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Cape Juby

Cape Juby

A stern view of the Military Sealift Command Ready Reserve Force ship SS CAPE JUBY ( 9T-AK ) undergoing conversion at the Norfolk Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corporation. To the right is a former United States Lines freighter also being converted to a Ready Reserve Force ship.

Scene Camera Operator: Don S. Montgomery, USN ( Ret ).

Source: The U.S. National Archives. ( Combined Military Digital Photographic Files ).

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The ship at the right is a US Lines Lancer Class containership. None of the Lancers were a part of the Ready Reserve Force Fleet and I suspect that this one was being prepared for use by Navieras de Puerto Rico which operated several Lancers after United States Lines went bust. They later went on to sail for Sea-land, CSX Lines, and Horizon Lines after the demise of Navieras if my memory serves correctly. Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock is now known as BAE Ship Systems.

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All of those "Lancers" were modified at different times with raised superstructures so they all ended up looking a little bit different from one another. However, this one looks as though she were the first of the class to be completed, the American Lancer, the original superstructure of which was one deck lower then all the others when originally built. After U.S. Lines went out of business the American Lancer was sold to Navieras de Puerto Rico and renamed Humacao, and she was finally retired in 2002. This picture may have been taken right after she was taken over by Navieras. I know the ships pretty well because I sailed on three of them over the years, including the Humacao, which I sailed on in 1998.

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I remember docking the Lancer class ships in Oakland Inner Harbor on many occasions. One Captain whose name escapes me was a fine gentleman and was US Lines Commodore and had been master of the United States.
US Lines was trying to cut costs and it had been set up to turn these ships with one tug of about 2,000 HP. The channel is 900' wide at this point and the ships are 700' long. If there was a ship at the dock where we'd turn, that gave you about 800' of width in the channel which left about 50' of clearance on each end. As there is substantial current at this location and the clearance was too small to use the ship's engines to assist with the turn, there were a few nail biters waiting for the tug to turn the ship as the channel narrowed as the ship set with the current. All to save a few bucks!
Piloting has certainly changed in the US as the emphasis is on safety today, not the economics of saving the ship owner a few bucks.

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