S.S. Atlanta City

The place to post about State Marine - Isthmian Lines, including memories, sea stories, shipmate searches, research finds, information requests... whatever.

S.S. Atlanta City

Frenchie5331
Slow Ahead
Joined: 17 Sep 2017, 19:17

18 Sep 2017, 02:37 #1

S.S. Atlanta City, under command of Captain Karl Weikel, June 19-December 10, 1947. I boarded this ship as an ordinary seaman at the age of 16,for what was supposed to be a summer job but ended up lasting nearly six months. Our crew was an international mix with some expatriates from the Spanish civil war and others from various Asian countries. This was understandable not long after WWII. On this particular cruise we called at nineteen ports thoughout the near and far east, starting with our first call at Haifa, Palestine (Israel) and as far east as Calcutta, India. Cargo varied from US Mail to milk trucks and consumer goods of all types. I was fortunate in being assigned to the 4-8 watch while enroute. Many stories could be told of the adventures experienced during those six months.
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Jeff Kozel
Ramming Speed
Joined: 18 Nov 2005, 16:28

18 Sep 2017, 21:51 #2

Frenchie5331 @ Sep 17 2017, 10:37 PM wrote:... Many stories could be told of the adventures experienced during those six months.

Welcome to the FORUM. We'd love to read of your adventures.
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Frenchie5331
Slow Ahead
Joined: 17 Sep 2017, 19:17

19 Sep 2017, 03:50 #3

Seventy-one years ago, our first port of call aboard the S.S. Atlanta City was at Haifa, Palestine. Anchored in the harbor, we were not permitted to go ashore due to the war between the Arabs and the Jews, July 1947. At the time, I was sixteen but I had experienced war before.

Born in France in 1931, I was living in Le Havre on the English channel in the spring of 1940, when the Germans invaded. They were bombing and mining the harbor there. Escaped in June 1940. So the night sounds of explosions and machine gun fire in the hills above Haifa, were not a new experience for me. However, they were still frightening. The combat pay we received was a small reward.
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Jeff Kozel
Ramming Speed
Joined: 18 Nov 2005, 16:28

20 Sep 2017, 19:52 #4

Excellent start. Eager to read more.
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Frenchie5331
Slow Ahead
Joined: 17 Sep 2017, 19:17

23 Sep 2017, 21:35 #5

Continuing on from Haifa, our next anchorage was Jaffa, the Arab port used to supply Tel Aviv. I was awestruck by the modern buildings, sidewalk cafes along the coastline and the apparent "joies de vivre" of the people. On to Suez and the "canal". Awaiting the pilot who would guide us through the canal, our ship was invaded by the "bumb boats", entrepreneurs trying to sell merchandise, none of which was worth what little money we might have had. Passage through the canal was made at night so didn't get to see much of its historical wonders. On to Jiddah, Saudi Arabia - the portal to Mecca. Another adventurous soul and I thought we would venture toward that Holy site. Needless to say, we were quickly thwarted from our journey to the forbidden city (for non-believers). It was so hot that many of the items for sale by the local vendors were worthless. The two of us happened upon the local American Consulate, went in to beg for some cold water to drink. If I recall correctly, the vice consul there knew my father who, at that time was the American Consul in Saint John, NB Canada. He was how I got my job as a seaman in the first place. Stops followed at Djibouti and Massawa, Eritrea. Today's infamous pirate hideaways on the Red Sea. Around the "bend" and up toward the Persian Gulf with port calls at Bahrein Islands; Ras-a-tanura, Saudi Arabia; Basra, Iraq; Khorramshar and Abadan, Iran on the Euphrates river. While docked on the river we suffered the hottest temperatures I was to ever experience - the steel deck on which we had placed our cots under a canvas tarpaulin - well above the mid 160 degrees for days at a time. We were unable to work and lay in our cots totally immobile. In the evening we might wander into town, to the Seamen's Club until curfew. One late afternoon I was fishing over the side of the ship and hooked on to a six foot shark. It took a major effort from several of us to haul it aboard.
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Skip Lewis
Ramming Speed
Joined: 18 Nov 2005, 16:26

29 Sep 2017, 13:58 #6

Great travelogue. Hope the trip continues for us.
I remember my Father saying his white uniform shirts would turn brown in the drawers from the heat. He didn't stay on the Persian Gulf run for very long, preferring India for its "milder" climate.

Welcome aboard!
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Frenchie5331
Slow Ahead
Joined: 17 Sep 2017, 19:17

12 Oct 2017, 00:58 #7

Calcutta (Kidapore) was our last port where we took on cargo for return to the US of A, sometime in October, 1947. However, we did stop for fresh food in Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and , later at Aden Protectorate (Yemen) for oil and more food replenishment. It was a long haul duplicating our outbound routing on the return toward home. In the middle of the Atlantic, one night, we had to rendezvous with a Military Hospital Ship to transfer a member of our crew who had contracted cholera while we were in India. I don't think he made it as he was pretty far gone. He was an ex-patriate Spaniard who had been at sea since the end of the revolution (1939). He had lost his family and had no home to return to in Spain. We continued on to Savannah, Georgia for our first stateside port stop.
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