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SS Admiral
File:Admiral ad.jpg
Name: SS Admiral
Route: Mississippi River
Cost: $1,000,000
Launched: 1907
Out of service: 1979
Fate: Sold as scrap
General characteristics
Length: 374 ft (114 m)
Beam: 92 ft (28 m)
Decks: 5
Capacity: 4400

SS Admiral was an excursion steamboat operating on the Mississippi River from the Port of St. Louis, Missouri. The vessel had a 1930s streamlined, Art Deco style, similar to the MV Kalakala and in contrast to the "gingerbread" ornamentation of more traditional Mississippi passenger and pleasure steamers. At 374 feet (114 m) long and 92 feet (28 m) feet wide, the Admiral was longer than a city block, and the first all-steel inland steamer. At the time of its construction, the Admiral was the largest passenger vessel on U.S. inland waterways.[citation needed]

Currently, the boat is undergoing disposal of, as scrap metal.

Origin[edit | edit source]

Throughout the 1920s, Streckfus Steamers[1] operated the J.S. Deluxe,[2] a palatial boat which cruised the Mississippi River from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota. It brought exquisite service and fine musical entertainment to the area, introducing jazz to St. Louis.[citation needed]

Construction[edit | edit source]

In 1933 Streckfus Steamers decided to construct a new flagship. The boat was designed by Maizie Krebs[3] for Captain Joe Streckfus. The young Krebs was a fashion illustrator for the St. Louis department store Famous-Barr, and neither she nor Streckfus originally took the design seriously, but she would also design another vessel for Streckfus, the S.S. President, in 1934.[4] The basis of the design of the Admiral was a ship built in 1907 for the Louisiana & Mississippi Valley Transfer Co. and operated at Vicksburg, MS. named ALBATROS. She was sold to Streckfus Steamers in 1937. From 1938-1940 Steamers Service Company built for more than $1,000,000 a ship with five decks, two of which were air-conditioned, an unheard-of luxury. Her steel hull was divided into 74 compartments, as many as 11 of which could be flooded with the boat still remaining afloat. The new steel framework was designed and fabricated by Banner Iron Works [5]

Later history[edit | edit source]

The Admiral moored in the Mississippi River, just north of the St. Louis Arch

She had a capacity of 4400 passengers, and departed on her first excursion cruise from the St. Louis waterfront in June 1940. For decades she was a familiar sight on the river. In the winter of 1973 - 1974 she was converted to diesel-props, with a total of 2700 hp (three engines, one in each paddle box and one at the stern).

S.S. Admiral Partners bought the boat and completed a $30 million-plus renovation (The engines had been removed in 1979 and stripping the interior of much of its art deco trim and fittings). In the late 1980s, the boat was operated by Six Flags, which decided to shut the venture down due to high costs. Since the early 1990s it was operated from moorings near Eads Bridge as the President Casinos.[6] It boasted 1,230 slot machines, 59 gaming tables, 18 restrooms, and one restaurant.

Accident[edit | edit source]

The Admiral in 2006

About 7:50 pm on 4 April 1998, a tow of the M/V Anne Holly, comprising 12 loaded and 2 empty barges, which was traveling northbound on the Mississippi River through the St. Louis Harbor, struck the Missouri-side pier of the center span of the Eads Bridge. Eight barges broke away from the tow and drifted back through the Missouri span. Three of these barges drifted toward the Admiral. The drifting barges struck the Admiral, causing 8 of its 10 mooring lines to break. The Admiral then rotated clockwise downriver, away from the Missouri riverbank. The captain of the Anne Holly disengaged his vessel from the six remaining barges in the tow and placed the Anne Holly’s bow against the Admiral’s bow to hold it against the bank. About the time the Anne Holly began pushing against the Admiral, the Admiral’s next-to-last mooring line parted. The Anne Holly and the single mooring wire that remained attached to the Admiral’s stern anchor held the Admiral near the Missouri bank. No deaths resulted from the accident; 50 people were examined for minor injuries. Of those examined, 16 were sent to local hospitals for further treatment. Damages were estimated at $11 million.[7] The quick response of the tow captain and emergency services prevented what might have been one of the most deadly marine disasters in history. The Mississippi River was over flood stage at the time of the accident and the ship would not have cleared the I-64 bridge just downstream. There were over 3000 people on board at the time. If the Admiral had capsized when striking the bridge there would have been many people either trapped inside the flooding ship or in the frigid and turbulent river in the dark.[citation needed]

21st century history[edit | edit source]

The Admiral, minus her upper decks, is towed from St. Louis to be dismantled on July 19, 2011

In June 2005, it was reported that Columbia Sussex Corp. wanted to buy the President Casino on the Admiral and replace it with a new vessel.[8]

In August 2008, Pinnacle Entertainment, the owner, was considering moving the boat north to the area near the Chain of Rocks Bridge.[9] After the state refused to approve the deal, Pinnacle surrendered its gambling license and sold to St. Louis Marine in 2010. The top deck was removed. The complete dismantlement was delayed because the 2011 Mississippi River floods made it impossible to transport it downstream under the Eads Bridge. With the water dropping, St. Louis Marine announced plans on July 17, 2011 to move it to Columbia, Illinois where the hull will be dismantled and sold for scrap.[10][11]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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