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The Michigan (II) flying the early Atlantic Transport Line flag and with a squaresail yard crossed (Kinghorn)

S.S. Michigan (II)

Other names: Acropolis, Washington, Great Canton
Sister: Mississippi
Builder: Harland & Wolff, Belfast, yard number 227
Launched April 19, 1890; delivered June 21, 1890; maiden voyage November 15, 1891; broken up in Italy, 1924
Hull: length 370' 9"; beam 44 2"; 3,722 tons
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine; coal consumption 35 tons per day: 11 knots
Registered in London; official number 98117

 

The Michigan was built as a cargo ship with limited passenger accommodation and was fitted out under the supervision of her first captain, Hamilton Murrell. In September 1891 the New York Times had reported that this ship was one of the four vessels "most likely to be placed on the new line" then being organized from New York, and she made her first voyage on that service in September. She made seven round voyages on this service, the last commencing in April 1893 and subsequently sailed between London and Baltimore. Paul P. Harris, the founder of Rotary International, worked as sub-foreman of the gang of cattlemen on the Michigan for one voyage in the summer of 1893. Captain E. G. Cannons was for a time chief officer on this ship. The Michigan was transferred to the National Line when it was acquired by the Atlantic Transport Line in 1896 and sailed on its London to New York line. She clearly continued to sail for the Atlantic Transport Line for she is recorded doing so in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals.

The Michigan was sold to the U.S. government on July 14, 1898, for $660,000 for service as a military transport during the Spanish-American War. Her capacity was 40 officers, 800 men and 800 horses. She also had refrigerated capacity for shipping 1,000 pounds of meat. An article in the New York Times records that her consumption of coal was 35 tons per day.

Her conversion was not completed in time for her to serve during the war, which was of short duration, but she was retained as one of the ships forming the permanent transport service needed to support the United States' new responsibilities overseas. She was refitted for her new role in Newport News in 1899 and emerged with two tall masts replacing her original four masts. She was renamed Kilpatrick and was allocated to the Atlantic fleet. In August 1909 she participated in war games off the coast of Massachusetts, pretending to be "a modern battleship of the all-big-gun type" stationed to protect the landing of troops intent on 'capturing' New Bedford.

In 1920 the USAT Kilpatrick was sold to the American Black Sea Line, renamed Acropolis, rebuilt to 5,083 tons (including the weight of a dummy funnel), and fitted out with accommodation for 250-cabin and 600-third class passengers. She sailed as an emigrant ship between New York, Piraeus, and Constantinople between April 1921 and September 1922. She was sold in 1923 to the American owned Booras Steamship Company and renamed Washington. She commenced the first of two voyages for her new owners on May 1, 1923, leaving New York for Piraeus and Constantinople, and the second and last on July 7, 1923, when she sailed from New York via Boston. Later the same year she was sold to T. C. Phelps, of New York, who renamed her Great Canton and scrapped her the following year in Italy.

Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; U.S. Army Transportation Museum Website ; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; The Ships List; The New York Times, September 4, 1891; October 13, 1901; September 13, 1903; May 23, 1904; August 14, 1909

Photo postcard showing the Michigan (II) with a yard crossed on her fore mast
The Michigan (II) flying the early Atlantic Transport Line flag and with a squaresail yard crossed (Kinghorn)

Photo of a cut away model of USAT Kilpatrick at the U.S. Army Transport Museum
A cutaway model of U.S.A.T. Kilpatrick before her major refit reduced her to two masts (U.S. Army Transport Museum)

Post 1900 image of the Kilpatrick about to leave New York for Boston (Library of Congress)
Kilpatrick about to leave New York for Boston for the war games in 1909 (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-04132)

Post 1900 image of the Kilpatrick about to leave New York for Boston (Library of Congress)
Troops on board Kilpatrick about to leave New York for Boston for the war games in 1909 (Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-04130)

Photo postcard mailed in December 1914 by a soldier who sailed on her as part of U.S. support for the 1914 revolution there. (Audreystime on eBay)
This photo postcard was mailed in December 1914. The sender comments that "this is the ship I went
to Mexico on," referring to U.S. support for the 1914 revolution there. (Audreystime on eBay)

 

For more information ...

Kinghorn "The Atlantic Transport Line 1881 - 1931" McFarland, 2011

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