The SS America was a grand passenger ship that was put into the sea on August 31, 1939. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt christened this vessel. Proudly made in America by William Francis Gibbs, she was a strong ship. Women designed the inside of the SS America. On August 10, 1940, she made her maiden voyage. August 31, 2017 will mark the 78th anniversary of the SS America’s launching.
More than a passenger ship, the SS American proudly served America during World War II. Called to military duty on June 1, 1941, her name was changed to USS West Point. On June 6, 1941, she sailed to the Norfolk Ship Yards for her conversion as a service ship.
Captain Frank Jr. successfully commanded the USS West Point. During her transformation, she was furnished with anti-aircraft weapons. Her troop-carrying capability was augmented to 7,678. Her windows were covered. She was painted gray thus acquiring the moniker, “The Grey Ghost.” Her mission during World War II was to carry armed forces and supplies.
Even she was not a combat ship, she faced danger during World War II. In January 1942, Japanese airplanes bombed the USS West Point. Fortunately, they missed her. There were also air blasts in the Red Sea and at Port Suez directly aimed at this ship. She also had several close calls with submarines.
Throughout her illustrious career, she transported 350,000 troops. She set a record for carrying the greatest amount of troops. Besides carrying military personnel, she also transported Red Cross workers, United Nations officials, youngsters, citizens, prisoners of war and U.S.O entertainers. She never lost one traveler. As a result of her outstanding service, she received many awards.
On February 22, 1946, the USS West Point’s military service ended. After World War II, she became a passenger ship once again. Since she worked for several ocean liners, she had different names. She was called SS Australia, SS Italis, SS Noga, SS Alferdoss and the SS American Star.
On November 1948, Madeleine Albright fled Europe, with her family, sailing to the United States on the SS America. She would become the first female Secretary of State of the United States.
While serving as a passenger ship, the SS American Star sank at 6:15 am on January 18, 1994 at Playa de Garcey on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. The cause of her wreck was the result of sailing into a thunderstorm and breaking her tow-lines. Crewmen were unable to fasten her tow-lines. On January 17, 1994, the crew of the SS American Star was salvaged by helicopter. However, SS American star was left unmoored.