She was launched in 1932 and christened, S.S. MONTEREY by Matson Lines. Over a 68 year illustrious life, with several different cruise line owners, she became the oldest continuously operated (with a few layup years) cruise ship afloat. Over all those years, when “cruising” became in turn very popular and, when air travel became faster and less expensive, almost dead for a time, she kept being retrofitted and modernized, often with spare parts from her scrapped sister ships. Her beautiful and majestic lines were known by various names over those decades (Monterey, Matsonia, Lurline, Britanis, and finally, as Belofin). On our one and only cruise on her in December, 1990, my wife and I knew and loved her as S.S. BRITANIS, and that’s what she’ll always be in our memories. We had a wonderful week on her, and we got to know every foot of her historic teak decks, inside and out.
Some famous people sailed on the S.S. Monterey/Britanis over many years. She was one of the fastest cruise ships afloat in those days and could hit 23 knots at full speed (about 26 m.p.h.) . The Rockefellers liked to sail on her in the 1930’s and 1940’s; Ronald Reagan and other Hollywood celebrities sailed on her in the 1960’s. Drafted into military service just before the start of WW11, she was sent to China where she rescued hundreds of Christian missionaries and stranded American citizens from the “tender mercies” of the Japanese who had invaded parts of China.. Right after Pearl Harbor, S.S. Monterey/Britanis was sent with 3500 troop reinforcements to Pearl Harbor, and she brought back 800 wounded service people and civilians to the U.S. mainland to recover.
When we were aboard her for our cruise in December, 1990, we met some Canadians who were having a reunion aboard her. They were among the mostly Canadian troops that Monterey/Britanis rescued in 1943 when their ship was torpedoed (more on that later). Toward the end of 1943 she was sent to Naples, Italy in a convoy. Because of her speed capability, Monterey/Britanis often sailed alone, being able to outrun German submarines (Uboats). It was on November 6, 1943, that Monterey/Britanis got her first taste of combat. In an action off of the coast of Cape Bogaroun, Algeria, German dive bombers attacked the convoy she was in. Monterey/Britanis shot down an enemy bomber (she was equipped with anti-aircraft guns then) that passed directly over her and tore away her radio mast before it crashed into the ocean.
In that same action, the troop ship, S.S. Santa Elena was torpedoed by a German submarine. Monterey/Britanis RESCUED 1675 Canadian troops (a few of whom we met at their reunion aboard her in December, 1990, at which time they told us the story) and took them to Naples. She was bought by Chandris Lines (now Celebrity Cruise Lines) in 1970 and re-named S.S. BRITANIS. She made several around the world cruises during those years, and usually sailed around Europe during the summer, and from Miami to the Caribbean during the winter. After a final around the world cruise in 1991, she was chartered by the U.S. Government in 1994 and served as a floating barracks for military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where an engine room fire damaged her engines.
We lost track of Britanis after she left government service in Cuba, but discovered that she was ultimately sold in 1998. She was tied up at a lonely dock in Tampa, Florida, left to molder away in proud silence for two years. Her new owners decided to scrap her, and arranged to tow her from Tampa Bay to the breakers in India. During the tow to India, S.S. Britanis began to take on water and began a serious list to port (left). No one was on board her to pump out the leaking water, and the list soon became too great to correct. The tow boat reluctantly cut her loose, and our beloved S.S. Britanis capsized and sank some 50 miles off Cape Town, South Africa in October, 2000.
It would have saddened us to hear that she had been broken up and scrapped after such a long and illustrious history. Our Britanis, I think, decided that for her “final cruise” it was more honorable and fitting that she descend into the depths of the Deep Blue Sea for her final resting place, rather than being melted down and converted into cars and refrigerators and razor blades. My wife couldn’t bear to look at the pictures of her capsizing and sinking, but I’m pleased that she “went down” intact, her honor and her history, much of her artwork and furniture, still in place. Rest in peace, S.S. Britanis. Thanks for the wonderful memories you gave us.
All of which brings us to the situation that Americans are facing this very moment. Our “Ship of State”, the country we know and love as The United States of America, has been sailing the seas of liberty since 1775. But many of her “passengers”---US—are now questioning whether or not we are on our country’s “final cruise”—final as in people living in a still free land under the protection of the U.S. Constitution, a document that our Founders sacrificed their lives, their fortunes, but NEVER their sacred honor to write and defend, forming a Constitutional Republic for which countless men and women have willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice to love, defend, and protect.
So, we who consider ourselves to be Patriots must ask the question: Is our “Ship of State’—our America that we have grown up in, that our parents and grandparents grew up in and, in some cases, died to protect, headed for the “shoals” of disaster? Some of her passengers believe that only a minor “course correction” is needed to bring her back to smooth waters, while others believe that the S.S. United States of America has ALREADY hit the iceberg of imminent financial chaos and the death of liberty, and is listing seriously to PORT, ready to founder into the dim annals of history as another temporary republic that lived for a short time amidst the vast array of countries ruled, and destroyed, by kings, tyrants, socialist despots, and collectivist fools (are you listening, Comrade Bernie Sanders?). It’s difficult to decide whether or not the U.S. is “taking on water” seriously, but for 100% certainty we ARE listing to “port”, and are in danger of foundering if corrections aren’t soon made.
Many Americans, myself included, believed that our S.S. United States of America was “captained” for 8 years by an agenda-driven, Marxist progressive devil, Barak Obama, who declared, time and again, how much he detested our American constitutional form of government, our culture, our “racist” heritage, and who condemned our history as nothing short of “cultural genocide”. His job as captain was sought by his cunning protégé, another Marxist progressive who has championed the cause of lying, of perfidy, of corruption, of criminal behavior at best, and treasonous behavior at worst. Her name is Hillary Clinton, in case you were unsure, and thank God she was defeated back in 2016 by a proud and true American PATRIOT, Donald Trump (imperfect, of course, because there are NO “perfect” people, but surely a patriot, unlike the despicable Hillary, who considers patriotic and religious folks to be “deplorable”!) . Unfortunately for the survival of our S.S. United States, there is a “herd” of equally dangerous and progressive and pandering members of The Klan of New Bolsheviks (formerly Democrats) who are trying to take up the mantle of “Hildabeast Hillary”, promising in increasing desperation that they are the ones who can promise the greatest number of “freebies” to the confused and often gullible American people.
It is not only my contention, but also that of countless other “passengers” on our S.S. United States of America, that not only is our noble vessel almost awash in the seas of political disaster and looming financial catastrophe, but that it may already be too late to “pump out” the leftist and progressive bilge that is foundering our once strong and honorable ship. Whether or not our Captain on the bridge—Donald Trump—can keep us from foundering into destruction and loss of our liberties, and into the financial chaos caused by our ever-increasing national debt, or is really a “deceiver”, only time will tell, for ONLY our Heavenly Father knows. Sadly, a portion of the “crew” of our S.S. USA has decided to “mutiny” against our “Captain Trump” and tried to make him walk the “impeachment plank”. Since they’re a “scurvy lot”, they’ll undoubtedly continue to try to make our harassed “Captain” “walk the plank” again. It’s clear that the Pirates of Perdition are circling our “Ship of State”, awaiting the time that it founders with all hands—namely US!! Whether or not “Captain Trump” can keep us from sinking like our wonderful S.S. Britanis did, or if we’re all doomed to “go down with the ship”, remains to be seen. Whether we, the people of the U.S. care enough to prevent our “sinking”, is a question still awaiting an answer!