SS Argentina (1929)
One of a trio of American-built passenger liners on the US-South America route, the Argentina was owned and operated by Moore-McCormack Steamship Lines and sailed this route until she was laid up in 1958.
Originally built as the "Pennsylvania" for International Mercantile Marine at Newport News Shipyard, VA. She was Hull 329, with Official Number 229044. She was launched 10/10/29 for operation by the Panama Pacific Line, and was built for the New York-Panama-Los Angeles-San Francisco route with her sisters California and Virginia. The Pennsylvania was 613 feet long, 80 feet wide and measured 20,614 gross tons. She carried 750 passengers in first and tourist class; her crew numbered 350. Turbo-electric engines drove her at a service speed of 17 knots. The ships proved too large for this route and their government subsidies were halted in 1937, when they were sold to the U. S. Maritime Commission and laid up.
The U.S. Maritime Commission took the 3 ships in 1937 and extensively refurbished them for the South American trade. They were then given to the American Republics Line, a subsidiary of Moore-McCormack Lines, to operate for the U. S. as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy". The Pennsylvania was renamed Argentina, the "California" renamed "Uruguay" and the "Virginia" renamed "Brazil". Her passenger load was revised to 500 and one large funnel replaced her smaller two. She was also outfitted to carry 450,000 pounds of cargo, including 95,000 refrigerated. 10/01/38 began her operation as the "SS Argentina". She served on the route until the United States entry into the Second World War. 01/02/42 to 07/01/42 the "Argentina" was returned to the Maritime Commission and was converted to an Army Transport (USAT) for the War Shipping Administration. She sailed under her civilian name. 05/06/46 the "Argentina" was returned for civilian operations. 11/04/46 she went to Bethlehem Steel's 56th St Shipyard, Brooklyn NY for reconversion for liner service. 01/01/46 Moore-McCormack resumed operating her for the Maritime Commission. 08/05/58 she was de-activated and laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet. In 1964 the "Argentina" was sold to Peck Iron and Metals, Norfolk, VA for scrap; then subsequently sold again to Luna Bros and scrapped in Kearny, NJ.
World War Two and post-war career
From 1942 to 1946, the Argentina and her sisters operated as troopships. The Argentina also arrived in the US on November 16, 1945 with Operation Paperclip scientists and sailed from Southampton to New York (January 26-February 9, 1946) with the first contingent of war brides.
The three ships were restored for passenger service in 1947. Argentina resumed her US-South America route until 1958, when Moore-McCormack commissioned a brand-new Argentina. She was sent to the U.S. Maritime Commission's "Reserve Fleet" on the James River in Virginia. She remained there until 1964, when she was sold for scrap in Kearney, NJ.
- A Picture History of American Passenger Ships, William H. Miller
- Passenger Liners, American Style, William H. Miller