Sun Ship's first combination freighter-RO/RO would have been the U.S.N.S Comet Sun Hull 601, which was launched July, 31, 1957. Our next combination freighter-RO/RO was the Adm.Wm.M.Callaghan and our first 'trailership' was the S.S. Ponce de Leon, Sun Hull 647, which was launched on Nov. 16, 1967, a span of 10 years from the launch of the Comet. From this point on, Sun's marketing and design expertise made us a major player in the RO/RO marketplace for the next 11 years. Based on an inquiry from Capt. Earl Loftfield of the El Yunque (Hull 674), we calculated the 'Service Years' compiled from the Ponce de Leon to the Westward Venture totaled 366 years, or an average of 36 years per ship. A significant record for a class-of-ships contributable to both Sun Ship and the vessels owners. D.Kavanagh
The following is a summary of the Sun Ship's trailerships and their current status courtesy of Miramar Ship Index and others.
Note: Please contact SSHS to correct any errors or to supply additional information (See home page for email)
Sun Ship and the Trailerships
The following was transcribed, in part, from an article in the 'Marine Survey' Magazine, c:1976?. If any of this information is in error, please let us know. (See home page for email)
Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., completed the trailership Westward Venture (later renamed Atlantic Bear) in May 1976, and laid the keel of a sister ship, Hull No. 675, in June. The Atlantic Bear is being operated by Pacific Far East Line in its new "Seabridge Service" to the Middle East. These vessels are 790' overall, 92 ft wide, and 60 ft deep, and have a tonnage of 18,000 gross with 30,000 hp turbines. Also under contract to ABS classification at Sun is an 875-ft trailership with a width of 105 ft and a depth of 76 ft. This vessel will be of 30,000 gross tons or 14,797 dead-weight tons, propelled by triple screws at 33 knots with a total of 150,000 hp. (Note: Believe this was Sun's 'Large-Fast' ship design, cancelled hull 665).
The proprietary design of these trailerships was developed at Sun. The goal was a high-speed ship of the shelter deck type. Reasons of reliability and economy pointed to the selection of a single-screw, double-boiler, geared steam propulsion. Depending on the available port facilities, cargo on the Sun vessels is loaded and discharge through cargo openings, or ports, and ramps on either the starboard or port sides of the stern of the vessel. Shore-side ramps are winched up to reach the cargo doors, which give access to the second deck of the vessel, and shore-based tractors do the loading and unloading. A ramp compensating tank on the port side of the vessel counteracts the weight of the ramps. The deck heights provide for normal trailers of 13 ft 6 inches on the second deck, third deck forward, the tank top in holds one and two and on the main deck. Trailers of 12 ft 6 inches or other wheeled cargo can be accommodated on the third deck aft and the tank top in hold number three.
The trailers are secured to the deck through the use of Sun Ship's patented "Roloc" system.. The Roloc system is built around a portable steel box called the Roloc box. For loading operations, a tractor moves the Roloc box inder the forward end of the trailer, and with this backing movement, secures the box to the trailer's "fifth wheel" plate. The tractor and trailer with Roloc box attached are driven on board the trailership, where the tractor backs the trailer / roloc box into it's assigne trailer space. A deck securing "button" serves as a lockdown point. Two cable lashings secured the the trailer's after end quickly completes the stowage. Capacity for 40 ft trailers would be 60 refrigerated and 218 dry for a total of 278 trailers plus 129 standard automobiles. Capacity for 28 ft trailers would be 100 refrigerated and 327 dry for a total of 427 plus 90 standard automobiles.
A second Sun standard design exists for a "stretched" trailership. A 90-ft midbody may be incorporated into a new vessel or inserted into an existing standard ship, giving an overall lenght of 790 ft. Other additions include a spar deck with ramp and an elevator from the third deck t the tank top in hold 2A. The capacity figures are enlarged to 390 40-ft trailers and 126 standard automobiles or 600 28-ft trailers and 90 standard automobiles.
Last year, the eighth vessel in this series to be built by Sun, the Great Land, was the first trailership built by Sun for its own operator (TOTE) and also was the first to sail in the Alaskan trade. The ship plies a route between Tacoma, Washington and Anchorage, Alaska, a distance of 1,441 miles, which she routinely covers in two and one-half days at a speed of 24 knots. The 790 ft El Taino built by Sun in 1974, and lengthened in February 1976, has also been used in the Alaskan Trade.
The other Sun-built, ABS-classed, 700 ft RO/RO ships are the Ponce de Leon (1968), Eric K. Holzer (1970), Fortaleza (1972), Lurline and Matsonia (1973) and Puerto Rico (1975). Besides these vessels, the Hawaiian Monarch (Note 2) and Hawaiian Queen (Note 3), originally built in 1944 by Sun, were lengthened to 606 ft and converted in 1965 to vehicle carriers handling both automobiles and containers by Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding for the Matson Navigation Company
Note 1: This information was made possible by the Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE, USA, who has the original article.
Note 2: Hawaiian Monarch : ex-Marine Dragon. 1965 purchased by Matson renamed 'Hawaiian Monarch', 1978 renamed Maunalei (2). 1982 laid up, 1986 scrapped. She was Sun Hull 346, the Marine Dragon, launched Jan 15, 1944 as a troop transport. (Courtesy SSHS)
Note 3: Hawaiian Queen: ex-Marine Devil. 1965 purchased by Matson renamed Hawaiian Queen, 1978 renamed Maunalei. 1980 Still active.
She was Sun Hull 344, the Marine Devil, launched Oct 18, 1943 as a troop transport. (Courtesy SSHS)