The C-5-S-75a class cargo ship is one of the last remaining bulk cargo ships that remain in service under the U.S. Flag.
A total of 5 ships were constructed under this class at the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. in Newport News, VA from 1968 to 1969. They entered the fleet just as containerization began to take hold, and thus were also one of the last break-bulk cargo ships build in an American shipyard. Initially all owned by the American Mail Lines, they were all eventually bought by the American President Lines (APL).
The 5 ships in the class were (current disposition/status in parentheses):
S.S. Alaskan Mail (S.S. Cape Girardeau – MARAD RRF)
S.S. Indian Mail (S.S. Cape Gibson – MARAD RRF)
S.S. American Mail (S.S. Cleveland – Sold for scrap, 2009)
S.S. Korea Mail (Scrapped, 1995)
S.S. Hong Kong Mail (Scrapped, 2008)
With excellent lines, a cruising speed of 21 knots, and passenger capacity of 12, these ships were truly proud and capable ships that represented what could be described as the Cadillac’s of the U.S. fleet at the time. The ships were known to be interesting and a pleasure to serve on. They had an elaborate library, a card room with etched glass partitions, mahogany furniture, and officer and crew messes on different decks.
The extremely detailed and excellent historical website on the U.S. Maritime Commission http://usmaritimecommission.de provides a historical summary of this class:
When Newport News delivered the ALASKAN MAIL to the American Mail Line Ltd.of Seattle, Washington they were the largest general cargoliners at this time. One characteristic feature on this vessel will be the Bipood masts designed by MacGregor. American Mail, incidentally, was the first U.S.vessel operator to adopt the Bipod mast cargo handling system in 1959, and the continued usage on all their subsequently built ships has made the distinctive appearing Bipod the pre-dominently recognizable characteristic of its Fleet. Designed for any kind of cargo the vessel can carry in various amounts breakbulk, liquid cargo and containers and made this vessels to the most versatile cargo ships at this time. Main turbines and gears were constructed by General Electric Corp. The main engine is a cross compound, double-reduction gear type with L-P and H-P turbine developing 21,600 shp at 102 rpm and 24,000 shp at 105 rpm. In October 1973 ALASKAN MAIL was sold to APL. In April she was renamed to PRESIDENT ADAMS. In April 1988 title was transferred to Marad and she was renamed to CAPE GIRARDEAU. INDIAN and KOREAN MAIL also sold to APL and renamed to PRESIDENT JACKSON and PRESIDENT TAYLOR. In March 1988 PRESIDENT JACKSON was transferred to Marad and renamed to CAPE GIBSON. PRESIDENT TAYLOR was sold in January 1989 to Lykes and renamed to STELLA LYKES. HONGKONG MAIL was sold in May 1978 to APL and renamed to PRESIDENT WILSON. She was again resold in May 1987 to Lykes and renamed to SUE LYKES. A remarkable career has the last ship of this class the AMERICAN MAIL. Delivered in October 1969, she was sold to APL in May 1978 and renamed to PRESIDENT CLEVELAND. Again resold in November 1988 to the New York based Victory Maritime Inc.and renamed in February 1989 to CLEVELAND, she is by this time (2007) still in service and one of the last remaining vessels of this time.
Find an even more detailed description of the class here.