SS Santa Paula (1916)

SS Santa Paula (later SS Montanan) was a freighter of the Grace Line and later the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company. The vessel also saw military transport service during both World Wars.

SS Santa Paula as built by Cramp Shipyard
Name: SS Santa Paula
Operator: Grace Line (1917, 1919–1925)
Port of registry: New York City
Builder: William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia
Yard number: 439[1]
Acquired: April 1917
Identification: IMO 2214901[2]
Fate: Sold in 1925
Name: USS Santa Paula ID-1590
Operator: US Navy (1918–1919)
Acquired: August 14, 1918
Fate: Returned to owners August 21, 1919
Operator: American-Hawaiian Steamship Company (1925–1943)
Acquired: 1925
Out of service: June 3, 1943
Fate: Sunk by torpedo
General characteristics
Type: Freighter
Tonnage: 6,415 grt
Length: 417.5 ft (127 m)
Beam: 54.8 ft (16.7 m)
Installed power: 1 quadruple expansion
Propulsion: Single screw
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)

Built at William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia, the vessel was completed in April 1917. She was named Santa Paula and entered commercial service for the Grace Line.[3]

After the United States entered World War I, the vessel was requisitioned by the US Navy in August 1918 and became the commissioned USS Santa Paula ID-1590.[4] She was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service to carry cargo for United States forces fighting in France. She only completed one round-trip voyage, from New York to Marseilles and back, with 8,340 tons of general cargo, before the war ended.[5]

Santa Paula again sailed to Marseilles between 21 November and 14 January 1919, this time with supplies for US forces still in France. She was then transferred to the Cruiser and Transport Force. In late January transported American troops home from France and would make four more round-trip voyages from New York to Brest Bordeaux, and St. Nazaire between 22 March and 1 August. When the last of these voyages ended at New York, the ship was turned over to the custody of the Commandant, 3d Naval District and was decommissioned on 21 August 1919 and simultaneously returned to the Grace Line.[5]

Santa Paula resumed service for the Grace Line. By 1925 the intracoastal service had become unprofitable. The American-Hawaiian Steamship Company however was seeking to expand its Pacific service and negotiated the purchase of six ships, including Santa Paula, from the Grace Line. She was renamed SS Montanan (American-Hawaiian's first SS Montanan had been sunk in World War I) and entered Pacific intercoastal service for her new owners.[6] During her inter-war service she carried goods from Los Angeles and San Francisco to the Canal Zone and also made coastal voyages.[7]

Montanan was in the Arabian Sea on June 3, 1943 sailing as a civilian transport vessel. At 150 miles South of Masirah Island, Oman she was sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-27[5][8] At 0735 a torpedo struck on the starboard side of the No. 2 hold, igniting the bunker fuel tanks and sending flames up the foremast. Just seven minutes later the ship sank bow first. Master Charles Harry McGahan was killed along with four other crew members and two of the Armed Guard. Survivors either jumped overboard or boarded her four lifeboats. Survivors in Life Boat No. 2 sailed for two days before rescue by the dhow Naranpasha. They were transferred to the armed trawler HMIS Baroda and arrived at Port Okha, on June 11, 1943. Survivors in the other boats reached Masirah Island.[9]


  1. "Ships Built – Cramp Shipbuilding, Philadelphia". Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  2. Vleggeert, Nico. "SS Montanan (+1943)". TheWreckSite. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  3. "Grace Line Fleet 1882–1969". Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  4. "USS Santa Paula (ID # 1590), 1918–1919. Originally, and later, S.S. Santa Paula (1917)". Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  5. "Santa Paula SP-1590". Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  6. Watts, Ian (23 October 2009). "American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, 1899–1956". Through the Hawse Pipe. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  7. Stone, Eric. "Merchant Mariner Sigurd Bentsen". SS Arkansan. Eric Stone. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
  8. "Indian Ocean - Red Sea 1943". U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged in South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Red Sea During World War II. American Merchant Marine at War, Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  9. Stone, Eric. "American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. in WWII". SS Arkansan. Eric Stone. Retrieved 9 October 2012.

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