Monster of the deep

ca. 1922

This painting, made on one continuous piece of paper 21 feet 9 inches long, depicts the 1922-23 restoration of the ship that was advertised as “the largest ship in the world.” She was 950 feet long and 8 stories high. Built in 1914 by the German Hamburg-American Line as a spectacular luxury liner named Vaterland (German for “Fatherland”), she was seized by the American government in 1917 as the United States entered World War I, renamed Leviathan, and converted into a troop transport ship that carried approximately 120,000 American servicemen to the combat zone during the war years. Following World War I, she was again reborn as an American super luxury liner, after a massive refitting that is meticulously articulated in this drawing. The SS Leviathan operated as a transatlantic passenger liner from 1923 until 1934. When she ceased to be profitable during the Great Depression, in 1938 the mighty ship was scrapped.

National Archives, Records of the U.S. Shipping Board


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