Grace Line's Santa Maria

In 1928 to meet competition from the Pacific Steam Navigation Company and the Chilean Line, Grace took delivery of SANTA BARBARA and SANTA MARIA, which were a great improvement over previous ships. As it was then permissable to build ships in foreign countries for U.S. flag operation and retain eligibility for mail contracts, these sisters were constructed by the Furness Shipbuilding Company in Haverton-on-tees, England. Each had two 8-cylinder, 2 cycle Sulzer diesel engines of 4000 hp. apiece. They were the first large motor passenger ships to sail under the U.S. flag.

1928 Grace Line advertisement appearing in Travel Magazine

Bought by the US Navy in 1940

  • Type: Passenger / general cargo
  • Displacement: 8,060 tons
  • Dimensions: 486 x 64 ft.
  • Machinery: Diesels, twin screws = 16.5 knots
  • Troops: 1,350

  • Builder: Furness Shipbuilding Co, Haverton-on-Tees, England, 1928
  • Launched: 15 Aug 1927
  • Commissioned: 25 Sep 1940
  • Decommissioned: 21 May 1946

  • Service: Built for Grace Line as Santa Maria. Sistership Santa Barbara and near-sister Santa Clara. Together these were the first large motor passenger ships to sail under the U.S. flag. Service was New York to West Coast of South America via the Panama Canal. Taken into Navy in Sep 1940 as transport Barnett, AP-11, named in honor of George Barnett, Commandant of the Marine Corps during WW1 (1914-20). The ship earned seven battle stars for WW2 service. After one early trip to Great Britain, she moved to the Pacific. Transported survivors of USS Lexington from the Coral Sea back to San Diego in May 1942, then joined the invasion of Guadalcanal, 7 Aug 1942. Evacuated survivors of USS Vincennes and HMAS Canberra from Savo Island action to Noumea. Made additional reinforcement runs to Solomons in fall 1942. Overahauled at San Diego and redesignated APA-5 in Feb 1943. Sent back to Atlantic, she participated in the invasion of Sicily, 10 Jul 1943, where she recived minor damage in an air raid, and in the Salerno landings 9 Sep 1943. After refit in U.S., she participated in the Normandy landings at Utah beach, 6 Jun 1944, and later in the invasion of Southern France in Aug. Returned to the U.S. for overhaul and then back to Pacific, joining for the Okinawa invasion, 1 Apr 1945. Following the war, she was passed to the Maritime Commission in 1946, and then sold to become the Italian immigrant ship Surriento. Sister Santa Barbara became transport McCawley, AP-10, APA-4; she was sunk off New Georgia 30 Jun 1943. Near-sister Santa Clara became transport Susan B. Anthony, AP-72; she was lost off Normandy 7 Jun 1944.


Sold to the Lauro Fleet 1949


Surriento (1949-66)

The first true passenger ship in the Lauro fleet. Built as the Grace Line's Santa Maria, Surriento was bought in 1949 and refitted to carry 187 first class and 868 tourist class passengers on the Australian migrant trade. Originally, she retained her two funnels from Grace Line days, reduced to one when refitted in in 1959. She was scrapped in 1966.
A Lauro company postcard of Surriento.
A Lauro company postcard of Surriento.
In 1959 Surriento was rebuilt again, with a single funnel. Accommodation was rearranged for 1080 tourist class passengers, and she served on the Italy-Caribbean route. She was scrapped in 1966.
A pre-war Grace Line passenger list and route map. 



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