SS Malolo

SS Malolo (later known as Matsonia, Atlantic, and Queen Frederica) was an American ocean liner and cruise ship built by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia in 1926 for the Matson Line. She was the first of a number of ships designed by William Francis Gibbs for the line, which did much to develop tourism in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1927 Matson commissioned its largest ship yet, the Malolo (flying fish) for the first-class luxury service between San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. The Malolo and other Matson liners advertised superb public rooms, spacious cabins, swimming pools, a gymnasium, and a staff, including a hairdresser, to provide a high standard of service.[2]

Sailing as Queen Frederica, ca. 1960s
Name: SS Malolo
Builder: William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia
Yard number: 509
Laid down: 1925
Launched: 26 June 1926
Christened: 26 June 1926
Completed: May 1927
Maiden voyage: 16 November 1927
  • Matsonia, 1937
  • Atlantic, 1948
  • Queen Frederica, January 1955
Identification: IMO number: 5376997
  • Laid up, November 1973
  • Sold for scrapping in Eleusina, Greece, July 1977
General characteristics
Tonnage: 17,226 gross register tons (GRT) (1927)[1]
Length: 582 ft (177 m)
Beam: 83 ft (25 m)
Draught: 30 ft 7 in (9.32 m)
  • 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) service
  • 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) maximum
Capacity: 620 passengers (457 1st class, 163 Cabin class)


Malolo introduced improved safety standards which influenced all subsequent American passenger liners. On 25 May 1927 while on her sea trials in the western Atlantic, she collided with SS Jacob Christensen, a Norwegian freighter, with an impact equal to that when Titanic struck an iceberg and sank 15 years earlier. Malolo's advanced watertight compartments allowed her to stay afloat and sail into New York Harbor flooded with over 7,000 tons of sea water in her hull.[3]


In 1937, Matson docked Malolo for a major refit. The lifeboats were moved two decks higher and the deck they vacated was enclosed to create additional berths including new "Lanai Suites". Existing cabins were greatly upgraded; the ship changed from a combination of 457 first class and 163 cabin class accommodations to 693 first class only. The transformed ship was rechristened Matsonia.[4]

Wartime service

From early 1942 through April 1946 Matsonia was operated as a troop ship by the Matson Company as agent for the War Shipping Administration.[5]

With her duties as a troop ship completed in April 1946, she returned to commercial duties between San Francisco and Honolulu.[6] She made her final trip for the Matson Line in April 1948. When she arrived in Los Angeles Harbor from Hawaii 238 passengers disembarked, with 126 arriving at her final port of call in San Francisco on April 20. “Capt. William R. Meyer, Matsonia master, signed the last entry in her log - “finished with engines” - and turned the record over to Hugh Gallagher, operations Vice President of the line.”[7]

Atlantic and Queen Frederica

After retirement by the Matson Line she was sold to Home Lines, which renamed her Atlantic and later Queen Frederica (after Queen Frederica of Greece) before being sold to Chandris Lines. After fifty years of service for several different companies, she was sold to Greek breakers in July 1977 and was towed to the breakers yards at Eleusina, Greece. In February 1978 while her interiors were being demolished she was gutted by fire and work was temporarily halted. Three years later her remaining hull sections could still be seen among other ships at the breakers' yard.[4]

See also


  1. In her later career her registered tonnage was 21,239, as measured by British rules which included in the measurement upper superstructure not included in US measurements. Braynard, Frank O. (1968). By Their Works Ye Shall Know Them, The Life and Ships of William Francis Gibbs 1886–1967. Gibbs & Cox, Inc. p. 37.
  2. Great Luxury Liners 1927–1954, A Photographic Record by William H. Miller, Jr.
  3. Brayard, By Their Works Ye Shall Know Them, 35–41.
  4. "Matson Lines: SS Malolo, Matsonia, Home Lines: Atlantic, Chandris: Queen Frederica". Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  5. Naval History & Heritage Command. "S.S. Malolo (American Passenger Liner, 1927)". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  7. Associated Press, “Luxury Liner Matsonia Makes Final Voyage,” The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday 21 April 1948, Volume LIV, Number 201, page 1.
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