S.S. Brasil

Launched December 16, 1957  /  Delivered September 4, 1958


Courtesy of Capt. Tom Ellsworth Copyright © 2003-2004 - All rights reserved. Do not reproduce.

If anyone wants copies, please e-mail Tom at tbells@cox.net.



Official No.           277363

Hull No.                       467

Net Tonnage:          6026

Gross Tonnage:   15257



Deadweight:    5696

LOA:                  617'6"

LBP:                  570'0"

Beam:                 84'



Draft:        27'3"

Dwt.:          5958

SHP:        35000



Net:                   6026

Displ.:             22590

Speed:         23 KTS.

Passengers:      557



The S.S. Brazil carried the American spelling of the country.  The newly built S.S. Brasil carries the Portuguese spelling of the country.  Apparently, according to Bill Miller, "Pictorial History of American Passenger Liners," the spelling was at the request of the Brasilian government. 

September 10, 1955

The United States Federal Maritime Board decided that the Federal Government should contribute about $20,000,000 toward the cost of building two new passenger liners for Moore-McCormack Lines.  The best bid came from a United States yard, Ingalls, at $24,444,181 per ship.

July 6, 1956

Although the ship was still to be named, the keel of the S.S. Brasil was laid.

1956 -1958

Two new sister ships, the S.S. Brasil and the S.S. Argentina were built at Ingalls Shipyards, Pascagoula, Mississippi, for Moore-McCormack Lines  to replace the ships built in 1928. They were built as luxury ocean liners, later becoming cruise ships and were the last passenger ships built in the U.S.  She is the second to last American-built passenger luxury ocean liner, having been built from parts of all of the 48 states of the United States.  Since her sister ship is now only a memory, she is the last American-built passenger luxury ocean liner AFLOAT.

December 16, 1957

1400 hrs.

S.S. Brasil  was the 186th vessel christened and launched at the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, Pascagoula, Mississippi.  Mrs. Emmet J. McCormack (wife of the Chairman of the Board) christened the ship.

August 24, 1958

The command of the S.S. Brasil with a rank as commodore of the Moore-McCormack Lines has been given to Captain Thomas Simmons.  Captain Simmons is the first commodore in the 45-year history of the company.  Captain Robert H. Bradsell has been assigned to the S.S. Brasil as staff captain.  Captain Bradsell is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy and has spent 14 years in the company's service.  He has commanded more than 20 of Moore-McCormack's 47 vessels. 

Captain Simmons will shortly go to Pascagoula for the final fitting out of the new ship and observe her speed trials.

September 4, 1958

After leaving Way No. 10 at Ingalls Shipyards, the S.S. Brasil was delivered to Pier 32.  Because of this, Moore-McCormack Lines was hit with a sales tax of $26,000. 

(The S.S. Argentina was delivered to Todd Shipyards in New Jersey thereby saving Moore-McCormack Lines from having to pay a sales tax.)

September 12, 1958

The S.S. Brasil left on her maiden voyage to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with Commodore Thomas N. Simmons at the command.  Two company officials, Rear Admiral Robert C. Lee, retired, the Vice Chairman of the Board, and Albert J. Keenan, the Vice President in charge of Passenger Traffic, who will represent the line at shipboard receptions in ports were on board.

September 22, 1958

In Rio de Janeiro, a state dinner aboard the S.S. Brasil was attended by Brasil's President, Juscelino Kubitschek, Senhora Kubitschek, the Cabinet and members of the Brasilian Congress.

September 26, 1958

A dinner at Montevideo, Uruguay, was held for members of the Uruguayan Government Council and other officials.

September 27, 1958

A dinner at Buenos Aires, Argentina, was held aboard the liner for Argentina's Vice President, Alejandro Gomez, Government ministers and legislators.

November 6, 1958

On her second voyage, the S.S. Brasil sets a record by cutting 9 hours off from the Buenos Aires to Santos run.  The run covered 1,104 nautical miles which the ship completed in 46 hours, at an average speed of 24 knots.

November 20, 1958

Commodore Thomas Simmons left the new S.S. Brasil after two voyages, to take command of her sister ship, the S.S. Argentina, which is nearing completion.

Captain Arthur W. Pierce will assume command of the S.S. Brasil.    Captain Pierce joined Moore-McCormack in 1938 when it took over the three Panama Pacific Line vessels.  His first Moore-McCormack assignment was as second officer of the S.S. Uruguay.  A year later he became chief officer.

Captain Pierce received his first command in early 1942, when he took over the bridge of a Government-owned freighter.  The ship was part of the armada of such vessels that was operated in World War II by Moore-McCormack.  Captain Pierce has commanded 20 company vessels in the last 20 years.  He has just finished a familiarization run to Buenos Aires and back on the S.S. Brasil.  His former post as staff captain will be assumed by Captain Cosmo G. O'Neil.

December 22, 1960

Captain Jesse Raymond Hodges, 67-years old, retired master of the S.S. Brazil, died in his home in Gloucester County, Virginia.  Captain Hodges joined Moore-McCormack in 1927.  In 1934, Captain Hodges' services were offered by the company to the Colombian Government and he was named Admiral and Commander in Chief of the Colombian Navy.  Aboard the flagship, Cucuta, he patrolled the 2,400 mile stretch of the Amazon River during clashes between Peru and Colombia.  When the fighting ceased four months later, he returned to his regular duties with Moore-McCormack.

During World War II he commanded the Mormacmoon on a 55-day voyage from Mombasa, Kenya, to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, to the Bitter Lakes in Egypt, and thence, with a large cargo of food, medical supplies and ammunition, to the beleaguered island of Malta.  The voyage was hailed as an outstanding achievement in merchant marine history.

Captain Hodges is survived by his widow, Ethel, and two sons.

Autumn 1961

The S.S. Brasil began berthing at Pier 97, foot of 57th Street, Hudson River, New York.  Easier access from mid-town New York makes this change attractive to the growing number of passengers enjoying Mooremack's cruises.

March 16 - June 14, 1963

A $6,000,000 expansion took place for both the S.S. Argentina and S.S. Brasil at Bethlehem Steel Company's Fort McHenry and Key Highway shipyards.  Two new cruise decks were added, the Sun and the Navigation, which comprised of 63 staterooms for 163 passengers.  Also new public rooms were added and the other public areas were enlarged to handle the additional cruisegoers.  The S.S. Brasil's first cruise with her new upper decks occurred in June 1963.

September 12, 1968

Feliz Aniversario - S.S. Brasil celebrates her 10th birthday on her homeward voyage from a South American cruise.  The chef prepared a special cake.

Early 1969

Moore-McCormack sought permission to lay up the S.S. Brasil and the S.S. Argentina, but was turned down by the Federal ship agency.  The ships were losing $2.7 million despite annual subsidies.

July 31 - September 3, 1969

Eleanor Britton, Mildred Freeman, and her husband, Nugent Freeman, Michelle DeRosa, and John-Paul joined the S.S. Brasil on her last voyage flying under the Moore-McCormack Lines flag.  They headed out on a Northlands cruise to Scandanavia, Russia, and Holland.

Captain Norman J. Groebel commanded the S.S. Brasil on her last voyage.  They passed her sister ship, S.S. Argentina, arriving in New York from her last voyage.  It was not widely known among the passengers that this was S.S. Brasil's  last voyage.

The S.S. Brasil and the S.S. Argentina were laid up in Baltimore, Maryland, "temporarily" for repairs.  At the time, length of the lay-up was unknown.  William T. Moore stated the ships were unprofitable noting the crew outnumbered the passengers, 3 to 2.  He said this was an initial move to get rid of two "white elephants."  One solution was the proposal of a creation of a jointly owned company with American Export Isbrandtsen Lines and United States Lines to acquire the passenger ships.  All three companies would jointly own the S.S. Brasil and the S.S. Argentina.

August 1972

S.S. Brasil was purchased for $10 million and then operated by Holland America Lines, and refurbished in Bremerhaven, Germany, at Lloyd-Waft Shipyard.  She was renamed Volendam (II) before she left Baltimore with a Dutch crew and a Dutch captain.  She was the first of the sisters to leave.  Once the ship was safely berthed in Bremerhaven for refurbishment, she was rebuilt with a new swimming pool and will now hold 700 passengers. 

After berthing the Volendam, the crew flew back to Baltimore and sailed the S.S. Argentina (Veendam) over a week later.  (Bob Hoppe contacted us saying that he worked with U.S. Steel at the time, but was part of the crew on the Volendam for her sailing to Bremerhaven.  U.S. Steel would not give him the time off for him to sail his good friend, the S.S. Argentina, to Bremerhaven.)

April 16, 1973

The Volendam sailed from Rotterdam to New York.


Underwent structural modifications in Hampton Roads, Virginia.   By this time her weight changed a little to 23,500 tons and her passenger capacity is now 739.


Purchased by Monarch Cruise Lines, renamed her Monarch Sun.


Holland America noticed that Monarch Cruise Lines was making money with the Monarch Sun, so it purchased Monarch Cruise Lines and renamed her Volendam again.


She was purchased and renamed Island Sun.  We think this was a hotel in Quebec.


She was purchased and renamed Liberté sailing for American Hawaii Cruises, Honolulu.


She was refurbished in Sasebo, Japan.


Purchased by Banstead Shipping, Ltd., and renamed Canada Star.


She was purchased by Bermuda Star Lane, and renamed Queen of Bermuda.


She was refurbished in Avondale, Louisiana.  Bermuda Star Line, Inc. consolidated with Commodore Cruise Lines and renamed her Enchanted Seas cruising out of New Orleans.


The ship had all combustible materials removed.


She was purchased by Brazil Caribbean Shipping Co.

July 15, 1995

Azure Investments, Inc., purchased the Enchanted Seas, renamed her Universe Explorer.  Azure Investments, Inc., chartered the ship to New Commodore Cruise Lines, Ltd., a Bermuda corporation, which operated as Commodore Cruise Lines.  New Commodore contracted International Marine Carriers, Inc., a New York corporation, to manage and operate the ship.

October 1995 - January 1996

The ship underwent modifications to prepare her for operating under charter to the Institute of Shipboard Education, which operates a college program in association with the University of Pittsburgh. 

Of Interest: Semester at Sea was originally going to name the ship Universe II, but found out they could not use the name because their previous ship was named Universe. 

January 1996 - February 3, 1996

Universe Explorer sailed on a Caribbean pleasure cruise.

February to mid-May 1996

Universe Explorer took her first semester voyage for the Institute for Shipboard Education.

July 23, 1996

After completing two semester voyages, Universe Explorer departed from Vancouver for a pleasure cruise in Alaska.

July 27, 1996

While en route from Juneau to Glacier Bay, Alaska, carrying 732 passengers and 274 crew members, a fire started in the main laundry room.  5 crew members on Aloha Deck died from smoke inhalation and 55 crew members and 1 passenger sustained injuries.  Damage was estimated at $1.5 million.  The ship underwent repairs in Vancouver, Canada.

November 2002

World Explorer Cruises purchased the Universe Explorer

January 16, 2004 - April 26, 2004

Universe Explorer left Nassau, Bahamas, for her Spring Semester and her students disembarked in Seattle, Washington.

April - May, 2004

Universe Explorer was in Portland, Oregon, for regular maintenance.

June 3, 2004

Semester at Sea has begun using another ship, MV Explorer, for their educational program, therefore, the Panama Canal trip this coming December will not be aboard the Universe Explorer.  This was unfortunate news for those of us who wanted to cruise specifically on her, BUT ...

Universe Explorer is going to return as a cruise ship to be used as a cruise ship.  The owners are very much aware of the ship's historical value.  She is now on her way to Hong Kong for extensive reconditioning and refurbishment.  She will cruise once again!  We know many of you look forward to seeing her out there and maybe we can try again to cruise her as a group.  We will keep you informed as time passes.  She will not be lost.

June 25, 2004

The Universe Explorer is currently in Hong Kong for extensive refurbishing and upgrading for a cruise ship instead of a college campus.  She will remain registered in Panama and will resume cruises in the winter. 

An added bonus to Mooremackbuffs is that a room on the Universe Explorer is being designed to match the decor on the S.S. Brasil.  The room will be a small lounge/bar that will contain history of the Moore-McCormack vessel. 

For those of you who want to sail her next year, please set aside some of your dollars and your vacation time and plan to sail with us as a Mooremackbuff group.  We will keep you informed as we are informed. 

July 11, 2004

Danny Leone is still performing and has agreed to perform on the cruise when the Mooremackbuffs sail on the Universe Explorer next year.  For those of you who are not familiar with Danny, he was the beloved Cruise Director/Performer for the original S.S. Argentina and S.S. Brazil and the new S.S. Argentina and S.S. Brasil from 1957 thru 1969.

August 30, 2004

Refurbishment has discontinued on the Universe Explorer.  There was a dispute over the condition of the ship between World Explorer Cruises and the owner, Azure Investments.  She is being returned to her owners and will probably be scrapped.

November 9, 2004

The Universe Explorer has been purchased from Rikan Shipping, Inc., Monrovia, Liberia.  She has been renamed Universe.  

November 19, 2004

Universe, f/k/a Universe Explorer, departed Hong Kong for Alang to be scrapped.


September 4, 1958


December 7, 2004

The Universe, f/k/a Universe Explorer, ... f/k/a S.S. Brasil was beached in Alang.  A year, less two days, to the day the New Orleans, f/k/a Enchanted Isle , ... f/k/a S.S. Argentina, arrived in Alang (December 9, 2003). 

As they should be, the sisters will soon be together again.  After sailing on the seas for over 45 years, the last two all American-built luxury ocean liners will soon once again sail side by side. 

Please share with us your memories of this great ship.






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