The SS Atlantus Concrete Ship

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SS Atlantus is the most famous of the twelve concrete ships built by the Liberty Ship Building Company in Brunswick, Georgia during and after World War I.

The steamer SS Atlantus was launched on 5 December 1918, and was the second concrete ship constructed in the World War I Emergency Fleet. The war had ended a month earlier, but the Atlantus was used to transport American troops back home from Europe and also to transport coal in New England. After 2 years of service, the ship was retired in 1920 to a salvage yard in Virginia.

The SS Atlantus the day she ran aground, photographed June 8, 1926.

In 1926, Colonel Jesse Rosenfeld purchased the Atlantus for use in the creation of a ferry dock (for a route now served by the Cape May-Lewes Ferry) out of her and two of her sister ships. The plan was to dig a channel into the shore where the Atlantus would be placed, and the other two ships would be placed in a Y formation, creating a slip for a ferry to dock. In March 1926, the groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the ferry dock. The Atlantus was repaired and towed to Cape May, New Jersey. On June 8th of the same year, a storm hit and the ship broke free of her moorings and ran aground 150 feet off the coast of Sunset Beach, New Jersey. Several attempts were made to free the ship, but none were successful.

At one time there was a billboard painted on the side of the ship advertising boat insurance. At present she remains a Cape May tourist draw, but her condition is rapidly deteriorating. The wreckage is currently split in three pieces, the stern is the most visible section, the middle is completely submerged, and the bow can only be viewed at low tide.