4th June, 1932 : Meher Baba on board the SS Monterey docked in Los Angeles harbour prior to her maiden voyage to Hawaii.
4th June, 1932 : Meher Baba on board the SS Monterey docked in Los Angeles harbour prior to her maiden voyage to Hawaii.

Baba sailed on the ships maiden voyage from Los Angeles at 11PM on the 4th June 1932, arriving in Honolulu 9th June.

at 8AM.  On the same day, Rustom Irani sailed under Baba's instructions to New Zealand and to Australia, then onto Bombay.

Rustom, however, was not allowed to land in Sydney due to the strict immigration laws.

The ship then sailed onto Melbourne the final port of call with Rustom still on board.

On the 4th July, the Monterey then returned the same way back to Los Angeles. Presumably, Rustom sailed back to Hawaii and then took another ship and sailed to India via the Orient.


Captain A.G.Townsend U.S.N.R. was in command of the ship on it's full maiden voyage.

In the evening of June 4th, Marc Jones drove Baba and three of the mandali to the ship harbor, while Tod and Adi Jr. followed in Celeste W. Domola's car. Celeste was a cousin of the Joneses and had become very close and helpful to Baba during his stay. Marc's sister, Helen, was also of great help in keeping up with Baba's busy schedule. A large group followed to see Baba off. Baba boarded the Monterey, which was on its maiden voyage, and set out for Honolulu at eleven o'clock that night.

Baba shared his cabin with Carl Phillips. Tod had a cabin alone across from Baba's, and Chanji, Kaka, Adi Jr. and Beheram had another one nearby. The voyage, however, was not pleasant. Carl Phillips immediately got seasick and proved a veritable nuisance. The boy was disobedient and self-indulgent. Tod had to chase him from one end of the ship to the other, from the gym to the swimming pool, to get him to come to Baba when called. Carl's one thought seemed to be to enjoy himself as much as he could on this free holiday away from his parents. Baba was getting fed up with the boy's mischievousness and decided to send him back home at the first opportunity – as soon as they landed in Hawaii. Although Carl Phillips had been brought for Baba's work, Quentin Tod had to serve him night and day! It was always the case with whatever "ideal boy" was cared for by the mandali.


Lord Meher Volume 5, Page 1667


 4th June, 1932 : Meher Baba on board the SS Monterey docked in Los Angeles harbour prior to her maiden voyage to Hawaii.
4th June, 1932 : Meher Baba on board the SS Monterey docked in Los Angeles harbour prior to her maiden voyage to Hawaii.

Many on the ship came to see Baba and he surprisingly met them all. After four days at sea, they arrived in Honolulu on June 9th at eight in the morning and stayed at the Moana Hotel for two days. Rustom, whom Baba had called from China, met them at the dock.

After a private meeting with Rustom, Baba decided to send him on to Australia and New Zealand that same day ( SS Monterey ). This was to forge further links with the West, the result of which was made evident after a number of years when so many Australians came into Meher Baba's fold. Rustom, however, was not allowed to land in Sydney due to the strict immigration laws.


Lord Meher Volume 5, Page 1668

The recollections of Quentin Tod 

Courtesy of The Awakener magazine ; Vol.X11, No.3 - 16
Courtesy of The Awakener magazine ; Vol.X11, No.3 - 16


Maiden voyage menus and brochures

Historical Statistics:




Bethlehem Steel, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA

Yard Number:


Date of Build:


Vessel Name:

Other Names:


Matsonia, Lurline, Britanis, Belofin-1

Type of Vessel:

Passenger / Cargo ocean liner

Date Launched:

10th October 1931

Launched by:

 Mrs E. Faxton Bishop

(Wife of one of the Matson Line directors)

Maiden Voyage:

3rd June 1932

San Francisco - Los Angeles - Honolulu - Pago Pago - Suva - Auckland - Sydney  - Melbourne

Final Commercial Voyage:

November 1994

Caribbean cruise from Miami, Florida

Final Voyage:

Tampa, Florida, USA to off the coast of South Africa en route to shipbreakers in India / Pakistan


Sank off the coast of South Africa while under tow from Tampa, Florida, USA to the shipbreakers in India / Pakistan





Port of Registry:

San Francisco, California, USA

Original Owners / Operators:

Matson Line



Technical Statistics:




631 ft


79.1 ft


Gross Registered Tonnage:

18,017 tons


Geared steam turbines driving twin screws developing 25,000 SHP.


 Two propellors

Maximum Speed:

 23 knots

Service Speed:

21.5 knots

Passengers & Crew:

472 First Class and 229 Cabin Class passengers and 360 crew.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

SS Monterey
Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at Fore River Shipyard
Launched: 1931
Entered service: 1932 as SS Monterey
1942 as USAT Monterey
1957 as Matsonia
1963 as Lurline
1970 as Britanis
1998 as Belofin-1
Operators: Matson Lines
Chandris Lines
Tonnage: 18,017 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 192 meters / 632 feet
Width: 24 meters / 79 feet
Propulsion: 2 × Bethlehem geared steam turbines
Power: 28,450 SHP
Speed: 22.84 knots top speed
Passenger capacity: 701 (472 First class, 229 cabin class)
Crew: 360
Status: Sunk 21 October 2000 off South Africa while under tow en route to scrappers

The SS Monterey was a luxury ocean liner launched 10 October 1931; one of four ships in the Matson Lines "White Fleet" which included SS Malolo, SS Mariposa and SS Lurline. Monterey, the third of four Matson ships designed by William Francis Gibbs was identical to Mariposa and very similar to her sister ship Lurline.




Career with Matson Lines


Monterey was built to promote travel to Hawaii and for Pacific Ocean liner service including regular stops in ports along the West Coast of the United States, Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. On 12 May 1932 she took 83 passengers from New York City to the West Coast on a positioning cruise. Her maiden voyage officially began 3 June 1932 in San Francisco, California after which she made stops in Los Angeles, Honolulu, Auckland, Pago Pago, Suva, Sydney and Melbourne. She scored a public relations triumph when she carried much-appreciated supplies to the Bear of Oakland on Byrd's second expedition to the South Pole.[1]

War service


In World War II Monterey served as a fast troop carrier, often operating alone so she wouldn't be slowed by formation navigation in a convoy. The United States Marine Corps chartered her in 1941 before US declaration of war to carry 150 Chinese, Korean and Japanese missionaries and stranded US citizens back to San Francisco. Once home, she was quickly refitted to hold 3,500 soldiers. On 16 December 1941 she steamed to Hawaii with 3,349 fresh troops, returning with 800 casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

On 22 August 1942, the ship was briefly acquired by the U.S. Navy for use as a troopship and assigned the name and designation USS Alameda (AP-68), the second U.S. Navy ship to bear that name. However, she was returned to the War Shipping Administration on 25 September 1942 and thus never served under that name.[2][3]

War voyages

  • 1942 San Diego to Pago Pago filled to capacity with Marines[4]
  • 17 February 1942 San Francisco to Brisbane with 4,000 Army troops; convoy with Matsonia and Mormacsea[5][6]
  • 9 March 1942 arrived Brisbane
  • 22 April 1942 left San Francisco for Adelaide, Panama, Key West
  • 1 July 1942 New York to Glasgow with 5,800 troops
  • 9 August 1942 New York to Glasgow with 6,000 troops
  • 2 November 1942 convoy New York to Casablanca, arrived 16 November 1942
  • 14 January 1943 left New York in a convoy to Casablanca; arrived 25 January
  • 5 March 1943 New York to Casablanca
  • 1 April 1943 sailed alone to Casablanca; arrived 12 April
  • 29 April 1943 New York to Casablanca
  • 2 June 1943 New York to Panama
  • 26 June 1943 San Francisco to Brisbane, Panama
  • 1943 New York to Brazil
  • 21 August 1943 New York to Oran with the highest number of soldiers for a Matson ship: 6,855. Traveled in convoy.
  • 8 October 1943 New York to Liverpool with 6,747 troops; on to Gibraltar and Naples in convoy of 43 ships.
    • The voyage to Naples was her first taste of combat. 25 planes attacked the convoy on 6 November 1943 off the coast of Algeria. An enemy bomber tore away some of Monterey's radio mast before crashing into the ocean. In convoy, the Grace Line troopship Santa Elena was torpedoed and began to sink. Monterey rescued 1,675 using her boats and nets, taking the survivors to Naples.[7]
  • July 1944 Milne Bay to Oro Bay; ran aground, troops offloaded, ship refloated with the tide
  • 20 January 1945 left San Francisco with US and Canadian troops, as well as Royal Air Force personnel, for New Guinea
  • 4 February 1945 arrived Finschafen Harbor, New Guinea[8]

Post-war name changes


On 26 September 1946 the Monterey arrived at Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard in Alameda, California for refitting and return to passenger service with Matson. Money ran out on the project after 30% of the work had been completed. For five years she sat idle in Alameda, then was purchased by the US Government in August 1952. She was towed to the mothball fleet in nearby Suisun Bay.

Monterey to Matsonia


Meanwhile, Matson was enjoying fair post-war success with Lurline and was looking to expand their passenger operation once more. Matson had a C4 "Mariner" class vessel undergoing conversion to a cruise ship for the Oceania and Australasia region; this ship was originally named Free State Mariner but Matson had renamed her Monterey.[9] Matson bought the old mothballed SS Monterey back from the US Government on 3 February 1956 and had to come up with a new name for her: she was rechristened SS Matsonia, replacing their earlier Matsonia which had been sold to Home Lines in 1954 and subsequently renamed. The new Matsonia (ex-Monterey) first sailed from New York to San Francisco on 22 May 1957 to team up with her sister Lurline on the San Francisco-Los Angeles-Honolulu run.

 Matsonia to Lurline


Within five years, profits from passenger service had fallen to the point where Matson decided to anchor Matsonia indefinitely in San Francisco Bay. Sister ship Lurline continued to operate but suffered a major turbine problem in February, 1963; one that would require costly repairs. Instead of repairing Lurline, Matson sold the well-loved ship to Chandris Lines to be rechristened Ellinis. Stung by poor public opinion regarding the maneuver, Matson rechristened the former Matsonia (ex-Monterey) as the new Lurline on 6 December 1963 and returned her to service.

Lurline to Britanis


By 1970, passenger receipts were down so low that Matson chose to cease passenger liner service altogether. On 25 June 1970, Lurline arrived in San Francisco to be sold to Chandris Lines. Five days later she steamed under new ownership out of the Golden Gate toward Piraeus with the new name Britanis.

Service with Chandris Lines


At Piraeus, Britanis was greatly modified to hold 1,655 passengers, mainly by subdividing existing cabins and converting cargo holds to new cabin areas. She re-entered service on 21 February 1971, leaving Southampton bound for Sydney and back; a regular roundtrip she would make for three years. In 1974 she saw service as a cruise ship in the Caribbean during winter and Europe during the summer. In May, 1982 Britanis cruised between New York and Bermuda with a smaller capacity of 1,200 passengers.

In winter 1983-1984, Britanis sailed from Miami to the Caribbean, then sailed from New York in the summer. A major overhaul in 1986 included parts from her sister Ellinis (ex-Lurline), some of which went to Ellinis from Homeric (ex-Mariposa) when Homeric was scrapped in 1974. At this point, parts from three sister ships were now bound together in Britanis. The refit gave Britanis eight years of Caribbean cruising until 19 November 1994.

US Government charter


Britanis was chartered by the US Government in 1994 as a floating barracks for military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She suffered minor damage from an electrical fire, was repaired at US Government expense, then laid up at Tampa, Florida in late 1996.

Final years


Chandris opted to sell Britanis as part of a plan to cease cruise line operations. The ship was maintained in anchorage until 24 January 1998 when she was sold to AG Belofin Investments of Liechtenstein and renamed Belofin-1.

Her new owners intended to recoup their investment by selling the ship to scrappers, but a downturn in steel prices held them up for more than a year. On 3 July 2000 Belofin-1 was towed by the Ukrainian tug Iribis out of Tampa Bay with the CN Marine ferry Bluenose lashed to her port side. The group was bound for ship breakers in India. Belofin-1 began taking on water and listing during the voyage but nobody was on board to right the list. The tugboat crew cut her free and Belofin-1 capsized and sank due to progressive flooding some fifty miles off Cape Town South Africa on 21 October 2000.