The First World War was over, but ships that had already been contracted for and were under construction were allowed to be completed, and so it was with the SS Cuyamaca and the SS San Pasqual. These sister ships were oil tankers, having a length of 434.3 feet and a beam of 54 feet. At the time of the war’s end they were in the final stages of completion at the Pacific Marine Construction Company in San Diego, California. What made these two ships unusual was that they were not constructed of traditional materials, but instead were made of ferro-cement.
For years, ferro-cement had been used in marine construction. During the late 19th century, barges were built in Europe out of cement, and when steel was in short supply during the war, even oceangoing ships were constructed this way. The largest cement ships built during World War I were the SS Selma and her sister ship the SS Latham. Although these ships cost less in materials, their construction was far more labor intensive. Most of them are now gone, or are being used as storage tanks, breakwaters or artificial coral reefs, but the SS San Pasqual is unique in that she is still intact and until recently has been in use. You might say that she went on cruises to nowhere.
The SS San Pasqual was launched on June 28, 1920, but less than a year later was severely damaged in a heavy storm. In 1924, the “Old Time Molasses Company of Havana,” a leading Cuban-American molasses company, bought her to be used in Santiago de Cuba, as a floating storage container for raw molasses. Eventually her superstructure was somewhat dismantled and she was towed to Havana, where she remained until 1933. Later, she was once again towed. This time the SS San Pasqual was taken along Cuba’s northern coast and purposely run aground off Cayo Santa María where she remains to this day.
Photo Caption: Part 1 – SS San Pasqual’s bow (visit Captain Hank Bracker at Facebook).
Captain Hank Bracker, who served with the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps, is the author of the multi-award winning book, “The Exciting Story of Cuba” has now written “Suppressed I Rise.” This book is for anyone interested in a very personal human view, of the history of World War II. A mother’s attempt to protect and raise her two young daughters in hostile NAZI Germany challenges her sensibilities and resourcefulness. Both books will be at the NYC Book Exhibit this summer between May 31st & June 2nd at the Jacob Javits Center, but are presently available at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, BooksAMillion.com and many Independent Book Stores.