SS Constitution

The SS Constitution was an ocean liner owned by American Export Lines.

SS Constitution in Hawaii
United States
  • 1951–1974: Constitution
  • 1974–1982: Oceanic Constitution
  • 1982–1997: Constitution
  • 1951–1974: American Export Lines
  • 1974–1979: Atlantic Far East Lines
  • 1982–1997: American Hawaii Cruises
Builder: Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA
Yard number: 1619[1]
Laid down: 1950
Launched: September 16, 1950[1]
Completed: 1951
Maiden voyage: June 25, 1951[1]
Identification: IMO number: 5078882
Fate: Sank while under tow to shipbreakers, 1997
General characteristics (as built)[1]
Type: Ocean liner
Length: 208.01 m (682.45 ft)
Beam: 27.18 m (89.17 ft)
Draft: 9.20 m (30.18 ft)
Installed power: 2 × Bethlehem Steel Corporation steam turbines; 40456 kW
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h)
Capacity: 1000 passengers
General characteristics (after 1959 refit)[1]
Type: Cruise ship
Tonnage: 23,754 GRT
Capacity: 395 passengers
General characteristics (after 1974 refit)[1]
Capacity: 950 passengers
General characteristics (after 1980 refit)[1]
Tonnage: 20,221 GRT
Capacity: 1073 passengers


Commissioned in 1951, she started her long career sailing on the New York City-Genoa-Naples-Gibraltar route to Europe. Constitution was a sister ship to the SS Independence.

Following service on American Export's "Sunlane" cruise to Europe in the 1950s and 1960s the two ships sailed for American Hawaii Cruises for many years in the 1980s and 1990s; as U.S. ships with U.S. crews meeting the criteria of the Passenger Services Act they were able to cruise the Islands without sailing to a foreign port.

SS Constitution was retired in 1995; while under tow to be scrapped, the liner sank north of the Hawaiian Islands on November 17, 1997; 700 nautical miles (1,300 km).

SS Constitution was featured in several episodes of the situation comedy I Love Lucy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, starting with episode, "Bon Voyage," aired January 16, 1956. Lucy Ricardo missed the ship and had to be ferried by air by a then-novel helicopter.

American movie actress Grace Kelly sailed aboard SS Constitution from New York to Monaco for her wedding to Prince Rainier in 1956.

SS Constitution was featured in the 1957 film, An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Former President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess sailed back to New York from Europe on the Constitution in the summer of 1958. The ship was also featured in the beginning and end of an episode of the Naked City TV series titled "No Naked Ladies in Front of Giovanni's House!" aired April 17, 1963. The ship also featured prominently in the Magnum, P.I. television series episode titled "All Thieves on Deck" aired January 30, 1986.


  1. Micke Asklander. "T/S Constitution (1951)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Retrieved 2010-01-24.

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