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The Fleets

Baltimore Mail Steamship Company

On 21 March 1930 the United States Postmaster-General awarded the Roosevelt Steamship Company a mail contract for a weekly service from Baltimore and Norfolk to Hamburg, with or without a call at a French port, by five 16 knot passenger-cargo liners ; all having accommodation for 81 tourist class passengers, mostly in rooms with private bath.
At that time, the Roosevelt Steamship Company, presided over by Cermit Roosevelt, and the International Mercantile Marine Company, whose president was P. A. S. Franklin, were closely allied. They founded the Baltimore Mail Steamship Company, which was incorporated in the State of Maryland on 7 July 1930.

The United States Maritime Commission finally decided in 1937 that the Baltimore Mail Steamship Company was a non-essential service. Meanwhile, the Company had applied to the Maritime Commission to run the five ships in the coastal trade between New York and San Francisco via the Panama Canal as replacements for the California, Pennsylvania and Verginia of the Panama Pacific Line wich were running for Moore McCormack between New York and South America.
This was allowed by the US Government and the United States Line, then a subsidiary of the International Mercantile Marine Company, operated the ships under the trade name of Panama Pacific Line.

Many thanks to Henk Jungerius and Ted Finch for their assistance in collecting this data. The following list was extracted from various sources. This is not an all inclusive list but should only be used as a guide. If you would like to know more about a vessel, visit the Ship Descriptions (onsite) or Immigrant Ship web site.

Routes:

  • Baltimore-London or Le Havre-Hamburg
  • Hamburg- Le Havre or Southampton-Baltimore

Funnel:
Yellow with black top and narrow red band.

Fleet:

Vessel Built Years in Service Tons
City of Baltimore 1918 built by Union Iron Works, San Francisco | Completed in 1918 as the single-screw, steel-hulled freighter Steadfast for the United States Shipping Board, 1931, acquired by the Baltimore Mail Steamship Co. and reconstructed and lengthened renamed City of Baltimore, 1938 sold to Panama-Pacific Line not renamed, 1940 acquired by US Navy renamed Heywood and used as a troop transportship, 1946 in Reserve Fleet, 1957 scrapped. 8,424
City of Hamburg 1919 built by Union Iron Works, San Francisco | Laid-down for the British government as War Surf,but the ship was completed in 1920 as the single-screw, steel-hulled freighter Eclipse for the United States Shipping Board, 1930 acquired by the Baltimore Mail Steamship Co. and reconstructed and lengthened renamed City of Hamburg, 1938 sold to Panama-Pacific Line and renamed City of San Francisco, 1940 acquired by US Navy renamed William P. Biddle and used as a troop transportship, 1946 in Reserve Fleet, 1957 scrapped. 8,424
City of Havre 1918 built by Union Iron Works, San Francisco | Laid-down for the British government as War Haven,but the ship was completed in 1921 as the single-screw, steel-hulled freighter Victorious for the United States Shipping Board, 1931, acquired by the Baltimore Mail Steamship Co. and reconstructed and lengthened renamed City of Havre, 1938 sold to Panama-Pacific Line renamed City of Los Angeles, 1940 acquired by US Navy renamed George F. Elliot and used as a troop transportship, 1942 sunk by Japanese crippled warplane off Savo Island. 8,424
City of Newport News 1918 built by Union Iron Works, San Francisco | Laid-down for the British government as War Wave, but completed in 1921 as the single-screw, steel-hulled freighter Archer for the United States Shipping Board, 1931, acquired by the Baltimore Mail Steamship Co. and reconstructed and lengthened renamed City of Newport News, 1938 sold to Panama-Pacific Line not renamed, 1940 acquired by US Navy renamed Fuller and used as a troop transportship, 1946 in Reserve Fleet, 1957 scrapped. 8,424
City of Norfolk 1918 built by Union Iron Works, San Francisco | Laid-down for the British government as War Harbour, but the ship was completed in 1921 as the single-screw, steel-hulled freighter Independence for the United States Shipping Board, 1930, acquired by the Baltimore Mail Steamship Co. and reconstructed and lengthened renamed City of Norfolk, 1938 sold to Panama-Pacific Line not renamed, 1940 acquired by US Navy renamed Nelville and used as a troop transportship, 1946 in Reserve Fleet, 1957 scrapped. 8,424

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Last updated: January 17, 2006 and maintained by and M. Kohli