Service: Built for Ward Line, sailing New York - Havana. Tragedy struck during a northbound run off the New Jersey coast 8 Sep 1934, a night of heavy rain and rough seas. Just before dinner, the captain was found dead in his stateroom. Hours later a fire was discovered, but a distress call was not made until things had gotten out of hand. The crew performed poorly, with many departing in lifeboats before the passengers. Ships responding to the distress call included the Monarch of Bermuda, the Coast Guard cutter USCGC Tampa, as well as local fishing boats. Attempts to tow the ship failed and it drifted onto the beach at Asbury Park. Of the 316 passengers and 230 crew on board, 91 passengers and 31 crew perished. Fires burned for several days, while huge crowds gathered on the beach and boardwalk to view the wreck. The ship, which had cost $4 million to build, was scrapped for $100,000 at Baltimore.
Sister ship Oriente carried on in the New York to Cuba service alone. She was taken up the U.S. Army in Jun 1941 as the transport USS Thomas H. Barry and made trips to the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and North Africa, before starting a series of 23 Atlantic crossings in Jul 1943. In Jan 1946 she was converted to carry military dependents, then later laid up in the James River reserve fleet. She was scrapped at Baltimore in 1957.