SS America was an ocean liner built in 1940 for the United States Lines and designed by the noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs. She carried many names in the 54 years between her construction and her 1994 wrecking, as she served as the SS America (carrying this name three different times during her career), the USS West Point, the SS Australis, the SS Italis, the SS Noga, the SS Alferdoss, and the SS American Star. She served most notably in passenger service as the SS America, and as the Greek-flagged SS Australis for Chandris. In 1941, she carried two Nazi spies from the Duquesne Spy Ring in her crew: Erwin Wilhelm Siegler and Franz Joseph Stigler. Both men were charged by the FBI with espionage and sentenced to 10 years and 16 years’ imprisonment, respectively.
In February 1993, the ship was sold yet again, with the intention of being refitted to become a five-star hotel ship off Phuket, in Thailand. Drydocking at that time revealed that despite the years of neglect, her hull was still in remarkably good condition. In August she was renamed American Star, her propellers were removed and placed on the deck, the funnel and bridge were painted red, and ladders were welded to starboard. She left Greece on December 22, 1993 under tow, but the tow proved impossible due to the weather. She then returned to Greece for a few days until the weather calmed down. On New Year’s Eve 1993, American Star left Greece for the last time, towed by Ukrainian tugboat Neftegaz 67.
The one hundred day tow began; American Star and Neftegaz 67 entered a thunder storm in the Atlantic. The tow lines broke and six or more men were sent aboard American Star to reattach the emergency tow lines. This proved unsuccessful. Two other towboats were called to assist Neftegaz 67. On January 17, the crew aboard American Star was rescued by helicopter. The ship was left adrift. On January 18, the ship ran aground off the west coast of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.
photography by Donibane
found on darkroastedblend.com