SS Santa Paula (1958)

The SS Santa Paula was a passenger/cargo ship built for the Grace Line South American service in 1958, later sailing on Caribbean cruises out of New York. She was one of the last US-flagged ocean liners ever built.

  • 1958-1972: Santa Paula
  • 1972-1978: Stella Polaris
  • 1978-1989: Kuwait Marriott Hotel
  • 1989-1991: Ramada al Salam Hotel
Ordered: 1956
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding Company
Yard number: 522
Laid down: January 9, 1958[1]
Launched: June 28, 1958
Sponsored by: Pat Nixon
Christened: By Pat Nixon
Completed: October 10, 1958
In service: 1958
Out of service: 1978
Identification: IMO number: 5312745
Status: Scrapped in 2002
General characteristics
Tonnage: 15,371 GRT
Length: 584 ft
Beam: 84 ft
Installed power: GE Geared Steam Turbines
Propulsion: Two Propellers
Speed: 20 knots
Capacity: 546 passengers

As the Santa Paula

The SS Santa Paula (3) was built at Newport News Shipbuilding Company with her bigger sister the Santa Rosa for the Grace Line's renowned New York-Central American service, to replace the two 1932-built 9,100-ton liners of the same names. (The first Grace Line Santa Paula was a 1916-built ship.) She was christened by Pat Nixon, the then-Second Lady of the United States[2] and set sail on her maiden voyage from New York City on October 11, 1958, just one day after preparations for service were completed. Her sister entered service the following year. The ship was considered remarkable for her time, with her fireproof aluminum panel interiors and, unlike other ships of their service, every single cabin had its own bathroom. In the early 1960s Grace abandoned their South American route and put the Santa Paula and her sister on Caribbean cruising service permanently. On November 25, 1964, while the Santa Paula was returning to New York from the Caribbean, the Israeli passenger ship SS Shalom collided with the tanker MV Stolt Dagali, slicing its stern section off. The Santa Paula was the first ship to respond to the SOS sent out by the tanker's crew, and managed to rescue 25 of the 43 on board.[3] After being operated successfully for 11 years, Grace Line sold their shipping interests to the Prudential Lines, becoming Prudential-Grace Lines. Despite high passenger numbers, in January 1971 she was put out of service and laid up at Hampton Roads, Virginia.[4] Within a year the Santa Paula was sold to Oceanic Sun Line for service as a cruise ship.

Hotel service

She arrived at Piraeus, Greece to be rebuilt into the cruise ship Stella Polaris. This plan fell through, so was once again laid up until 1976, when Marriott International bought her to become a hotel in partnership with four other companies. Stella Polaris went to Yugoslavia, where she was rebuilt for hotel service in Kuwait City. She arrived in Kuwait in 1978, where she was renamed Kuwait Marriott Hotel and was landlocked in a specially made berth raised out of the harbor bed. In 1980 work was finally complete and Kuwait Marriott Hotel opened its doors. In 1989 the hotel was renamed The Ramada al Salaam Hotel.[5]


During the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990 many buildings were bombed or shelled, including the Ramada al Salaam, which was set afire. The blaze rendered her a total loss, but some machinery that was intact after the fire was used in the conversion of her sister ship, the former Santa Rosa, from an ocean liner into a cruise ship in 1991.[5] The ship remained at her berth until 2002, when she was scrapped on site. Her sister continued to operate until 2009, and was scrapped in 2012.


  1. Falco, Nicholas. "Inventory to the Records of W. R. Grace" (PDF). SUNY Maritime College. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 August 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2012.
  2. "Classic Shipbuilding - Vintage 8x10 Photograph - Pat Nixon - SS Santa Paula". October 11, 1958. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  3. Shalom Collision
  4. Simplonpc
  5. "SS Santa Rosa and Santa Paula". SS Maritime. Retrieved 10 November 2019.

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