United States Lines’ Washington was launched on 20 August 1932 at the New York Shipbuilding Corp in Camden, New Jersey.
Not to be confused with George Washington (1909), a German liner operated by Norddeutscher Lloyd, United States Lines’ Washington was named after the US capital, not the president.
The 24,289 GRT Washington was 705 feet long and 86 feet at beam. Parsons steam turbines drove twin screws to propel the liner at a rated speed of 20.5 knots. For most of her civilian career, Washington carried 1,130 passengers in three classes.
In 1934, Washington joined her sister ship Manhattan on a New York-Hamburg run. After the Neutrality Act effectively barred sailings to Germany, both liners switched to a New York-Naples-Genoa route in December 1939. After Italy declared war on Britain and France in June 1940, Washington and Manhattan were assigned a New York-San Francisco route via the Panama Canal.
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