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Cruise Line History – PANAMA PACIFIC LINES finished – From 1938 TIME MAGAZINE

Many American flag steamship lines — APL, Matson, Moore-McCormick, Grace, etc. — faced a similar fate as Panama Pacific Lines did when the US withdrew their mail and operating subsidies to carry military personnel in the 1960s. The same fate happened to the American railway system in the late 1960s when the US withdrew railway post offices. The result was that the USA has no real American passengers ships, is stuck with a struggling rail service called Amtrak and the mail continues to decline in service.   So much for progress.

This is the Time Magazine announcing the end of the Panama Pacific Lines…

From the May 9, 1938 issue of TIME MAGAZINE



SS California – Transiting the Panama Canal – 1930s…

When the S.S. California was built for the Panama Pacific Line in 1928, she was the largest (17,833 tons) commercial ship ever constructed on U. S. ways, the largest in the world with electric propulsion. Last week, when the California tied up at Pier 61, Manhattan, near her idle sisters, Pennsylvania and Virginia, it was the first time the three vessels had ever been in port together, the last time any one of them would slip a hawser for Panama Pacific.

Panama Pacific’s coffin had three big nails in it: Last June, after Congress withdrew all ocean mail subsidies, empowering the Maritime Commission to make a new deal, Panama Pacific lost its annual $450,000 mail subsidy and got nothing in its place. Beginning nine weeks ago, the Panama Canal changed toll charges in such a way that Panama Pacific’s annual expenses would have been increased about $37,000. Third coffin nail was a rusty West Coast labor problem.

As the line prepared last week to dismiss 1,200 men for good & all, Panama Pacific expressed the hope that the Maritime Commission would buy the three idle ships, charter them for operation by other companies between New York and the east coast of South America.


From a 1937 magazine advertisement. A year before Panama Pacific Line ended service.

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