Panama Pacific Line

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SS Kroonland transits the Panama Canal in 1915. Kroonland in Panama Canal, 1915.jpg
SS Kroonland transits the Panama Canal in 1915.

Panama Pacific Line was a subsidiary of International Mercantile Marine (IMM) established to carry passengers and freight between the US East and West Coasts via the Panama Canal. [1]


Although IMM had begun preparations for this intercoastal service as far back as 1911, [2] service began in May 1915 with the former Red Star Line (another IMM subsidiary line) ships Kroonland and Finland. [1] [3] When landslides in September 1915 closed the canal for an extended time, Kroonland and Finland were reassigned to the IMM's American Line. [4] The outbreak of World War I and its strain on international shipping caused the intercoastal service to be suspended.

Manchuria at New municipal pier, San Diego, California 1925 where increased demand made San Diego a Panama Pacific port of call. SS MANCHURIA at new municipal pier, San Diego 1925.png
Manchuria at New municipal pier, San Diego, California 1925 where increased demand made San Diego a Panama Pacific port of call.

In 1923 Kroonland and Finland were returned to the reinstated intercoastal route along with the American Line passenger steamer Manchuria. [5] [6] Manchuria's sister ship Mongolia supplanted Kroonland on the route in 1925. [7]

Three ships with steam turbo generators and turbo-electric transmissionCalifornia, Virginia and Pennsylvania — came into service in 1928–29, replacing all the other ships on the intercoastal service. These three newest ships included a drive-on service for passengers' automobiles,[ citation needed ] which allowed passengers to disembark with their cars at ports of call, such as Havana, a stop added in the early 1930s.

In 1936 California, docked at San Pedro, California, was the setting for the SS California strike, which contributed to the demise of the International Seamen's Union and the creation of the National Maritime Union.

In June 1937 the United States Congress withdrew all maritime mail subsidies, which by then included a total of $450,000 per year to Panama Pacific for its three liners. [8] At the beginning of March 1938 the Panama Canal tolls were revised, increasing Panama Pacific's costs by $37,000 per year. [8] As a result of these cost increases and continuing labor difficulties, Panama Pacific ended its New York – California service and took all three liners out of service. [8] California was the last to leave service, joining Pennsylvania and Virginia in New York at the beginning of May 1938. [8] The United States Maritime Commission took over the three liners and transferred them to Moore-McCormack Lines to start a New York — River Plate service under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor policy.

Ships of the Panama Pacific Line

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SS <i>Mongolia</i> (1903)

SS Mongolia was a 13,369-ton passenger-and-cargo liner originally built for Pacific Mail Steamship Company in 1904. She later sailed as USS Mongolia (ID-1615) for the U.S. Navy, as SS President Fillmore for the Dollar Line and as SS Panamanian for Cia Transatlantica Centroamericano.

SS <i>Argentina</i> (1929)

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SS <i>California</i> (1927)

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SS California may refer to:

SS <i>Finland</i> (1902)

SS Finland was an American-flagged ocean liner built in 1902 for the Red Star Line. During World War I she served as a transport for the United States Navy named USS Finland (ID-4543). Before her Navy service in 1917, she was also USAT Finland for the United States Army.

SS <i>Kroonland</i> American steamship (1902–1927)

SS Kroonland was an ocean liner for International Mercantile Marine (IMM) from her launch in 1902 until she was scrapped in 1927. Kroonland was the sister ship of Finland and a near sister ship of Vaderland and Zeeland of the same company. Kroonland sailed for IMM's Red Star Line for 15 years, and also sailed for IMM's American Line and Panama Pacific Line. During World War I, the ship served as United States Army transport USAT Kroonland through April 1918, and as the Navy auxiliary USS Kroonland (ID-1541) from April 1918 to October 1919.

SS <i>La Touraine</i>

SS La Touraine was an ocean liner that sailed for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique from the 1890s to the 1920s. Built in France in 1891, she was primarily employed in transatlantic service on the North Atlantic. The liner was scrapped in Dunkirk in October 1923.

SS <i>Vaderland</i> (1900)

SS Vaderland was an ocean liner launched in July 1900 for the Red Star Line service between Antwerp and New York. During her passenger career, the ship initially sailed under British registry, but was re-registered in Antwerp in 1903. Vaderland was a sister ship to Zeeland and a near sister ship to Kroonland and Finland.

SS <i>Zeeland</i> (1900)

SS Zeeland was a British and Belgian ocean liner of the International Mercantile Marine Co. (IMM). She was a sister ship to Vaderland and a near sister ship to Kroonland and Finland of the same company. Although her name was Dutch, it was changed during World War I to the less German-sounding SS Northland. She served for a time as a British troop ship under the name HMT Northland. Reverting to Zeeland after the war, the ship was renamed SS Minnesota late in her career. Zeeland sailed primarily for IMM's Red Star Line for most of her early career, but also sailed under charter for the White Star Line, the International Navigation Company, the American Line, and the Atlantic Transport Line, all IMM subsidiary lines. The pursers safe survived the scrapyard at Inverkeithing and after residing in a wardrobe for 80 years is currently on display in a local private home.

SS <i>Manchuria</i> (1903)

SS Manchuria was a passenger and cargo liner launched 1903 for the San Francisco-trans Pacific service of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. During World War I the ship was commissioned 25 April 1918–11 September 1919 for United States Navy service as USS Manchuria (ID-1633). After return to civilian service the ship was acquired by the Dollar Steamship Line in 1928 until that line suffered financial difficulties in 1938 and ownership of Manchuria was taken over by the United States Maritime Commission which chartered the ship to American President Lines which operated her as President Johnson. During World War II she operated as a War Shipping Administration transport with American President Lines its agent allocated to United States Army requirements. After World War II, she was returned to American President Lines, sold and renamed Santa Cruz. The liner was scrapped in Italy in 1952.

SS <i>Iowan</i>

SS Iowan was a cargo ship built in 1914 for the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. During World War I she was taken over by the United States Navy and commissioned as USS Iowan (ID-3002). During World War II, the ship was transferred to the Soviet Union and renamed SS Tashkent.

SS <i>Merion</i>

SS Merion was an ocean liner built in 1902 for the American Line, a subsidiary line of the International Mercantile Marine (IMM). She also sailed for the Red Star Line and the Dominion Line—both subsidiary lines of IMM—during her passenger career. After the outbreak of World War I she was bought by the British Admiralty and converted to serve as a decoy resembling the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Tiger. In May 1915, while posing as Tiger in the Aegean Sea, Merion was sunk by the German submarine SM UB-8.

RMS <i>Saxonia</i> (1899)

The first RMS Saxonia was a passenger ship of the British Cunard Line. Between 1900 and 1925, Saxonia operated on North Atlantic and Mediterranean passenger routes, and she saw military service during World War I (1914–1918).

SS <i>Santa Paula</i> (1932)

SS Santa Paula was a passenger and cargo ocean liner built for the Grace Line. She was the second of four sister ships ordered in 1930 from the Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company of Kearny, NJ. Her regular service route included inter-coastal service between the east coast and the west coast of the USA via the Caribbean and the Panama Canal. She later sailed on cruises from New York to the Caribbean and South America. She was the second of three vessels to bear the name Santa Paula for Grace Line service.

SS <i>Brazil</i> (1928)

SS Brazil was a US turbo-electric ocean liner. She was completed in 1928 as Virginia, and refitted and renamed Brazil in 1938. From 1942 to 1946 she was the War Shipping Administration operated troopship Brazil. She was laid up in 1958 and scrapped in 1964.

SS <i>Sierra Cordoba</i> (1913)

SS Sierra Cordoba was a Norddeutscher Lloyd passenger and cargo ship completed 1913 by AG Vulcan Stettin. The ship operated between Bremen and Buenos Aires on the line's South American service and was equipped with wireless and "submarine sounding apparatus" with accommodations for 116 first class, 74 second class and 1,270 "between decks" passengers. A description after the ship had been seized and restored in 1919 noted she was among the fastest and best equipped ships of the line with accommodations for 115 first class passengers and 1,572 third and steerage class passengers as well as a crew of 179 officers and men.

SS <i>Corvus</i> (1919)

Corvus was a steam cargo ship built in 1919 by Columbia River Shipbuilding Company of Portland for the United States Shipping Board as part of the wartime shipbuilding program of the Emergency Fleet Corporation (EFC) to restore the nation's Merchant Marine. The freighter was operated on international and domestic routes through 1944. Early in 1945 she was transferred to Soviet Union as part of lend-lease program. After several months of operation, the freighter was rammed by another vessel on 31 May 1945 and was beached to avoid sinking. She was subsequently raised and towed to Portland where she was scrapped in 1946.


  1. 1 2 Tomán 1978 , p. 62
  2. "Red Star Line ships added to the U.S. Merchant Marine". The Christian Science Monitor . 27 December 1911. p. 1.
  3. Bonsor 1978, p. 856.
  4. "Steamer Finland, in canal service, to go to Europe". The Christian Science Monitor. 23 October 1915. p. 8.
  5. "Two large ships will come here". Los Angeles Times . 30 April 1923. p. II-22.
  6. "I.M.M. Panama-Pacific Line". The Wall Street Journal . 22 June 1923. p. 3.
  7. "Globe-circling vessel due at harbor today". Los Angeles Times. 15 December 1924. p. 17.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Panama Pacific Lines finished". Time . Michael L Grace. 9 May 1938. Retrieved 25 May 2013.