SS Independence

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SS Oceanic towed out of San Francisco.
Name: 1951—1974: Independence
1974: Oceanic Independence
1974—1975: Sea Luck I
1975—1982 Oceanic Independence
1982—2006: Independence
2006—2009: Oceanic
2009—present: Platinum II
Owner: 1951—1974: American Export Lines
1974—1979: Atlantic Far East Lines
1989—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2003: United States Maritime Administration[citation needed]
2003—2005: California Manufacturing Corp
2005: Norwegian Cruise Line
2005—present: California Manufacturing Corp[1]
Operator: 1951—1969: American Export Lines
1969—1974: laid up
1974—1976: Atlantic Far East Lines
1976—1980: laid up/rebuilt
1980—1982: American Hawaii Cruises
1982—1996: American Global Line
1996—2001: American Hawaii Cruises
2001—2008: laid up[1]
Port of registry: 1951—1974: New York,  United States
1974—1979: Panama City, 22x20px Panama
1979—present: Honolulu,  United States[1]
Ordered: 1950[citation needed]
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA
Yard number: 1618[1]
Laid down: 1950[citation needed]
Launched: 3 June 1950[1]
Completed: 1951
Acquired: 22 January 1951[1]
Maiden voyage: 10 February 1951[1]
In service: 1951—1969, 1974—1976, 1980—2001
Out of service: 2001
Identification: IMO number: 5160180[1]
Fate: wrecked
Status: aground
Notes: one of the last US flagged liners
General characteristics (as built)[1]
Type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 23,719 gross register tons (GRT)
Displacement: 7,250 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
Length: 208.01 m (682.45 ft)
Beam: 27.18 m (89.17 ft)
Draft: 9.20 m (30.18 ft)
Decks: 12[citation needed]
Installed power: 2 × Bethlehem Steel Corporation steam turbines
combined 40456 kW
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h)
Capacity: 1000 passengers
General characteristics (after 1959 refit)[1]
Type: Cruise ship
Tonnage: 23,754 GRT
Capacity: 395 passengers
General characteristics (after 1974 refit)[1]
Capacity: 950 passengers
General characteristics (after 1980 refit)[1]
Tonnage: 20,221 GRT
Capacity: 1073 passengers

SS Independence is an ocean liner built in 1951 by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA for American Export Lines. In 1959, Independence was rebuilt as a cruise ship. Between 1974 and 1982 she sailed as SS Oceanic Independence, after which she reverted to her original name. Since 2006 the ship has been named SS Oceanic. On 8 February 2008, after being mothballed for seven years, SS Oceanic left San Francisco for Singapore, renamed Platinum-ii, and sank grounded after illegal beaching at Alang[2]. She is currently aground and unmoveable making beaching at Alang impossible[3].

SS Independence was a sister ship to the SS Constitution, which sank while under tow en route to be scrapped in 1997.

American Export Lines

SS Independence, 23,719 GRT, and the 23,754 GRT, SS Constitution where built for the American Export Lines to operate on the US Mediterranean service. She was constructed in yard 1618 of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy Mass USA. She was launched on June 3, 1950 and completed January 1951. Both ships sported black hulls and American export lines funnel colors. SS Independence departed on her maiden voyage, being a cruise to the Mediterranean, on February 11. On April 12 she departed her first liner voyage from New York to Genoa, later the route was changed to New York to Naples.In 1959, both ships were sent to Newport News, where their forward superstructure was moved 22 feet forward and lifted up by one deck, in order to increase First Class passenger capacity by more than 100 berths. Sadly, the reconstruction changed the previously well balanced, graceful look, especially with the loss of half of the glass enclosed promenade deck and the added height forward. Accommodations were now listed as 484 First Class, 350 Cabin Class, and 254 Tourist Class passengers. During their heyday, many movies were made onboard with such stars as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and many others. They also carried high profile passengers such as President Harry Truman, Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, even King Saud. Both ships continued on the Mediterranean run, however, like most Trans-Atlantic liners of the day, passenger numbers dropped and the service was suspended in 1967[4].

Atlantic Far East Line

In January 1974, both the Independence and Constitution were sold to the Atlantic Far East Line Inc., Monrovia, being part of the massive C.Y. Tung group. The Independence was renamed Oceanic Independence and after a refit she commenced cruising, with a new passenger capacity of 950 passengers. However, the Constitution, renamed Oceanic Constitution, was laid up at Hong Kong on August 4, 1974. Oceanic Independence continued to cruise until she was also laid up at Hong Kong on January 17, 1976. In November that year there were rumours that she was to be sold to Shannon SA, of Panama, but, this did not eventuate. Oceanic Independence remained laid up and was renamed Sea Luck I for a short time but soon after renamed Oceanic Independence once more[4].

American Hawaii Cruises

As they were no longer American flagged ships, C.Y. Tung was not able to operate them within American waters. However, in 1979 both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved their return to the States. In 1980, C.Y. Tung transferred the Oceanic Independence to their newly established; US based American Hawaii Cruises Inc. After extensive repairs and a refit at the Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd, Kobe Japan, Oceanic Independence now accommodated 750 one class passengers, and she was listed as being 20,220 GRT. Oceanic Independence departed on her maiden cruise in June, 1980, operating 7-Day cruises around the Hawaiian Islands of Honolulu. On September 24, 1981, she sustained minor damage off the coast of Nawiliwili, however passengers were safely taken from the ship and flown home. In October she was taken to San Francisco for repairs and soon returned to service. In 1982, American Hawaii Cruises Inc became part of the American Global Line, Inc, and to the joy of American’s she became the SS Independence once again. With Independence having been successful in 1980, SS Oceanic Constitution was refitted in Taiwan and departed for Honolulu with a passenger capacity of 1,088, and was listed at 20,199 GRT.Oceanic Constitution was transferred to the American Global Line, Inc, and was re-christened by Princess Grace of Monaco under her original name. SS Constitution commenced cruising out of Honolulu in June 1982. In 1984, her passenger numbers was reduced to 800. Both ships were officially reregistered in Honolulu in 1987. In 1994 Independence was withdrawn from service and she headed to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry dock Company for an extensive refit. However, in April 1996 American Hawaii Cruises decided to retire the forty six year old SS Constitution, which they said was due to her high running costs and renovations required. She was finally laid up due the company’s financial problems. During her lay-up many of her parts were taken and were used on Independence. After her demise of the SS Constitution, her older sister SS Independence became the last US built ocean liner to sail under the American flag. Celebrations were held on board during Independence's 1,000th voyage in August 1999. 2001 bankruptcy of American Hawaii Cruises, the owners of the American Hawaii Line, SS Independence became the property of the US Maritime Administration and sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco, arriving on 8 November 2001.[4]

Norwegian Cruise Line

SS Oceanic (right) laid up at Pier 70 San Francisco, with the Hanjin COSCO Busan under repair next to her, following its collision with the Bay Bridge

In February 2003, Independence was sold at auction for US$4 million to Norwegian Cruise Line, which also acquired SS United States. At this time, NCL received permission to create US flagged cruise operation, to be named NCL America. (US flagging is a valuable competitive advantage, as the Passenger Vessel Service Act prohibits non-US lines from transporting passengers from one US port to another without stopping at a foreign port, and in particular it permits 7-day Hawaii cruises. As US flagging requires US-built ships, no other major cruise operation is US-flagged.)

In mid-2006, Independence was renamed Oceanic, amid speculation she may be scrapped. In July 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Oceanic had been sold with later reports claiming the ship had been purchased by an American company.

Departure from San Francisco

SS Oceanic was towed out of San Francisco Bay on 8 February 2008. Its final destination was revealed to be Singapore, but was changed to Dubai.[citation needed] Rumors had been swirling that the ship was destined for a scrapyard in India or Bangladesh[5], but has been stopped due to a complaint filed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the ship was being towed to a overseas scrap yard.[6].

Global Marketing Systems, last owners of the Oceanic, was fined $518,500 for exporting the ship for scrap without prior removal of toxins such as asbestos and PCBs.[7]

Name change and Departure to Alang

In 2009 SS Oceanic was renamed DV Platinum II and departed Dubai heading for Alang. Platinum II was being towed by a tug named Barakhoda. The tug apparently lost all power and setting the two vessels adrift some 25 km off Alang. Another tug was sent to assist the Barakhoda and her nine crew. Soon the it was found that Platinum II was really SS Oceanic.[7]

Disguise and Rejection from Alang Breaker Yard

In October 2009, a ship claiming to be the "SS Platinum-II" was turned away from the Alang breaker yard in India when it was discovered the ship was actually the SS Oceanic/SS Independence. Indian authorities alleged that it had been renamed and supplied with falsified papers in order to evade regulations on toxic materials.[2][8]

Scrapping at Alang

In a dramatic turn-around after the Ministry of Environment and Forests intervened and gave their approval, granting the PLATINUM II permission to be beached at Alang's shipbreaking yard. After much controversy and with demands that the ship be returned to the U.S. for being illegally exported, PLATINUM II was abandoned at Gopnath in a region south of the Alang on the Gujarat coast. Although PLATINUM II is probably no more toxic than most ships built in the 1950s and 1960s, she was deemed such for the minute amounts of radioactive materials found in her smoke detection systems and for the usual asbestos and PCB's contained in ships of her generation.

According to local sources, PLATINUM II has been laying off shore with guards on board to protect the ship from looting and vandals. Also, reports of the hull being cracked (an unsubstantiated charge made by the ship's owners to urge the Gujarat Maritime Board to allow the ship to be beached in November) appear to have some truth. The tug that delivered the ship into Gujarat waters, the BARRACUDA, may have already been beached for scrapping, so another vessel will probably be required to pull PLATINUM II off the embankment and bring her the short distance to Alang.[7]

Wrecked off Alang

After running aground in February 2010 mud has made it into Platinum II's cracked hull and if more gets inside the ship she may not be able to move. In later news it was found that reports from India claim PLATINUM II (ex INDEPENDENCE, SEA LUCK I, OCEANIC INDEPENDENCE, OCEANIC), aground and abandoned at Gopnath (some ten miles south of Alang), is beginning to suffer structural cracks and it has been said the ship will never be able to move from her current resting place.[3] March 2010. The vessel's hull is cracked aft of the accommodation (roughly at one third of the length from the aft) and the whole hull is lying at an angle of about 35 degrees. There is a guard boat in the area, as well as a floating crane.

Looted under ATS watch

While under investigation by the Gujarati anti terrorist unit for smuggling radioactive, hazardous, and toxic waste to organized crime, SS Independence aka Platinum-II was looted in May-June 2010 during a cyclone.[9]

Other Info

Independence measures 683 feet (208 m) in length and 23,719 gross register tons. She was capable of cruising at 26 knots. She accommodated 1,000 passengers, and was designed to accommodate 5,000 soldiers during wartime[citation needed]. According to Life magazine, "It will house passengers in Henry Dreyfuss-designed cabins, apartments, and 'penthouses,' keep their shipboard spirits up with branches of Fifth Avenue shops, handsome public rooms and bars decorated with old tattoo designs, collections of ships in bottles and Early American silver. Late American devices include 125 feet (38 m) of picture windows in the observation lounge, polarized glass in portholes to control light and glare, and bedside telephones from which a passenger can phone anyone within 5,000 miles."[10]

See also


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