American Export Lines’ Independence (1951) was launched on 3 June 1950, beginning a long and often turbulent life.
A compact, sturdy liner, the 23,719 GRT Independence was 682 feet long and 89 feet at beam. She had a rated speed of 22 knots and could carry up to 1,000 passengers.
Built in Qunicy, Massachusetts, by Bethlehem Steel, Independence sailed on her maiden voyage on 11 February 1951 (a Mediterranean cruise). On 12 April 1951, Independence began New York-Genoa service (later switched to New York-Naples). Within months, she was joined in American Export’s Mediterranean service by her nearly identical sister ship, Constitution.
In an effort to combat increasing airline competition, Independence was rebuilt for cruising in 1959. Yet poor management and labor strife over the next several years made Independence a money loser. In 1968, she was laid up in Baltimore.
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