African Comet - New York, U.S.A.


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The 1962-built, 12,728-dwt, 11,309-grt, general cargo and container ship African Comet is seen in this photograph while she was transiting downbound in the Welland Canal during the afternoon hours of a day in August of 1978. At the time it was taken she was sailing northbound in the canal approaching lock 7 which is located in Thorold, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Barry Andersen.

She was built in Pascagoula, Mississippi, U.S.A. by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation for Farrell Lines Inc., U.S.A. as African Comet. She and many of her sisterships were built as replacements for Farrell Lines vessels that dated from World War II. African Comet was 572' in length, 75'2" wide and was fitted with an 18,150 horsepower General Electric Steam Turbine engine that was capable of pushing the ship along at speeds in excess of 20 knots. Her 22 derricks (1-60 ton, 6-10 ton and 14-5 ton) serviced 7 cargo holds.

African Comet sailed for Farrell Lines under that name until late in 1979 or early in 1980. At that time she and her fleetmates African Mercury, African Meteor, African Neptune and African Sun were transferred from active service to the United States of America (Department of Commerce) and laid up along with the U.S. Reserve fleet at Hampton, Roads. There they were fitted for rapid deployment in case the U.S. Military Sealift Command required ships to transport military machinery and hardware around the world.

Sometime during 1980 their names were shortened to Comet, Mercury, Meteor, Neptune and Sun then shortly thereafter their names were changed to Cape Avala, Cape Alexander, Cape Ann, Cape Archway and Cape Avinof respectively.

By 1987 Cape Avala and her sisters were still being held in reserve at the James River yard in Virgina, U.S.A. along with several dozen other former commercial cargo ships including Keystone State. It is assumed that Cape Avala and her sisters are still in reserve however that cannot be confirmed..

Above information courtesy Lloyds Registers, Marine News (WSS) & Janes Fighting Ships. If you would like to contribute any additional details about the history of this ship please Contact me so the information can be presented here with the picture.


Posted: December 23, 2002       Last Revised: December 23, 2002
Photo courtesy Barry Andersen's collection (t1-s60) - Copyright © - 1978, 2002

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