|The largest ever Chandris liner became famous in Australia as one of the biggest migrant ships serving the South Pacific. Earlier in her life, she was also famous in the USA, as their largest liner, America, and as the troopship USS West Point which could carry over 8000 soldiers in World War II.|
America of the United States Line
|The America was another famous US passenger liner ship designed by William Francis Gibbs. The liner was launched by Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt on 31 August 1939 and was the largest American ship built, catering for 543 first class, 418 tourist class and 241 third class passengers.Because of the War, America was unable to make her maiden voyage across the Atlantic and her first service was a cruise to the Caribbean, departing New York on 10 August 1940. The ship continued cruising until July 1941 when she was recquisitioned by the US Navy and refitted as a troop transport.Renamed USS West Point, the ship took part in a convoy half way around the world, eventually voyaging to Singapore where the Japanese forces were approaching. While anchored off Singapore, West Point was attacked by enemy aircraft and her troops were rerouted to Bombay before West Point sailed to Egypt to pick up Australian troops to be transported to the new Pacific front.West Point continued her war service until July 1946 when she was refitted for passenger services, with accommodation being altered to carry 516 first class, 371 cabin class and 159 tourist class passengers. She departed New York on 14 November 1956 en route to Southampton and Le Havre. In late 1951, the America’s voyages were extended to Bremen and she continued this route for the next thirteen years, for the last twelve of them in partnership with her newer and bigger sister, the United States, which broke transatlantic speed records and took the Blue Riband when she commenced services in mid 1952.In September 1963, the America suffered from an engineer’s strike and she was unable to resume services until February 1964. Her schedule was cut short only eight months later when her operating costs proved too high to justify continuing her service. She made her final (288th) Atlantic voyage from New York on 27 October, bound for Bremen.Only a few days after the conclusion of this voyage, many American’s were shocked to hear that the ship had been quickly sold to Chandris Lines.
Australis of the Chandris Line
After being renamed Australis (Australian maiden) by Chandris, the ship was extensively refitted in Piraeus with air-conditioning being added and accommodation doubling to carry 2258 passengers in one class. In addition, her hull was painted white and and her funnels painted Blue with the traditional Chandris ‘X’ in white.Australis commenced her maiden voyage, from Piraeus to Sydney, on 21 August 1965 and returned to Southampton via the Pacific and the Caribbean. After this, her regular route would be from Southampton to Australia (and sometimes New Zealand) via the Suez Canal.Her voyages were re-routed around South Africa from 1967 due to the closure of the Suez, and her future looked bright when Chandris Lines won the government contract to transport British migrants to Australia in 1970. This trade declined dramatically, however, over the next half of the decade and, by 1976, the Australis was the last liner sailing regularly between England and Australia.Australis’ last voyage to Australia departed Southampton on 18 November 1977; the 650 migrants on board were the last to travel to Australia by sea, and Australis was laid up in Timaru, New Zealand before the end of the year.From this time, there were numerous rumours concerning the sale of the ship to other companies or ship-breakers but early in 1978, Australis was bought by America Cruise Lines, a new company, for $5 million.
America of Venture Cruise Lines
In May 1979, Australis sailed into New York, going into drydock for a major refurbishment. Her hull was repainted dark blue with funnels of the same colour also having a red band. She was renamed America at the same time the America Cruise Lines changed their own name to Venture Cruise Lines.In June 1978, America left New York on a three day cruise, which turned to disaster when passengers complained about unfinished facilities on the ship. Only six hours out of port, the ship was forced to turn back and disembarked 250 unhappy passengers by lifeboats. Subsequent cruises also suffered from problems and on 18 July America was arrested by the District Court. Venture Cruises ceased operation a few days after this and America was laid up. Two months later, the America was auctioned off and the surprise winning bid came from Chandris Lines, who made a cool four million dollar profit when they were successful with their $1 million bid.
America was re-fitted in Piraeus in 1979 with the removal of the dummy forward funnel being the most noticeable change. The ship was renamed Italis and she departed Genoa on 28 July on the first of three Meditteranean cruises. However, in September, Australis was again laid up and she was put on the market and sold to Inter Commerce Corp, for use as a floating hotel.
The America/Australis. Her End
Inter Commerce Corp had planned to convert the Italis to a hotel for Lagos and the ship was renamed Noga. However the ship remained laid up and the ship was sold to Silver Moon Ferries.Silver Moon renamed Noga as Alferdoss but the ship did not return to immediate service as her periods laid up had badly damaged the hull of the ship. In 1988, near Piraeus. Alferdoss had to be run aground to stop her sinking. This is an unofficial, non-profit, just-for-fun, page but is © 1995 – 2002 by Graham Thomas