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SS Leviathan

Originally built as SS VaterlandCreated by: PICRYLDated: 1917
[SS Leviathan]
SS Vaterland was built in 1913 by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg, Germany, as the second of a trio of very large ships of Imperator-class for the Hamburg-America Line's trans-Atlantic route. She was the largest passenger ship in the world upon her completion, superseding SS Imperator, but later being superseded in turn by the last ship of this class, SS Bismarck, later the RMS Majestic.

Vaterland had made only a few trips when, in late July 1914, she arrived at New York City just as World War I broke out. With a safe return to Germany rendered questionable by British dominance of the seas, she was laid up at her Hoboken, NJ, terminal and remained immobile for nearly three years when she was seized when the United States entered World War I, 6 April 1917. German crew was sent to a new internment camp in Hot Springs, NC, where many of the crew later died of a typhoid fever outbreak in summer 1918.

During war Leviathan mage regular passages between the U.S. and European Allies, delivering up to 14,000 persons on each trip. On 29 September 1918 she left New York for Brest, she was one of the main carriers of troops to France, carrying 2,000 crew, and 9,000 troops. The voyage would prove to have the worst in-transit casualties of the deadly second wave of the Spanish flu. By the time she arrived at Brest on 8 October, 2,000 were sick, and 80 had died.

After the war, she was at her Hoboken pier until April 1922, until finally sailed to Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia. After 14-month reconditioning and refurbishment virtually a new ship emerged and she had become the world's largest and fastest ship. A claim that was immediately challenged by the Cunard Line who reminded them their RMS Mauretania (1906) still held the official speed record for trans-Atlantic crossing, as well as the White Star Line, who claimed the RMS Majestic as the world's largest ship as its length was longer, and its gross tonnage was higher as Gibbs used a skewed formula.

She immediately proved popular with the American public in the 20s, starting her career fully booked for her maiden voyage 4 July 1923. Her passenger average reached a strong 1,300 by 1926, making her the #1 traveled ship on the Atlantic, but given her capacity of 3,000, it was too little to be profitable. From 1920 all US registered ships counted as an extension of US territory, making them "dry ships" according to the National Prohibition Act. With the Atlantic shipping capacity oversaturated, especially after the Immigration Act of 1924, alcohol-seeking passengers readily chose other liners.

After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year of service, in 1937 she was finally sold to the British Metal Industries Ltd. She arrived at Rosyth, Scotland, on 14 February. In the 13 years that she served U.S. Lines she carried more than a quarter-million passengers, never earning a cent.

Leviathan was an American symbol of power and prestige, which despite her economic failings, made her a popular ship with loyal travelers. She attracted attention as the largest and fastest ship in the American merchant marine and featured in countless advertisements. The ship's orchestra, the SS Leviathan Orchestra under the direction of Nelson Maples, was also well regarded. Gramophone records were produced in 1923 and 1924 for Victor Records by the band, which would later become an inspiration for the New Leviathan Oriental Fox-Trot Orchestra decades later.
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109 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2
LEVIATHAN
Leviathan
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LEVIATHAN
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VATERLAND
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HMS LEVIATHAN: 14,100 Tons, IHP 30,000

HMS LEVIATHAN: 14,100 Tons, IHP 30,000

Photograph shows the HMS Leviathan, an armoured cruiser of the British Royal Navy. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2012)

VATERLAND

VATERLAND

Photo shows a photograph of an illustration of the transatlantic ocean liner "Vaterland" which was built for Germany's Hamburg American Line. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2008)

Lady Sybil Grey & Lady Evelyn Grey Jones on VATERLAND

Lady Sybil Grey & Lady Evelyn Grey Jones on VATERLAND

Photograph shows Lady Evelyn Alice Grey (1886-1971) and Lady Sybil Grey (1882-1966), the daughters of British nobleman and politician Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917), who served as Governor... more

Earl Grey on VATERLAND

Earl Grey on VATERLAND

Photograph shows British nobleman and politician Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917), who served as Governor General of Canada. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2011)

Countess Grey and daughters on VATERLAND

Countess Grey and daughters on VATERLAND

Photograph shows wife and daughters of British nobleman and politician Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917), who served as Governor General of Canada. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2011)

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Wounded heroes on board U.S.S. Leviathan

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Wounded heroes on board U.S.S. Lev...

Photographer: Underwood & Underwood American Red Cross - Refreshments

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Red Cross workers feeding the boys doughnuts as they boarded their train for camp, just after they arrived in New York City on the Leviathan

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Red Cross workers feeding the boys...

Photographer: Kadel & Herbert American Red Cross - Refreshments

Ceremonies - Salutes and Parades - New York - General Pershing arrives, September 8, 1919

Ceremonies - Salutes and Parades - New York - General Pershing arrives...

Original Caption: General Pershing arrives, September 8, 1919. A view of the pier, decorated in honor of the returning Commanding General of the U.S. Army, General John J. Pershing. At the side, Red Cross wor... more

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - New York's heroic 27th arrives home. Troops of 27th Division who arrived from France on Leviathan shown aboard ferry boat that is to take them to demobilization camp at Camp Mills

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - New York's heroic 27th arrives home. ...

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Giant transport Leviathan brings over 8,000 U.S. troops. The soldiers boarding their train for camp after leaving the giant steamer

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Giant transport Leviathan brings over...

Photographer: Kadel & Herbert Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - 10,000 war heroes welcomed onto giant Leviathan. Crowds line shores to cheer the fighting 27th Division. Sc.Bs. Leviathan steaming up bay with committee boats and Naval aircraft welcoming the boys

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - 10,000 war heroes welcomed onto giant...

Photographer: Central News Service Demobilization - Arrivals Home

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - 8,000 war heroes welcomed on Mauretania. Crowds line shores to cheer fighting 27th Division. Mauretania closely followed giant steamer Leviathan with 10,000 of 27th Division aboard

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - 8,000 war heroes welcomed on Mauretan...

Photographer: Central News Service Demobilization - Miscellaneous

American Red Cross - Refreshments - 27th Division back on Leviathan and Mauretania. New York 27th Division on their way to demobilization camp are fed with coffee, cake and candy by large army of Red Cross and Canteen workers on pier

American Red Cross - Refreshments - 27th Division back on Leviathan an...

Date Taken: 3/6/1919 Photographer: Western Newspaper Union American Red Cross - Refreshments

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Giant Transport Leviathan brings over 8,000 United States troops. Red Cross worker dealing out coffee to the boys as they boarded the train for camp after leaving the transport

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Giant Transport Leviathan brings o...

Photographer: Kadel & Herbert American Red Cross - Refreshments

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. U.S. troops on board the world's largest steamship, returning to New York

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. U.S. troops on ...

Photographer: Paul Thompson Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. U.S. Troops returned to New York on world's largest steamship

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. U.S. Troops ret...

Photographer: Paul Thompson Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Happy lads of the famous 27th Division on the deck of the transport Leviathan as she pulls into New York Harbor

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Happy lads of the famous 27th Divisio...

Photographer: Keyst1 View Co., N.Y.C. Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. World's largest steamship arrives in New York with U.S. troops

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Arrival of Leviathan. World's largest...

Photographer: Paul Thompson Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - 27th Division back on Leviathan and Mauretania. This proud mother made a big banner with her son's name on it so he could see it when the ship passed the battery Park Sea Wall where his mother is anxiously waiting his return

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - 27th Division back on Leviathan and M...

Date Taken: 3/6/1919 Photographer: Western Newspaper Union Demobilization - Arrivals Home

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Members of the New York City Chapter of the American Red Cross met the great steamship "Leviathan" formerly the Vaterland, when it arrived recently with American troops

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Members of the New York City Chapt...

Date Taken: 10/2/1918 Photographer: Western Newspaper Union American Red Cross - Refreshments

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Crowds welcoming members of 27th Division on S.S. Leviathan

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Crowds welcoming members of 27th Divi...

Photographer: Central News Service Demobilization - Miscellaneous

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Largest ship afloat returns with 8,000 troops. Thousands of soldiers are lined up along the rail of the steamer, U.S.S. Leviathan

Demobilization - Miscellaneous - Largest ship afloat returns with 8,00...

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood Demobilization - Miscellaneous

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Giant Transport Leviathan brings over 8,000 U.S. Troops. Red Cross workers feeding doughnuts to the boys just off the Leviathan as they boarded their train for camp

American Red Cross - Refreshments - Giant Transport Leviathan brings o...

Photographer: Kadel & Herbert American Red Cross - Refreshments

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - Heroic 27th division which arrived on Leviathan. Crowds waiting at Long Island stations for glimpse of boys of Heroic 27th as they arrive on way to Camp Mills where final preparations will be made for great parade to be held in their honor

Demobilization - Arrivals Home - Heroic 27th division which arrived on...

Photographer: Underwood and Underwood Demobilization - Arrivals Home

Coaling the Leviathan

Coaling the Leviathan

Photographs of American Military Activities

[Theodore Roosevelt on SS Leviathan on Way to Peace Conference]

[Theodore Roosevelt on SS Leviathan on Way to Peace Conference]

Title devised by Library staff. "W.M. Gourley phone 55 Lake Forest Ill." stamped on back of print. "Taken by "Sgt. Floyd Kufus" handwritten on back of print. Original nitrate negative processed as LC-MISC-23-59... more

General Pershing leaves the LEVIATHAN at N.Y.

General Pershing leaves the LEVIATHAN at N.Y.

Photoprint copyrighted by W.L. Mann. No. 16. This record contains unverified data from caption card. Caption card tracings: BI; WWI; Ships U.S. LEVIATHAN; NYC.

General Pershing escorts Marshall Foch from LEVIATHAN, Brest, France

General Pershing escorts Marshall Foch from LEVIATHAN, Brest, France

Photoprint copyrighted by W.L. Mann. No. 7. This record contains unverified data from caption card. Caption card tracings: BI; WWI; Ships U.S. LEVIATHAN; France Brest.

SS Leviathan Orchestra

SS Leviathan Orchestra

SS Leviathan Orchestra under the direction of Nelson Maples was well regarded. Gramophone records were produced in 1923 and 1924 for Victor Records by the band, which would later become an inspiration for the... more