Saturday, June 9, 2007

Old Ships online

Decide to Google the Lloyd Triestino Victoria tonight to see what I could find. That was the former name of the Anastasis when Mercy Ships purchased her. Here's the link to a page about the Victoria and sister ship Asia. The brochure called it a 'small but complete floating city.' Today when we show people around the ship, we mention that it is a floating village or town. On the Africa Mercy we even have an open, two-deck area that is called town-center.

Going back a bit earlier, I also sought pictures of the ships on which my ancestors emigrated from Hungary. OK, Hungary is landlocked, but they travelled over to Fiume, Italy and caught the ship there. My then 12-year old great-grandmother arrived at Ellis Island on the Cunard Pannonia in 1909. Her father had traveled over two years earlier on the Cunard Ultonia. A few years ago I discovered that the Ultonia was built in the Swan-Hunter yard on the Tyne, right next door and across the river from the A&P Tyne yards where the Africa Mercy underwent her refit. Both ships (toward bottom of the linked page), slightly shorter and smaller than the Anastasis, had capacities of 40 first-class passengers and 800 third class passengers. Those could NOT have been pleasant transatlantic journeys.

Speaking of the Africa Mercy, here are some earlier pictures from her years as the Danish rail ferry, Dronning Ingrid. There are a few that show the bow open and the rail deck visible. The rail deck now contains the hospital as well as offices for Community Development and Church Empowerment plus accommodations for many short-term crew. A new deck just above that houses cabins for more crew.

Anyway, I initiated tonight's searches because I just started reading Bob Welch's American Nightingale, about Frances Slanger, a US Army nurse who died at Normandy. She was a Polish Jew who immigrated to the US after World Ward I. I wanted to look up information about the Liberty ships that transported troops, some of which were built in as little as two weeks. Given the history of the refit of the Africa Mercy, I was curious. They emphasized function over form. President Roosevelt's observation about the Liberty could have been made about the Africa Mercy: "She isn't much to look at though, is she? A real ugly duckling." (pg. 6).

Back to the book...

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