Espiritu Santo News Flash!
Posted: Wednesday 22 June, 2005
We’ve found it!
The embossed port of registration on the stern of the President Coolidge!
Allan Powers Dive Tours have uncovered the port of registration on the stern of this our majestic ship. One of the most accessible wreck dives in the world right here on the sandy shores of this paradise island, Espiritu Santo-Vanuatu. Allan Power, manager Tim Gilder and his passionate dive guides have been maintaining the ship and big brass lettering that grace the 654’3” long hull of this luxury liner. After finding the letters, the search for the port of registration was prompted by a phone call from avid President Coolidge enthusiast Andy Andrews, he informed us that the port of registration should be situated under the lettering on the stern. This triggered the search and at last, for the first time since the sinking of the President Coolidge, can be seen again by divers.
Imagining’s of her colourful history slip into the minds of divers as they dive the warm clear waters of Santo to a depth of 60 meters to cast their eye on a San Francisco registration that embellishes her stern.
Built in 1931 by Newport Ship Building and Dry-dock Co. Newport News. Launched on the 21st of Febuary1931, fitted and delivered to her owners on the 1st of October 1931, Mrs Calvin Coolidge christened her gracious hull, the President Coolidge. She and her sister ship the President Hoover were the flagships of the Dollar Steamship Line’s fleet. When the flag bedecked new liner arrived in her home port of San Francisco, the whole city turned out to welcome her. She was a superb bravura of a ship. The President Coolidge and her sister ship the President Hoover were the largest passenger liners built in an American shipyard up until till that time. She proudly represented the nations technological achievements in navel architecture and marine engineering and it’s continuing belief in the importance of Pacific traffic of passengers and freight. To the San Francisco chamber of commerce she guaranteed a prosperous future for the port and all those industries dependent on its economic well being.
The proud ship President Coolidge served the commercial South Pacific for some time but her future was soon to change.
As World War II approached she was occasionally used by the War Department on a part voyage basis. On November the first 1941 she was on route home, equidistant between Manilla and Honolulu. On Christmas day she safely entered San Francisco harbour. The following year she was hurriedly modified for the carrying of enormous numbers of American troops. She was with out delay put into service in the South West Pacific. On the 6th of October 1942 she immediately set sail for New Caledonia then set her course for Espiritu Santo entering the seemingly calm blue water of our shores on the 26th of October 1942. Little did Captain Henry Nelson know that they were on the brink of disaster. At 09:35 ships time, propelled by her turbo electric twin screw engine’s her majestic bow parted the crystal calm waters at approx 15 knots approaching the wrong entrance to the harbour of Espiritu Santo. In turn making direct contact with a U.S minefield strategically placed in the East End of the Segond Channel. Here the President Coolidge, Field Capt. Elwood. J. Euart and Engineer/fireman Robert Reed were to meet their fate. Impulsively the vessel was beached, by the master, listed over on her port side and 5050 U.S troops clambered down her progressively raising starboard side to safety, she gradually filled then slipped entirely of the reef and sank.
Here she lies today!
Come dive the President Coolidge and share the experience & stories. View Allan Power’s personal collection of artefacts. Allan Power, who has dived, photographed and salvaged the President Coolidge, has lived in Espiritu Santo since 1969.
Come and meet the famous “Lady” that still adorns the ships walls and haunts the minds of divers all over the world.
Cathie de Koeyer- Deco Stop Lodge Santo