Andria in Brownsville, Texas, 1959
These two sisterships, Andria and Alastia, I can honestly say, are the finest ships I have sailed on
in 35 years at sea. Between the two, I spent 5 years on them and was sorry
to transfer to another ship!
They were built for the Silver Line in 1948, to carry 12 passengers in style on the world-wide trade. They were bought by Cunard, Alsatia (formerly Silverplane) in 1951 and Andria (formerly Silverbriar) in 1952, and were used for purely general cargo, and the passenger accommodation was used by the Officers. Their ward-rooms were the original passenger lounges and were built as half-timbered pubs, with inglenook fireplaces and oak beams and appropriate furniture. The Alsatia's was decorated with antique swords, daggers and pewter plates and mugs, while the Andria's had antique guns, muskets and pewter mugs and plates. They had a grand staircase amidships from the Purser's Bureau on the Main deck, dividing halfway, to port and starboard, with a grand landing on the Promenade deck. Potted palms and leather settees abounded in the public areas.
They were 503ft 6ins in length, 65ft beam, of 7,228 Gross tons, closed shelter-deck, 5 hatches, 4 deep tanks for vegetable oils in No.3 hatch, two 'tween decks, with a long forecastle, on which was No.1 hatch, and a long boat deck with No.3 hatch trunked between their two funnels. They were engined with Parsons Marine steam turbines, driving a single screw, giving them a service speed of 17.5 knots - veritable greyhounds of their time, and fast for their type even today. Their fuel consumption of over 50 tons per day plus 2 tons diesel for generators did not make them economical by today's standards!
Their most obvious characteristic - I think unique for cargo vessels - was that they had two funnels and almost looked like mini Queen Elizabeths! They were certainly always taken for passenger ships wherever they went. The forward funnel was a dummy and the Captain's accomodation occupied the root at boat deck level. The deck above housed the radio shack and the chartroom. Above that was the radar shack and above that was the bridge lookout deck. Cunard employed them on the North Atlantic trade, based in King George V Dock, London (now London City Airport), calling at Southampton for bunkers and loading at Le Havre and Glasgow for New York, mainly carrying (British) cars, wines and spirits. They also occasionally carried currency and bullion in their strongrooms. Latterly, they were employed on the Canadian trade to Quebec and Montreal.
In 1963 they were sold to Taiwan. "Alsatia" was renamed "Union Freedom" and "Andria" was renamed "Union Faith". The Union Faith met a grisly end in collision with oil barges on the Mississippi on the 6th April 1969. The ship was engulfed in flames and sank, with the loss of 25 persons, including all on the bridge. See report