Turkish Scrap

A long time fixture on the Great Lakes, and even longer as a tied up hulk on Windsor’s West Side, the S.S. Aquarama, is nearing the end of her days, and is awaiting the end in a Turkish Scrapyard.

The postcard above was postmarked 1957 and the caption on the back read as follows:

“AQUARAMA”, new luxurious passenger cruiser on the Great Lakes.
WINDSOR, ONTARIO, CANADA

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News of her demise was carried in the Muskegon Chronicle
. As I’m not sure how long their archives stay, up, there’s a copy below:

Former cruise ship Aquarama to be scrapped
Posted by Robert C. Burns September 21, 2007 22:49PM


The SS Aquarama in 1962 – Chronicle file photo

Anointed as “Queen of the Great Lakes” — nearly a city block long and seven stories high — the SS Aquarama is now in a Turkish shipbreaking yard on the verge of becoming a pile of razor blades.

With its stern pointed toward downtown Muskegon, The SS Aquarama was a fixture of the city’s lakefront, if only in the sense that it never once moved from its mooring at the foot of Third Street for 25 years, until a new owner towed it away in 1988.

Jim Plant, for one, was sorry to see it leave.

“I couldn’t believe the turnout when they towed the Aquarama out of here,” says Plant, who serves on the Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Association board.

“It was born here and it spent a lot of its life here. It’s a big part of our history.”

Although most of its life was spent on Lake Erie, sailing between Detroit and Cleveland, many lined up to tour the 520-foot Aquarama during its last week in Muskegon, marveling at its restaurants, bars, lounges, movie theaters and recreation areas, and wishing, perhaps, that things had turned out differently.

Plans by the new owner, Canadian James Everatt, to convert the former cruise ship into a floating hotel and convention center in Port Stanley, Ont., never materialized. Another plan, floated in the mid-1990s, to turn the ship into a huge casino in Buffalo, N.Y., also went bust.

The ship’s final chapter began last July 15 when the rusting behemoth was towed from Buffalo to Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, for a two-week layover.


Muskegon community leaders and members of the media board the Great Lakes Cruise Ship Aquarama. Circa 1988. – Chronicle file photo


The SS Aquarama passes through the channel with other boats trailing in her wake. – Chronicle file photo

On Aug. 4, according to a blog at www.maritimematters.com, it was hooked to the Greek tug Aetos Z and towed to the Aegean seaport of Aliaga, Turkey, to be whittled away into scrap.

The ship, worth a reported $1 million as scrap steel, arrived there Aug. 10 and awaits its demise.

Originally built in 1944 as a C-4 military transport called the Marine Star, it was purchased by Sand Products Co. of Detroit in 1953 and towed to Muskegon, where it was retrofitted at a cost of $5 million.

The job was completed in 1955. With its new superstructure, built by Muskegon’s Steel Fabricating Co., the newly rechristened Aquarama was the largest cruise ship on the Great Lakes.

Within three years after the Aquarama was refurbished, the city of Muskegon adopted a “Port City” logo featuring a ship that bore more than a passing resemblance to the Aquarama.

Following shakedown cruises and a series of “goodwill” visits to Great Lakes ports, the Aquarama was put to work as an excursion vessel running between Detroit and Cleveland from 1957-62. However, it proved ill-suited for that use.

For the complete story, return to mlive.com/chronicle on Saturday, or pick up a copy of Saturday’s Muskegon Chronicle.


The SS Aquarama – Chronicle file photo

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Thanks to reader Rich B – Who sent along thoses old Windsor Star scans from his collection:

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Here’s a few more. Thanks to regular reader Shawn Micallef for sending these shots of the Aquarama tied up in Bufflao from November 2006.

24 Comments on Turkish Scrap

  1. I used to go down and look at it in awe when it was tied up in Windsor for all those years, but was never among the brave souls that managed to get onto the ship explore it. Someone, somewhere out there, hopefully brought a camera with them on such a trip.

  2. My father and I used to drive by the Aquarama all the time, on the way home from picking up his Sunday papers. It still feels weird not to see it sitting along Russell.

  3. it’s very sad thinking of the Marine Star/Aquarama’s demise. There must be better ways to make a million bucks than destroying unique historic artifacts. I’m very fortunate to have some great never-used keepsakes of this wonderful ship: dixie cups with Aquarama script, two pillow cases embroidered aquarama, one blue, one gold lettering, a place mat and an original booklet with braided cord.
    As a barely steerable single screw craft she was clearly out of her element in the lakes, but left many positive emotions amongst those who love maritime’military design and history-Was there ever a model made of this class of ship?
    Tim Rusling

  4. This is Peter Hartung from Frankfurt (Germany).

    The Panamesian Salvage Tug “Aetos Z” (IMO 8728191) of greek owner Zouros Maritime Consortium of Thessaloniki with ex-greatlakes-liner “Aquarama” ex USS “Marine Star” (build 1945) in tow leaving Quebec on 4th August 2007 with final destination Piraeus (Greece) for possible refurbishing “Aquarama” has been located as follows:

    Leaving Malta Roads in the Mediterranian Sea on September 13th, 2007, located by AIS.

    The Tug Aetos Z has been located since yesterday in Piraeus by AIS (Automatic Identification System), but it is unknown wether with or without his “annex” Aquarama/Marine Star. Still working to get confirmation from Piraeus.

    This Information correlates with a posting to boatnerds.net as follows:

    Quote

    From: Kent Malo
    Location: Candiac Quebec
    email:
    Remote Name: 70.55.110.172
    Date: 08.19.07
    Time: 07:57:40 PM
    Comments
    aetos Z Towing ship IMO 8728191 1986 404 piraeus arriving Sunday, September 09, 2007 07:00 This the tug that is towing the Marine Star.
    Unquote

    There is hope, that the Aquarama arrived in Piraeus. Rumours in USA some weeks ago told that “Aquarama” should be refurbished in Piraeus to a “Casino Ship”. But we are on this side of the “great pond” not really sure and have to verify, whether Aetos Z, now in Piraeus arrived there with his “annex”
    Aquarama. Izmir with its breaking beaches of Aliaga is not very far away from Piraeus…

    Please be so kind and communicate this message to your readers in USA and Canada. May be they can get a confirmation, that Aquarama arrived really at Piraues.

    Still working.
    Best regards
    Peter

  5. This is Peter Hartung from Germany again.

    I am sorry, but it does not look good with the “Aquarama”. After we had traced their Tug AETOS Z in Piraeus, there is not from there still any confirmation that “Aquaram” definitely arrived in Piraeus. In a simple way: “Piraeus” does not “answer.

    From Izmir Osman Bilging reported on 3.10.07 to me after all:
    quote
    Dear Peter,
    Acknowledge receipt of yr e-mail.Well noted the contents.
    I ll check if she has arrived to Aliaga or not, shall keep u informed soon!
    Brgds
    Osman Bilgin
    unquote
    But today there is a further information from a source up to now always reliable in this matter:

    Maritime Matters of Martin Cox

    http://www.maritimematters.com/shipnews.html

    wrote yesterday as follows:

    quote
    Aliaga-RAMA
    October 4: The long saga of the AQUARAMA (ex MARINE STAR) has finally come to at end with reports of the ship’s arrival at Aliaga, Buffalo Turkey for scrapping following a long tow from, NY through the hr. Lawrence Seaway and into the Atlantic.
    Unquote

    I am sorry for having no better news.

    I answer again if there is news and confirmation by Osman Bilgin.

    Peter Hartung, Nidda

  6. Are there any photo’s or video of our beloved Aquarama in Turkey? For years either with my Father or later by myself, I had to stop and look at her while driving up to my Grandparents house in Fredonia NY.

  7. Its a shame we lost her for only a million dollars.Why ?
    Couldnt something have been done ? Theres laws against breaking heritage ships.
    I don’t understand ! She was beautifull ,worth saving.If not couldve she not been used for
    other purposes?
    It’s also an insult that Turkey was her demise,they had no memories of her !

    Evan
    Ocean liner enthusiast.

    It would be nice to see pictures of her when she was a liberty ship,also are there any souvenirs avaible ?

  8. I have about 300 pictures from the tow/tow prep for the move out of Buffalo. E-mail me if you are interested in seeing any of them.

  9. My father was the security guard of that ship in the early 90’s and I spent a few years of my childhood on that ship in Windsor…..I have a crap load of good and creapy stories on that boat…We practically lived on it for years……..and “Evan” I actually do have some plates and silverware that came directly off that ship, I will dig em out and take pics of the stuff for everyone.
    Dave W

  10. If anyone has any pictures of the Aquarama inside and out I would LOVE to have them for the collection I am building. Please send them to my email address at runningzone@yahoo.com

    Please put “Aquarama” in the subject of the email to distinguish it from the mess of spam I get.

    I remember going from Cleveland to Detroit when I was a kid and have had a special love for this ship ever since.

  11. Peter is generous, indeed, to make available the Aquarama/Marine Star scrapping photos which he’s offered. But there are only 2 or 3 photos. Does anyone have more pictures of the complete scrapping? I’m curious about the ships appearance below waterline. Was it finally pulled out of the water when cut up to waterline?

    Also, I’ve never seen photos of the ship’s conversion in Brooklyn, when it’s orginal top was removed and the car ferry conversion was done. Or, for that matter, drydock pictures of the ship in Manitowac in 1957, when the owners lengthened the rudder to improve it’s handling .

    Thanks very much to anyone who has any of these items and would be so kind as to post them!

    Jay in Detroit

  12. We recently helped settled an estate on my hubby’s side. In going thru items I came across a ticket stub for this ship. Apparently it was on exhibit in 1955. Dated Sat, Aug 27 from 5pm to midnite. Ticket no. 0592
    If anyone would like a copy of this ticket please let me know at
    max9@shentel.net Ticket found with a group of old papers going to auction here in Va.

  13. I grew up in Muskegon, Aquarama’s birthplace. I was a bit too young to ever see her sail, but she was a familiar landmark, sitting at the dock downtown. Even in her neglected state, she was a graceful large ship, with a sleek, art deco design. I finally managed to go aboard when they gave tours shortly before she left. It was like stepping into a ’50’s time warp of architecture and memorabilia, very cool.

    Aquarama, you will be missed. Sail on, Queen of the Great Lakes, if only in our fond memories.

  14. My Dad and I were just going through some of my Mom’s old programs, etc., and found a keepsake book about the Inaugural Cruise from Cleveland to Detroit on the Aquarama. It was from August 1957. I was only about 15 months old, so I don’t remember it at all, but I was there as my parents have pictures of us on the ship. I don’t have the book with me, it’s at my Dad’s, but if there’s anything you’d like to know about what’s in the book, I’d be happy to share.

    Diane

  15. Google Earth shows obvious ship-breaker yards just northwest of Aliaga, Turkey, but hard to tell if Aquarama is there. Probably gone by now. So sad. She made waves even bigger than the Bob-Lo boats, as I recall.

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