Preservation of SS Lurline


Dec 12, 1999
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In one of the closed threads ("Britannic") there was a discussion about the preservation of old steamships, among them, the former Matson Lines "Lurline."

Lurline, built in 1931, had been planned to become a posh hotel for San Francisco (near Pier 39), like the Queen Mary in Long Beach. However, the owners decided last July 22 to have her towed to India to be scrapped. A Russian tugboat picked her up from a dock in Tampa, and started on the journey.

The Oceanic Steamship Navigation Company of Walnut Creek is purportedly trying to preserve the ship still. When I called to ask if the Lurline would indeed be scrapped, or even asked where it was, they refused to talk to me because "everything is confidential."

If the Lurline were going to the Pakistani scrap yard, it would be there by now. In truth, I expect that Lurline may make it back to San Francisco - after all. Further, if Lurline does make it back here, we'll have to set up Titanic group meetings aboard her - - just like Mike Herbold's group is doing aboard the Queen Mary.
 

Erik Wood

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Good Morning Joe,

I am a Captain Currently I started my sea going career with Matson as did my family and I have a large interest in the Lurline. I will send out my fingers and see what I can find out. But I do believe from what I have read plus just seamans scuttlebutt says that you are right but I will try to find out more details for you.

Erik
 

Mike Herbold

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Erik:
While you are at it, can you use your sources to check another item? Phil Gowan has proved that survivor William Henry Tornquist (or Turnquist), who lived much of his life in California, definitely was a captain with Matson Lines. But Joe Shomi had heard somewhere that Tornquist might have been Captain of the Lurline.

Is it possible to find out which ships Tornquist did captain? Also, whether Matson used the spelling Tornquist or Turnquist? Incidentally, my late father-in-law and mother-in-law sailed on her a few times to Hawaii in the late 60's, so I have a Titanic and personal interest in this one.

It's really nice to have you and Michael Standart aboard ET. You've both rejuvenated the discussion board and added the salt that we landlubbers didn't even know was missing.

Joe:
I can't take credit for the Queen Mary group. John Clifford, who usually hangs out on a few different Titanic discussion boards, is the one who organizes them. We've got another coming up October 1st, and I'll post the details soon. Come on down !!
 

Erik Wood

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No problem, I shall do so. My great grandfather made the unions for Matson on the west coast and my grand father sailed the Lurline as a Quartermaster. I will do some checking. It might take a bit of detective work but I will find out.

Erik
 
Dec 12, 1999
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As of August 30, 2000, the Lurline was held up in a Brazilian port, for repairs. Accordingly to Maritime News, she developed leaks on her journey to the scrappers in India. After repairs are completed, the insurer will inspect the ship for seaworthiness before she continues. Sounds more to me like "We have a new investor, who wants to inspect the ship before putting up any money. Meanwhile, we'll park it in a cheap port. Then, if everything goes well, we will take it back through the Panama Canal to San Francisco!" I don't undestand what's the big problem. Maybe it really is the ship's deteriorating condition. The HAL's Ryndam II became a casino in Gulfport, MI, and has been highly successful. The City's hotel space is frequently booked up. It seems to me that investment in a nostalgic hotel casino ship along the San Francisco wharf would have pretty high returns, and that they would be generated much more quickly than by building another hotel.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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G'Day Joe. I can't say as the leaks surprise me much. Remember were talking about a 69 year old ship that spent nearly all of her operational life in the harsh and unforgiving environment of salt water. A ship is a very maintainance intewnsive machine which requires constant attention to keep going, and occassional refits to fix all the things that break that the crew cannot deal with...to say nothing of desperately and frequently needed hull work that can only be accomplished in a drydock. I've had to do preventative maintainance and I've been through several refits including two drydockings so I know this all too well.

I wouldn't get my hopes up about the investor until you see a prospectus in writing and an offer on the table either. I'm confident that the inspector came along for exactly the reason stated; to make sure the hull is seaworthy befor continueing the tow. If she sank under tow...and it happens too(The Harald of Free Enterprise sank under tow to the scrapyard)...somebody stands to lose a chunk of money from what could have been recovered from the hull as it was being dismantled

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Joe,

I hate say but my sources say that the Lurline is headed for death row. There is an investor but the latest round of leaks plus the estimate on getting her a musem quality, I fear may spell her end. She has had a long and wonderful life but I think it is over. As for your question about a Tourquinst. I need a first name and a rough time of when you think he may have been master of the Lurline. I found 7 officers with that name on the Matson books. Only 3 made Captain and one still serves.

Erik
 

Mike Herbold

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Erik:
See 3rd class passenger Tornquist's biography here on ET.
William Henry Turnquist
Born: March 25, 1886, Stockholm, Sweden
Died: September 13, 1946, Long Beach, California
His actual residence when he died was 1900 Vallejo St., San Francisco, California
He was also a veteran from WWI and WWII.
 

Erik Wood

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No William Henry Turnquist but the other ones where spelled with Tournquist. That could be an error though. I have to look again but I do believe that there was a Chief Mate with W.T. as the beginning letters of the name. I am still trying to find out for sure about the Lurline but I think she is a lost cause.

Erik
 

Mike Herbold

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Erik:
It was also spelled Tornquist, so maybe Tournquist is a possibility. Agree on the Lurline - that seems to be after his time, anyway.
 

Erik Wood

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The Tournquists that I have had command of mostly freight ships and one it only says had command but not of what. I am snoopping around to see what I can find out though.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Yesterday, it was reported that Lurline is leaving Brazil, and is headed to Salvador, and possibly to Ensenada, Mexico. A new buyer has emerged. Was I right, guys? Too bad though, it apparently may not be headed to San Francisco. More great news was announced yesterday. The U.S.S. Iowa will be mothballed in the Carquinez Straights, just beyond San Francisco Bay, and then (very likely) join the WWII aircraft carrier Hornet at Alameda Naval Base. San Francisco tried has to get the U.S.S. Missouri, but it went to Hawaii's Pearl Harbor.
 

Mike Herbold

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Joe:
Is that a good thing, Iowa being mothballed in the Carquinez Straights? I always thought that was pretty much a graveyard.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Mike,

I'm not exactly sure where Iowa will be situated. The article said it would be mothballed here so I assumed that meant Carquinez Straights. You're right, there's a lot of WWII ships floating there, even submarines, and deteriorating. But the Glomar Explorer was there for a long time, and now it's back in business. Iowa is presently docked on the east coast. The feeling was that by bringing it to San Francisco, it would likely join the U.S.S. Hornet. Interestingly, the article noted that Iowa wouldn't be moved until next winter or spring, when weather permits. It will have to pass through the Panama Canal - - with only a 1 foot clearance on each side!!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Joe, you wouldn't happen to have a link to that story, would you?

Re Panama Canal; the New Jersey was towed through last year. Rather an unusual occurrance as ships generally go through under their own power. Supposedly, the New Jersey being towed deadstick was a first.

Whoever gets the job, I hope they enjoy the heat, humidity, and the bloody mosquitos. I've "done the ditch" five times, and it didn't improve with repettition.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Michael, I thought the story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, but I haven't been able to locate it. However, check out http://www.ussiowa.org, for confirmation. The article on the Battleship Iowa website suggests it may end up among the ships at Fisherman's Wharf. The other article that I saw suggested Alameda, next to the U.S.S. Hornet. Personally, I think it would look much better alongside Hornet than next to a tiny submarine. Further, the guys renovating the Hornet are veterans who served on her. They're great tour guides. But there's a lot of "ifs" to all this so we'll just have to wait and see. Where did U.S.S. New Jersey end up? I don't think I would have missed it if it was around here.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Joe, the USS New JErsey is at the Beckett Street Terminal in Camden N.J., and the Battleship New Jersey Museum Association is at http://bnj.quuxuum.org

The ship just opened up for visitors just last month according to the website.

FYI, the location of the other three is Pearl Harbor for the USS Missouri, Newport R.I. for the Iowa and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Norfolk for the USS Wisconson. Or at least that's where she was the last time I saw her. They may have moved the ship up river to the Nauticus Museum in downtown Norfolk by now. The last two are catagory B mobilisation assets, meaning that they are maintained ready for re-activation if the need arises.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Good Morning all,

Since I was a boy I have loved the battleships and I can't wait to go to the Missouri again. I went and say her while she was active. The New Jersey is still in Bremerton WA isn't she. I sailed passed her and the Mighty Moe about three years ago on my entrance to Seattle.

As for the Lurline. I stand by my statement that she is done for as much as that hurts to say. I am trying to get my mits on the inspectors report. She needs a lot of work. I do know that. I would love to see her as a musem. The Queen Mary is a good one.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Good evening Erik, the USS New Jersey was towed from Bremerton to Camden New Jersey last year and my understanding from the website is that she is now open to visitors. Of course, she'll need a lot of work too to get her up to her former glory. A lot of equipment is stripped off of a ship going into long term lay-up, the most conspicuous is the missing radar and other electronics fittings peculier to a warship. The USS Missouri is now a museum at Pearl Harbor and moored at Ford Island.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

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