American Star

karbine
26th April 2007, 15:37
Hi All,

Last night i spent a few hours reading up on the American star and found it very interesting reading.

I also came across this great photo of her in...well kind of 'whole':
http://www.flare.net/users/e9ee52a/American38.1.jpg

Also these photos onboard her:
http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/australis/wreck.html

The wreck (almost gone by now) can be seen how much a few months of the sea it can handle:

http://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer04/fu0517.jpg
Before + 2 months later
http://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer04/fu0516.jpg

Although the most amazing photos came from Ingo Turtenwald

He writes:
... I believe that I took those in the summer of 2002 (maybe 2003 but not later). I paddled across with a surfboard. The ladder on the starboardīs wall was easily accessible and in good condition. The way up is very beautiful. The flaking off paint, the rust ... I remember well. And the view. On the deck, you had to hold on tight. Because of the salty surface, it was slippery like soft soap and the ship was leaning enough that you could easily slide down portside. In the hallways, there was lots of junk. You had to climb around. At the bow is a hatch or something similar. You can watch the ocean flushing the hull.

I tied the surfboard with its leash to the bottom of the ladder. Partly it was hanging; partly it was swimming. Then, you could reach the ladder only with the help of an additional rope. There were one to two meters missing; however, you could pull yourself up without a problem. There were no difficulties on the way back either. I was only very careful to win distance from the ship quickly. It seems there was a strong undercurrent alongside and you certainly gain respect. Anyway, everything is written much easier than done and I do not want this to be mistaken as instructions. You will risk your life and maybe one or the other underestimates the distance from the beach because of the enormous size of the wreck ...

Kind regards,
Ingo Turtenwald

http://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer04/fuingt1.jpghttp://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer04/fuingt2.jpg


There are also a few good points i was reading about the wreck being an insurance claim which went wrong:

1. Why was the ship being towed to Taiwan via the Mediterranean, out to sea, down the west coast of Africa and up to Taiwan. This would take it through a treacherous area of sea known as " Cape of Good Hope " and then up to Taiwan, is this not strange ? One would think that it would be both safer and more economical to have just towed her along the Mediterranean out through the Suez Canal / Red Sea and onto Taiwan.
Notes added 2005 - after asking the right questions to certain people, I have ascertained that you are not permitted to tow a ship through the Suez Canal, this would answer my original question, but on the same token, it has been stated that it was not the right time of year to tow the ship through the waters where she was going and the tow should have been during a different time of year to take in more favourable weather.

2. Why, allegedly, did the shipyard not know the American Star was on her way?
One cannot park an ocean liner outside the front office and say "fix er up when you have a spare moment"
Notes added 2005 - this is still current, I have received no further information and apparently the yard did not know the ship was on her way.

3. Why, when the ship was undertow, and when an Australian syndicate allegedly offered the owner a price far exceeding that of her worth and promises to take over the tow and bring her to Australia, they were knocked back?
Notes added 2005 - this is still current, I have received no further information and talking direct with Bob Stone many years ago (the Australian Syndicate) he pleaded with the owner to transfer the tow to Melbourne Australia, offering to pay for the tow and a respectful amount of money, the ship appeared to have been insured to the hilt

4. Why was the ship being towed to Taiwan in the worst time possible, that been winter, when storms are a guarantee?
Would it not have been safer to travel along the route I mentioned, or at least when the winter months storms had subsided. After all Tanker captains have allegedly commented that they would not take a ship on that route, especially under tow at that time of year.
Notes added 2005 - As per Question 1

5. Why, during the storm and the loss of tow, did the 4 crewmen on board not drop either one or all of her 3 anchors?
The America had 3 anchors - 2 bow and 1 stern. It is my understanding that all you need to do is unwind the manual brake and in the event the anchors are 'stuck' all that is required is a bit of a bang with a Sledge Hammer and the anchors will fall. Power, it is my understanding, is only required to winch them back up. By dropping the anchors, playing out all the chain for maximum grip, she could have been stopped from beaching herself.
Notes added 2005 - Ok, lets go 2 anchors; it would appear the rear anchor "may" have been removed to accommodate the use of the rear hawser for a specially fitted drogue sea anchor to slow the ship down in heavy seas. The ship kept overtaking the tug and was returned to Pireaus to have this drag mechanism fitted. However, I am correct, research and talking to people and watching the 2 other ships I have been on, it's a simple matter of loosening the holding chain via loosening a manual mechanism, removing the clamp on the chain and releasing the brake. The anchor free falls of its own accord, it is only weighing anchor that the winches are required - so my question still remains, why were her anchors not "let go" as she neared the shore by the crew on board ?

6. Is it really impossible for 2 tugboats to not get a line on board during a period of 2 days and nights?
Notes added 2005 - I now understand the seas were still incredibly rough so its possible that a line could not be made, but why not drop anchor for crying out loud ?

7. Why was she not salvaged immediately, and refloated?
Notes added 2005 - Heres another question for you, why once the ship ran aground did the tug who was ordered into port to answer questions make out it was heading to the Spanish port and suddenly do a runner? Yes, the tug took off at high speed, the Spanish Govt sent a helicopter out in pursuit, the tug ignored commands to stop and left the Spanish waters prior to the Spanish Patrol boat catching up with it

Who knows, however it would seem that arguments between the owner, Spanish authorities and the Insurance Company (did they suspect foul play) caused a delay which dropped the flag on her fate. These arguments caused time to lapse and the grand lady to split in two. By looking at the video it would seem that the America split at her weakest point, a series of elevator shafts that went from the top decks to the holds.


Lots more reading at : http://www.ss-australis.com

gdynia
26th April 2007, 15:41
Ben
Shifted it to the Wrecks Site

karbine
26th April 2007, 18:33
Gdynia,

Sorry about the wrong location. Thanks for moving though.

Aristo
29th April 2007, 00:10
It is amazing that she lasted for over a decade in such an exposed position. This is surely a tribute to her builders.

Karbine have a look also at:
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/60643/cat/523

and at:

http://www.explorermagazin.de/amstar/index2_e.htm
where there are several pages on her.

karbine
29th April 2007, 21:20
http://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer06/fu06amstar5_e.htm Great interior photos here

The hatch is open here,looks jammed open. Take it this is from people looking for things onboard?:

http://www.explorermagazin.de/fuer06/fu0668G.jpg

aadje
30th May 2007, 23:06
Kindly see undermentioned site of the spanish surveyors:

http://www.flare.net/users/e9ee52a/America%20Pictures%20by%20Rafael%20Pastor%20Bedoya .htm

as well as the ken iron's site:

http://www.ssaustralishomepage.co.uk/

interesting stories, pictures made by crew and passengers as well photographs made of the wreck by tourists. The wreck is now nearly gone and to its end for which see the update pages.

b/regards
aadje