Posted on Friday, June 22, 2012 by Peter Knego
This has been yet another a painful year for vintage ship lovers. Like giant magnets, various Asian scrapyards have been pulling the few remaining vintage ships out from their anchorages for recycling into re-bar.
This week, Louis Cruises, after years of seeking a trading buyer, has sold the 1958-built THE EMERALD (ex SANTA ROSA, DIAMOND ISLAND, REGENT RAINBOW) for $5 million to an undisclosed scrap merchant. It is expected that the ship will depart her Eleusis anchorage shortly. Designed by William Francis Gibbs for Grace Line, she was not only the last American-built ocean liner but the last one to survive — aside from the dormant SS UNITED STATES, which has not moved under her own power since 1969.
Last weekend, after de-storing in Yokohama, Peaceboat’s SS THE OCEANIC (ex OCEANIC, STARSHIP OCEANIC) arrived at Zhoushan, China for scrapping. She is the final remnant of Italy’s “Golden Age” of liners and cruise ships built at the famed Cantieri Riuniti dell’Adriatico shipyard in Monfalcone in the early-to-mid 1960s. The first ship with a magrodome-enclosed pool and one of the first to sport verandah cabins, THE OCEANIC has led a remarkable, relatively untarnished career until recently. High fuel prices and the need for costly mechanical repairs finally did her in. With the demise of THE EMERALD and THE OCEANIC, there is only one steam-powered cruise ship left, the laid up ATLANTIC STAR (ex FAIRSKY) of 1984.
Meanwhile, three other former Italian beauties languish in varying stages of demolition at Alang, India. 60 years after her debut in 1952, the eviscerated remains of PHILIPPINE (ex AUGUSTUS) are still being cut down in a slow process that began in January, several months after the ship’s arrival.
The much smaller OCEAN MIST (ex SAN GIORGIO), which arrived in March, is now mostly gone and the ship’s one-time fleetmate, ASPIRE (which sailed under the Ocean Cruises banner as the OCEAN PRINCESS while the OCEAN MIST was named OCEAN ISLANDER), arrived in late May. The 1967-built ASPIRE is also known for her career as Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises sleek ITALIA.
Another ship that was sold for scrap earlier this year but which won a temporary reprieve when the Turkish buyer failed to complete payment, is the PACIFIC. Built in 1971 as the SEA VENTURE but renowned for her career as Princess Cruises “Love Boat” PACIFIC PRINCESS, the ship is still at Genoa’s San Giorgio del Porto shipyard after a possible sale to new buyers took place last month. PACIFIC was badly deteriorated but in the midst of a costly renovation when work stopped in 2008. It is not known whether her new owners will refurbish her or sell her off to another scrapper. For more on the PACIFIC, click here to read about Peter Knego’s recent visit to the ship.
For updates on AUGUSTUS items rescued from Alang, please see the MidShipCentury Facebook page.