Please Note: Firefox and some other search engines are not suitable – Use “Internet Explorer” for this page to load perfectly!

Click the logo above to reach the ssMaritime FrontPage for News Updates & “Ship of the Month”



A short background on Matson Lines: Founded in 1885 was the Oceanic Steam Ship Company OSSCo, that commenced a regular service between the West Coast and New Zealand and Sydney Australia. However it was in 1926 OSSCo was taken over by Matson Line, but it was not until 1932 that they placed two large magnificent liners on this service. The first to depart on her maiden voyage was the SS Mariposa from San Francisco on January 16, 1932. The SS Monterey departed for her maiden voyage from San Francisco just a few months later on June 3, 1932 and both sail across the South Pacific to New Zealand and Australia.

SS Monterey and the SS Mariposa were two of a series of four ships including the SS Lurline and SS Malolo

Author’s private collection

These ships set a whole new style of travel across the Pacific, and by the mid 1950s this grand voyage had become more a voyage of pleasure rather than a need for transportation, and it was very popular, due to the two new ships at the time!

SS Free State Mariner - SS Pine Tree Mariner:

Those new ships would become the two of the most loved ships sailing the South Pacific from 1956 to 1978, But what was the origin of these ships?

1. The SS Monterey was originally built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilders, at Sparrow’s Point, Maryland.

They were specifically designed to be fast and reliable freighters and were ordered by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Here are their general details: The Monterey commenced as the “SS Free State Mariner” - hull number 4507 and she was launched on May 29, 1952 and was delivered later that year.

SS Free State Mariner is seen laid up and for sale

Author’s private collection


SS Pine Tree Mariner seen at the beginning of her very short career as a cargo ship

Author’s private collection

2. The SS Mariposa was also built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilders, but at their other yard at Quincy M.A. USA.

The Mariposa was originally named the “SS Pine Tree Mariner” - hull number 1624 and she was launched on November 7, 1952 and completed early in 1953.

These C-4 class ships were the superior versions to the original wartime C3 and C4 class of ships and they had a very small superstructure located amidships with a tall tapered funnel and five twin sets of derricks, three forward and two aft. Tonnage wise, both ships were 9,700 GRT (Gross registered Tons) and 13,400 DWT. Their days on their cargo run ended up to be exceedingly short and due to it being unprofitable it was decided that within just two years both these American flagged cargo ships were laid up and placed on the open market and thankfully their future, unlike vast majority of C3 and C4 class ships that were built in the US, which were sold to European Shipping Companies to see them rebuilt into modest migrant ships, but these two ships would not only end up remaining under the American flag and become all First Class luxury liners!

Matson Lines – SS Monterey (3) & Mariposa (2):

In 1955 both ships were purchased by Matson lines and they were comprehensively rebuilt at the Williamette Iron and Steel Corporation in Portland. Here a stylish superstructure was built for each ship and they were transformed into the most attractive First Class luxury passenger/cargo liners. In fact they were the very first American liners ever to be given “Sperry Gyro-Fin Stabilisers,” also the new system of, rapid opening “hydraulic hatch covers.”

SS Monterey is seen here being transformed into a luxury liner

Author’s private collection


Original Matson Line Post Card of the SS Mariposa completed as a superb passenger liner!

Author’s private collection

SS Mariposa and the Monterey accommodated just 365 in a luxurious all First class, what can only be called for the 1950s, a superior grade of accommodations regardless of the stateroom you would have booked. Wild the glamorous Lanai Suites has separate bedroom and thus with full sized twin beds, there was also a spacious lounge and a large bathroom, the Deluxe Stateroom and all other Staterooms also had private facilities, but each featured comfortable sofas that would convert into a very comfortable bed at night. I know as I spent enough time in one - Main Deck far forward, Stateroom 331.

This is an example of the Stateroom 331 starboard that I occupied on Main Deck

Taken from a brochure, being part of the author’s private collection

The Mariposa was the first to be completed and having had certain improvements made down in the engine room, during her sea trails 1956 she managed an excellent maximum speed of 24.6 knots. When completed both of these fast ships entered the popular San Francisco to Sydney service.

SS Mariposa seen departing for her maiden voyage to Sydney Australia

Author’s private collection

The SS Mariposa was the first to depart on her maiden voyage from San Francisco on October 26, 1956; she sailed via Honolulu and Papeete Tahiti arriving in Wellington New Zealand on November 15. After her one-day call she headed at full speed for Melbourne in the southern State of Victoria in Australia, arriving there on November 19, having had a fast Tasman crossing. She then headed north for Sydney where she arrived on November 21, 1956 and she arrived to a tumultuous welcome with many ship lovers and past Matson passengers there to greet the new ship. Many people were permitted to come onboard and everyone was more than impressed with this new modern, stylishly and luxurious, yet such an advanced ship! I must say that the advance promotion had assisted a great deal!

An advanced Matson Line poster promoting the SS Mariposa and Monterey!

From the Author’s private collection

Interestingly she called on Auckland New Zealand during her return voyage, however just after several return voyages both Wellington and Melbourne were dropped from the schedules and new ports such as Suva and Pago Pago were added making it an excellent circle Pacific schedule, as seen below the next photo of the Mariposa!

The SS Monterey, being her identical sister in every possible way, right to the details to interior décor, departed on her maiden voyage from San Francisco on January 9, 1957, sailing via the South Pacific to New Zealand and Sydney Australia, arriving there on January 29..

Monterey seen departing San Francisco for her Maiden Voyage to Australia

Author’s private collection


Ports of call included; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bora Bora (Tahiti), Rarotonga (at anchor), Auckland (New Zealand), Sydney, Noumea (New Caledonia), Suva (Fiji), Niuafo’ou (Tonga – at anchor), Pago Pago (American Samoa), Honolulu, San Francisco. Over the years the itinerary did see various changes with new ports of call. In addition both ships did operate a number of cruises, to Alaska as well as to South America!


Monterey berthed at Aloha Pier Honolulu, seen with the older Matsonia

Author’s private collection

Deck by beck description:

Please Note: The Monterey & Mariposa photo album is located on Page Two.

Bridge Deck: Contained spacious decks stretching from just behind the Bridge alongside the funnel casing, completed with a large full width sports deck aft.

Boat Deck: A full walk-around deck with a wide promenade along the sides and a full width deck aft. Amidships portside were nine single cabins, each having two portholes. With the height of Promenade Deck below, all portholes were set high giving full privacy. Aft was the spacious Pool Terrace the perfect venue for buffets and relaxing overlooking the pool just aft.

Promenade Deck: Forward were eighteen cabins. The aft section on port and starboard were two magnificent Lanai Suites. Each had a separate bedroom and lounge, a full sized bath and separate toilet. Other accommodations included two outside deluxe double bedrooms overlooking the bow, six Outside double rooms, three on each side, as well as two outside two berth cabins, five inside twin bedded cabins and one inside single cabin. The accommodations were followed by the forward foyer which led to the Writing Room portside and the Library starboard. The center double doors led into the delightful Polynesian themed Southern Cross Lounge, which also accessed the card room aft starboard. Portside was walk through past the Gallery and bank into the amidships foyer. The next room was the Po most popular Polynesian Club, the ships ballroom featuring the bandstand located forward portside of the oval dance floor. This room continued the Hawaiian feel with a multitude of plants and exotic carvings. The last public room was the delightful Outrigger Bar. The covered promenade on both sides were particularly spacious ending with a full width aft deck.

Upper Deck: This deck was fully dedicated to accommodations, including inside and outside, singles, twin bedded, Two berth, some three and four berth cabins. However, during the day all cabins aboard converted into sitting rooms. Four deluxe double bedrooms were located two forward overlooking the fore deck, and two amidships. The children’s playroom was located aft.

Main Deck: All cabins, located forward, were twin bedded, except for three inside three berth cabins. Just aft of the forward foyer was the location of the ships Shopping Center, followed by the Barber Shop, Photo Shop, Elizabeth Arden Salon, and the Surgery. The amidships Main Foyer and entrance hall contained the Purser’s and Chief Steward’s Offices, followed by the elegant split level Dinning Room. Located one deck below was the spacious but plush theatre, decorated much like the rest of the ship in the style of Polynesia with carvings along the blue walls. It had a spacious stage, a cinemascope screen, which was covered by a deep yellow curtain.


Steaming across the Pacific

Author’s private collection

For just over ten more years these elegant white ships were employed on the Pacific route by Matson as well as having operated on a number of Matson’s traditional California to Hawaii voyages, even a number of longer cruises in their latter years with Matson Lines. But the time was about to come when these two ships were the very last passenger ships in the fleet and Matson was mostly concentrating on their huge cargo operations, which was expanding rapidly! Then suddenly, an announcement was made that all passenger services would end in 1970.

SS Mariposa - Monterey original Specifications

Originally built:                           

1. Free State Mariner:…………………….Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, Sparrow’s Point, Maryland USA - (Monterey).

2. Pine State Mariner:…………………….Bethlehem Steel Corp, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA - (Mariposa).

Both rebuilt at:……………………………….Williamette Iron and Steel Corp, Portland Oregon.

Tonnage:………………………………………..14,799 GRT – SS Monterey.

……………………………………………………….14,812 GRT – SS Mariposa.

Length:…………………………………………..536ft - 163.37m.

Width:…………………………………………….76t - 23.16m.

Draught:…………………………………………29.10ft - 8.87m.

Engines:…………………..…………………….Steam D.R. Geared Turbines.


Service speed:…………………………….…20 knots.

Passengers:…………… …………….……….365 First Class.



SS Mariposa arrives in Honolulu on her 10th visit in 1966 – Note the lei draped over her bow

Author’s private collection


A Matson photo album is located on Page Two


Changing Hands



With new Golden Bear funnel marking both Mariposa and Monterey looked stunning!

Author’s private collection

It was on August 13, 1970 that Matson Lines officially announced that they would terminate their passenger services and would sell both ships to the Pacific Far East Line (PFEL), with the official handover taking place on January 20, 1971. The SS Mariposa was handed over with a short ceremony in San Francisco the next day, January 21, followed when the Monterey was back in port on February 15, 1971, and now both ships were officially operating as full-fledged PFEL ships.

The Mariposa and Monterey continued their voyages across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia. Although the ships received no internal changes, except for their funnels, which received a new livery as the traditional Matson Line livery had to be replaced with a new PFEL one! They received a rather attractive dark blue colour with two golden bands and in between them was that now famed golden bear. Although many past passengers missed the much-loved historic Matson funnel, yet all agreed that her new funnel did look quite spectacular! Otherwise, nothing on board had changed, the same service as the high standard was maintained at all times!



                         SS Monterey with her Pacific Far East Line funnel – Pacific Far East                               --Line brochure with cabin plan

                                       Author’s private collection

PFEL continued to operate the regular services as well as various cruises, but sadly the ships were losing money due to the fuel situation at the time as well as other economic situations. And although they had been receiving a Government subsidy, but this was only available whilst the ships were less than 25 years of age and this would mean that in 1978 the Government subsidy would simply come to an end, and without it, these ships would be too expensive to operate, thus there was no other option than to end there services and to place them on the market.

SS Mariposa departed on November 1, 1977 from San Francisco sailing via all her usual ports arriving in Sydney on November 26 and departed again on the 28th. She returned to San Francisco on December 14, 1977 and having returned from this her very last Trans-Pacific voyage, she now commenced a series of return voyaged to Hawaii, which ended when she returned to San Francisco from Honolulu on April 7, 1978 and she joined the Monterey that was already in lay-up.

SS Monterey departed San Francisco on December 7, 1977 for not just the very last Trans-Pacific liner voyage ever, but also the last one that would be carried out by an American flagged ship! She sailed to Auckland arriving there on December 27, and in Sydney on January 1, 1978, where she remained for three days. Whilst there thousands would come to the harbour front just to look at one of the much loved ships around and when she departed, there was a mighty send-off with every ship in the harbour sounding their horns and countless pleasure boats on the water following her out as far as Sydney heads to say farewell to an old friend! Having visited all the usual ports of call, she arrived back in San Francisco January 19, 1978 and she was laid-up.

However, with both ships having been placed on the market, suddenly Pacific Far East Line went into bankruptcy and therefore the Mariposa and Monterey were sold at auction on April 19, 1979 and both ships were sold for just US$2.7 million. The buyer was Edward Daly, the President of World Airways Inc, San Francisco, but sadly they remained laid up in San Francisco. Attempting to sell the Monterey, there was an unsuccessful bid by Royal Hawaiian Cruise Lines, but in 1980, Monterey was again sold to American Maritime Holdings Inc, San Francisco, but again she was laid up!

On June 24, 1986 she was towed to Portland, Oregon were she was to receive a refit, for her new owner would be officially named as Aloha Pacific Cruises in 1987. The next two pages will cover her journey with that company!

Amazingly, regardless her troubled time with the next owner, she would have a long and a most successful life and would cruise on until 2006! Thusontinue reading and discover her amazing story, warts and all! This is because her first venture turned out to be a disaster, then there were two new owners, but nothing happened, but then her next owner would operate her successfully for what could be called a ships lifetime - twenty perfect years!

A sad looking Monterey is seen here in San Francisco in 1984 whilst laid up awaiting a buyer

Photographer unknown – see photo notes at bottom of page



A Wrap Up of the Two Great Matson Liners:

1: SS Mariposa - China Ocean Shipping Company:

Mariposa departed San Francisco on November 7, 1980 undertow by the famed Dutch tug Zwarte Zee, heading for Mihara Japan, where she arrived on January 6, 1981. Having been laid up for yet another year she was returned to the Pacific Far East Line.

In 1983 having been sold, Mariposa was towed to Kobe, were she was officially handed over to the China Ocean Shipping Company, Beijing. Renamed Jin Jiang she was given new diesel engines and soon commenced on the Shanghai to Hong Kong service.

A sad looking MS Jin Jiang seen around 1990

Author’s private collection

In 1992 Jin Jiang was renamed Queen of Jin Jiang and in 1995 she became the Heng Li. However, not long after having been renamed the Heng Li, she suffered a substantial galley fire that spread and it spelled the end of this once much loved liner and cruise ship! Early in 1996, she headed for India where she was duly broken-up.

2 - SS Monterey will be fully taken care of on “New Page” and Pages “Four to Seven”:

Having been laid up since 1979, in 1988 SS Monterey having been extensively rebuilt as a full time cruise ship commenced cruising for Aloha Pacific Cruises. But there was much more to come for the Monterey. Her new life will be covered on the “New Page” & “Page Four.”


Page One         SS Monterey & Mariposa, the Matson Lines / Pacific Far East Line (PFEL) Liners.

Page Two          Matson / PFEL Photo Album.

Page Three       Matson / PFEL Cabin Plan.

APC Cruises      Aloha Pacific Cruises’ Monterey 1987 to 1988.

APC Cruises 2   SS Monterey maiden voyage brochure, Deck Plan of the rebuilt ship & details re the companies end!

Page Four          Monterey as a Star Lauro / MSC Cruises cruise ship.

Page Five         Monterey - MSC- photographs from various sources.

Page Six           Monterey - MSC - an excellent series of photographs by Johan Coeman.

Page Seven      Monterey - MSC - Cabin Plan.



Use the Back button on your browser or Close the Page to return to the previous page
or go to our

Who is the Author of ssMaritime?

Commenced in the Passenger Shipping Industry in May 1960 &

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


Also visit my …

Save The Classic Liners Campaign


Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!

ssMaritime is owned and © Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved