The company W.R. Grace & Co. was formed in New York in 1865 by William Russell Grace, after his family had already founded a shippingcompany in Callao, Peru from the mid 1800's onwards. The distance between the two cities was the main focus of the company from the 1880's onwards, which they sailed with a series of freighters under the British flag. Later, also a service between the US westcoast and South America was established and in 1913, the company added their first passengership, named Santa Cruz. The ship measured 4846 tons and had space aboard for 48 passengers. She was also their first American-flagged ship.
From 1916 onwards, the seperate lines of the company were merged under the name of Grace Steamship Company, concentrating on services between the US and the westcoast of South America, later also sailing services within the Caribbean. From 1916 onwards, the passengerservices were also built up for a service between New York and South America and the companies fleet was rapidly expanded. In the years 1932 and 1933, Grace Line took delivery of the four-ship Santa Rosa class, but during the second worldwar, all ships built before 1939, except the Santa Rosa and her sister Santa Paula had been lost. After the war, these two ships sailed as the line's flagships, but in the mid 1950's, they needed to be replaced with modern tonnage.
The ships that were going to replace them were recieving the same names. Designed by Gibbs & Cox, the designers of the earlier pair as well as the American flagships America and United States, the new sisters were built at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock company at Newport News.On june 28th, 1957, the first of the new ships was launched as Santa Paula and the second ship Santa Rosa was launched on august 28th of the same year, exactly two months behind her sister.
Below, The Emerald is pictured at Rhodes, Greece. The date of this picture is june the 17th, 2003, sailing in charter for the British company Thomson Holidays.
Santa Rosa was built under yardnumber 521 and she measured 15.371 tons. The ship was 177,88 meters long, 25,61 meters wide and her draft measured 8,38 meters. She was able to sail at a speed of 20 knots, driven by two General Electric designed turbinesthat turned two propellers. Aboard, there was room for 300 passengers and 246 crewmembers. At the 12th of june 1958, the ship was delivered to Grace Line and started her sailings between New York and central and south America. Lessons learned in the United States were incorporated in the ships, so a lot of aluminium was used in the ships interiours. The ships also had large public rooms and spacious cabins with private facilities, innovative to the line. As true combiliners, also the freighthandling was superefficient, as the ships were eauipped with sidehandling doors for two of the holds. The ship had a misfortune at the 26th of march 1959, when she collided with the tanker Valchem close to Atlantic City. A fire broke out aboard Santa Rosa, which destroyed the forward part of the ship, and sadly, one crewmembers of the tanker lost his life.
In 1969, W.R. Grace decided to end the steamship business and sold the grace Line to Prudential Lines, a small company owned by Skouras of 20th Century Fox. In 1970, the company became Prudential Grace Line, losing the Grace name to become just Prudential Lines. The former flagships were not part of the fleet at that time, as they were laid-up at Hampton Roads in january 1971 because they were not economical to run anymore.
For years, the Santa Rosa stayed in lay-up, in Newport News and later Baltimore. It took several owners and many years, as only in december of 1989, the ship was towed to Chalkis, Greece where she was to be rebuilt into a cruiseliner for Coral Cruise Line. Rebuilding began in march of 1990 and took untill 1992; There, the ship emerged as shown on the picture above, almost unrecognizable as her former self. The upper decks were totally rebuilt and the superstructure extended both forward and aft. Also, the ship recieved a newly designed funnel. After she left the wharf, she measured 26.431 tons and there was space aboard for 1172 passengers and 420 crewmembers at ten passengerdecks. Although it was sad that the shippingworld had lost a traditional looking liner, she was still more fortunate then her sister. The Santa Paula had been rebuilt into a hotel at Kuwait, opening in 1980. At that time, the space where she was moored in the port was dried and heightened so her hull only touched ground and she was classified as a building, the Kuwait Mariott Hotel. She didn't last forever, though. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, the hotel, then named Ramada Al Salem Hotel, was bombed and set ablaze, only to be fit for breaking. Several parts of her machinery that were still intact, were later built into her sistership.
The new name for Santa Rosa became Regent Rainbow, sailing for Regency Cruises out of Tampa, Florida from january 1993 onwards. When Regency failed in october 1995 the ship was laid-up again and one year later sold to Louis Cruise Lines. Again slightly rebuilt in early 1997, the ship emerged again as The Emerald, sailing mostly in charter for Thomson Cruises from may 1997 onwards, although also used by Louis Cruise Lines themselves. Because it seemed too costly to up[date the ship to the new SOLAS (Safety Of Lives At Sea) rules for 2010, the ship was finally laid-up for a last time in that year. Several plans were there for her to be saved, but she was finally beached at Alang, India at the 14th of august 2012.