Cargo Ships

With passenger accommodations...
Con lugar para pasajeros...
By Ariel Blondet
Another term associated with the Porto Rican migration to New York was cargo ship. Why, do you ask? Because there was an element of New Yorkers that believed that many Porto Ricans arrived on cargo ships. There is reason to believe that there is some truth to that sentiment.  There were two types of ships that carried passengers on the San Juan to New York run. There were the passenger ships that also carried cargo and there were cargo ships that also carried passengers.

After Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, it was possible for a ship to arrive in New York with the capacity to carry up to 12 passengers and still be classified as a cargo ship. These ships were also called freighters. A capacity higher than 12 travelers would require the steam ship company to apply for a passenger certificate.

Informative Notes
In 1924 the New York & Porto Rican steamship line purchased the SS Coamo II. Its passenger capacity was 350. Her cold storage compartments were also refrigerated.

During WW II, on December 2, 1942 (other sources give the date of December 9, 1942). The SS Coamo II was sunk by a German submarine with the loss of its entire crew of 133 merchant marines.

The following ships were also lost, the SS Isabela on May 19, 1942 and the SS San Jacinto on April 22, 1942. The SS San Juan also sank after colliding with another war ship on July 30, 1941. (1)
Otro término asociado con la migración puertorriqueña a Nueva York fue la de "cargo ship". ¿Se pregunta usted porque? Porque hubo un elemento en Nueva York que según ellos, los portorriqueños llegaron en barco de carga. Este sentimiento tiene mérito porque hubo dos tipos de barco. Uno fue de pasajeros y carga y el otro fue de carga y pasajeros.

Después de la promulgación del acta "Merchant Marine Act of 1936", aprobado por el congreso de los Estados Unidos, los vapores con la capacitad de transportar hasta 12 pasajeros, se clasificaban como barco de carga. Si más de 12, la compañía de vapor tenía que aplicar por un certificado de pasajeros por cada barco.

Notas Informativas
En 1924 la Porto Rican & New York Steamship Company mando a construir El barco SS Coamo II con la capacidad de 350 pasajeros y el armazón de cargamento operado con un sistema de refrigeración.

Durante la segunda guerra mundial. En el día 2 de diciembre de 1942, (algunos dicen el día 9) el vapor Coamo II fue atacado y hundido por un submarino Alemán. No hubo sobrevivientes. Las perdidas de vida fueron, 133 marineros mercantes.

Otros barcos que se hundieron fueron los siguientes, el vapor Isabela, 19 de Mayo de 1942, el vapor San Jacinto, 22 de Abril de 1942. Y el vapor San Juan que se hundió después de un choque con otro barco el día 30 de Julio de 1941. (1)



    (1)  An American Ship Line: The Porto Rico Line, by Rodney H. Mills in Steamboat Bill. Num. 223, Fall 1997,
          p.188-192. A Journal of the Steamship Historical Society of America.


         Mr. Ariel Blondet is a member of the Puerto Rican Hispanic Genealogical Society and the Sociedad
         Puertorriqueña de Genealogía.






Copyright © October 2001 - 2003, Dalia Morales
The Intro: Copyright © January 2003, Ariel Blondet
Revised: January 30, 2003
URL:  Puerto Rico: My Ancestors and Their Descendants
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