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Other names: Zeeland, Northland
Builder: John Brown & Co. of Clydebank, Yard number 342
Launched November 24, 1900; maiden voyage April 13, 1901; broken up 1930
Hull: length 561' 6"; beam 60' 3"; 11,667 tons
Power: twin screws: quadruple expansion engines by builder, cylinders of 31", 44", 62", and 88" diameter, stroke 54"; 1,627 n.h.p.; 8 single ended boilers
28 ribbed furnaces; grate surface 511 sq. ft.; heating surface 23,480 sq. ft.; forced draught; 15 knots
Registered in Liverpool; official number 113460
The Minnesota (III) was built as the Zeeland for the Red Star Line. Clement Griscom, Director of the parent International Navigation Company obtained the capital he needed for modernizing his fleet through the successful floatation of 5 percent mortgage bonds in 1899. The new funds enabled Griscom to order Vaterland and her sister Zeeland for the Red Star Line, and two slower ships for the American Line. The Zeeland had accommodation for 342 first, 194 second and 626 third class passengers, and offered some first class suites. Unusually, steerage passengers were accommodated in private two, four, and six berth rooms.
On April 19, 1910, the Zeeland was chartered to White Star Line and pending the delivery of the Olympic was used as a replacement for the Republic, which had been lost. She sailed on the Liverpool to Boston route and made her last sailing on this service in September 1911. On October 21, 1911, she resumed Antwerp to New York sailings (via Dover) for Red Star Line, and during the off-season disembarked at Boston. In 1912 she was transferred to Belgian registry, and did not return to British registration for two years. In July 1914 (days before the outbreak of war according to Vernon Finch), she was involved in a collision with the Atlantic Transport Line's Missouri during a voyage to New York. The incident was blamed on faulty steering gear on the Missouri. The Zeeland was severeley dented midships, and the Missouri had her bow extensively damaged. The Zeeland was carrying 693 passengers at the time and was under the command of Captain Möller.
On September 11, 1914, with the port of Antwerp closed because of the war she was returned to the White Star Line to replace ships requisitioned for Government service. As Southampton had become a military port she operated between Liverpool and New York and then Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal. In early 1915 she was transferred to the International Navigation Company of Liverpool and, as her name sounded too Germanic, was renamed Northland. In March 1915 however she was transferred to the White Star Dominion Line for the Liverpool to Halifax and Portland and Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal routes until becoming a troopship herself.
She returned to her White Star Dominion Line service from August 1916 to February 1917, and after seven voyages was taken over by the Shipping Controller (in March 1917) under the Liner Requisition Scheme. She was briefly chartered to the American Line and sailed four return trips from Liverpool to Philadelphia.
After she was decommissioned in September 1919 she was refitted at Liverpool and Belfast in 1920 and refurnished in Antwerp. In addition, her name reverted to Zeeland. On August 18, 1920, she recommenced her Red Star Line sailings from Antwerp to New York with a call at Southampton under the British flag. In 1921 her European terminal port became Hamburg, and in 1924 she was converted to all tourist class accommodation.
In 1927 the Zeeland was transferred to the Atlantic Transport Line under the management, according to one source, of Frederick Leyland & Co. This may have been because the Red Star Line (and the soon Atlantic Transport Line) were being liquidated by the parent International Mercantile Marine Company and its remaining assets were placed under the management of the International Mercantile Marine Company's last British component. The Zeeland made one trooping voyage to Shanghai in company with the Megantic transporting Royal Marines before being deployed on the London to New York route from April 27. By then she had been renamed Minnesota and with the Minnekahda (II) operated a tourist class service marketed at the time as "the Democratic Ships." These steamers enabled the Atlantic Transport Line to offer once again a well-balanced weekly service, with a vessel leaving London and New York every Saturday, with first class and tourist class sailings on alternate weeks. The Minnesota (III) is recorded in the Morton Allan Directory of European Passenger Steamship Arrivals making a total 26 voyages to New York for the Atlantic Transport Line passenger service between May 1927 and June 1930.
The Minnesota (III) sailed under the command of Captain E. Finch R.D. (R.N.R.), and offered passengers a wealth of activities. In August of 1929 passengers were presented with a printed program for the coming week's activities. Events listed for the week included bridge on Wednesday afternoon, a tea dance on Thursday afternoon, a treasure hunt on Thursday night, a costume dance on Friday afternoon, horse racing (with wooden "horses"?) on Friday afternoon and deck sports daily with finals held on Saturday afternoon and prizes awarded at the grand concert that evening. The ship carried an orchestra and there was dancing every evening. The horse races were held on the after well deck with the first of the six races commencing at 2:30 p.m. There were six horses a race, each "owned" by a passenger or senior member of the crew, and 25c bets were placed. Races had amusing names such as the "Seasick Hurdle" and "Lowbrow Handicap," and the horses had names like Arthritis, Indigestion, Steam Hammer, Count de Money, and Waffles. One passenger, Miss Elizabeth Benjamin, noted in the diary she kept throughout her European vacation, "won $1.25, bet on the Captain's horse Safety First." The same diary records a fire in the hold early in the crossing. Minnesota's voyage that commenced on September 21, 1929 saw "the gala event of the season" held in the saloon the last Saturday of the crossing despite stormy weather that threatened a cancellation. Turns included the ship's orchestra, Lester's Famous Midgets (with elephant obbligato), the celebrated baritone Randall Hargreaves, and "Swampscott's Famous Scarecrow" Miss M. M. Preston. (Miss Benjamin's diary notes that she "saw elephant put to bed," which both explains the accompaniment to John Lester's act and confirms that the ship carried livestock.)
By the late 1920s tourist class travel had established itself "passengers no longer show any aversion to it" according to the New York Times and for the Atlantic Transport Line seemed to be faring better than the line's dwindling first cabin business. In the two high-season months of June and July of 1929 the International Mercantile Marine Company's fleet carried a total of 12,113 tourist class passengers and Minnekahda (II) was the most successful ship in this service.
The Minnesota (III) arrived in New York for the last time on June 7, 1930, and was soon after soon sold to T. W. Ward Ltd. of Inverkeithing on the Firth of Forth, Scotland, for scrap.
Sources: The Atlantic Transport Line, 1881-1931; The Ships List; Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present, Eugene W. Smith, Massachusetts, 1977; Merchant Fleets in Profile 2; the Ships of the Cunard, American, Red Star, Inman, Leyland, Dominion, Atlantic Transport and White Star Lines, Duncan Haws, 1979; The American Line (1871-1902), Flayhart William Henry III, New York, 2000; The Red Star Line and the International Mercantile Marine Company, Vernon E.W. Finch, Antwerp, 1988; www.simplonpc.co.uk; www.red-duster.co.uk; The New York Times, June 22, 1909; Travel diary and documents kept by passenger Elizabeth Benjamin (Kinghorn collection)
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