship…with a counter stern…built in ’39. Truly, a ship worth preserving…last of that breed. Bye, Bye great ship!

  21. jorge h.

    March 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    I work at esco marine and this ship is being dismantle.

  22. Mark Mathews (USN) Retired

    March 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Any photos yet? Nothing on ESCO website…

  23. Larry Miller

    April 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for the pictures David!

    I am very interested the final fate of this ship as my father served as the Crescent City’s chief engineer from the beginning of the war until he had to make an emergency trip back to the states in late April 1944. His return at that time was forced by the illness of my 6 year-old little brother who lay dying of tubercular meningitis at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia. My dad hopped aboard a plane out of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal on April 9, 1944 and island hopped to Hawaii. Then PAA to the mainland. In SFO he was reassigned to a new ship under construction in the 8th Naval District (New Orleans) so that he could more easily commute to Portsmouth to attend to an escalating family emergency.

    These pictures of her final Panama Canal transit are a treasure I will save for my family.

  24. Robert Fuller

    May 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    It is with great sadness that I’ve read of the passing of the Crescent City. My father served on her during the early part of WWII through the Guadalcanal campaign until he went stateside to train as a landing boat instructor before heading to England for the Normandy invasion. Luckily he and his shipmates were able to see her one last time at a reunion while she was the Artship. My wife and son were in CA last year and made it a point to drive by and get pictures. I was hoping to be able to do that before she was scrapped, but didn’t make that trip. She was quite a historic ship and her WWII crew were being lead to believe she was being saved. No clue that scrapping her was eminent.

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