The Last Ocean Liners

Mitsui-OSK Lines

Argentina Maru / Brazil Maru / Sakura Maru

 

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Mitsui-OSK Lines At the end of World War II, 85% of the Japanese merchant fleet had been destroyed. At the same time, there was a growing demand for migrant travel from Japan to South America, specifically Brazil and Argentina. In response, the OSK Line (Osaka Shosen Kaisha) commissioned their Brazil Maru in 1954 and the similar Argentina Maru in 1958 as replacements for their lost ocean liners. They were updated copies of earlier OSK passenger ships of the same names.

Mitsui-OSK Lines As built, the new vessels were primarily intended to carry over 900 migrants in dormitories which were converted to cargo space on the homeward voyage. The only cabin accommodation provided was for about 12 First class and 70 - 80 Tourist class passengers. A third ocean liner, Sakura Maru was designed as a floating trade fair in the off season, joining the others in migrant service at other times.

Mitsui-OSK Lines Their normal route was from Kobe and Yokohama to California, through the Panama Canal onward to Colombia and Venezuela, and finally Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Each one way voyage took about fifty days, with the three vessels alternating their sailings so that one departed each terminal every one to two months.

Mitsui-OSK Lines By 1960, the peak in migrant travel had passed as Japan was emerging from the war, and the ships were losing money. To survive, in 1964 the Japanese government required the OSK Line to merge with the Mitsui Line to become Mitsui-OSK Lines. It was determined that Argentina Maru, Brazil Maru and Sakura Maru would be upgraded for the tourist trade. Air-conditioning and a swimming pool were installed and most of the dormitories were converted to four, six and eight berth cabins. Cabin class and economy class each had their own dining room, smoking room and lounge.

Mitsui-OSK Lines While still not luxurious, the new plan did allow the three ocean liners to compete for leisure cruise passengers against the transpacific services of American President Lines and P&O-Orient Lines, and the Japan to South America route of the Royal Interocean Lines. Finally, between 1971 and 1973 the three Mitsui-OSK Lines ocean liners were sold or converted for other purposes and deployments.


Sample minimum one-way fares from Kobe to Buenos Aires: Cabin class $724; Economy class $600; from Los Angeles to Yokohama: Cabin class $385; Economy class $325; from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro: Cabin class $390; Economy class $324; All fares are per person in U.S. dollars.


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Argentina Maru (Mitsui-OSK Lines) 1958
Argentina Maru Mitsui-OSK Lines
Built: 1958 by Mitsubishi Dockyard Co, Kobe, Japan Gross tons: 10770 Length: 514ft (157m) Width: 67ft (20m) Draft: 28ft (9m) Speed: 16.5kn Power: 9000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines single screw Passengers: 23 Cabin 352 Economy 200 Third class End of service: Converted to budget cruise ship 1972 as Nippon Maru; scrapped 1976
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Brazil Maru (Mitsui-OSK Lines) 1954
Brazil Maru Mitsui-OSK Lines
Built: 1954 by Mitsubishi Dockyard Co, Kobe, Japan Gross tons: 10216 Length: 510ft (155m) Width: 64ft (20m) Draft: 28ft (9m) Speed: 16.5kn Power: 9000 bhp Propulsion: Diesel single screw Passengers: 12 Cabin 348 Economy 200 Third class End of service: Laid up 1973; converted to museum ship 1974
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Sakura Maru (Mitsui-OSK Lines) 1962
Sakura Maru Mitsui-OSK Lines
Built: 1962 by Mitsubishi Dockyard Co, Kobe, Japan Gross tons: 12628 Length: 515ft (157m) Width: 68ft (21m) Draft: 28ft (9m) Speed: 17.5kn Power: 9800 bhp Propulsion: Diesel single screw Passengers: 152 Cabin 292 Economy End of service: Sold 1971 as Zhi Luo Lan; scrapped 1982
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