A little piece of history.

This old girl has seen some miles.

Upriver to Portland.
It's amazing how much history is in our photo albums. Pictured above is the "Lion of California" pushing against the current bound for Portland.  I was pawing through the albums looking for something else and came across this single photo taken in March 1990. For a moment I thought it might be a Liberty ship, it has that look and I'm a rookie at this stuff. I took an interest in its history and turned up quite a bit with some help of others in the Boatwatcher world.

The Lion was built in 1954 at Sparrows Point, Maryland by the Bethlehem - Sparrows Point Shipyard as hull No. 4533.  She was 514 feet long with a beam of 68 feet. A draft of 30 feet 5 inches gave her a capacity of 6,256 net tons.  Propulsion was provided by two Foster-Wheeler water tube boilers with 16254 ft2 of heating surface. The steam lines were mated to a pair of steam turbines built by Bethlehem generating 8000 shaft horsepower.

Christened as the "Flying A California" in reference to the petroleum company of the same name.  Somewhere along the line Phillips Petroleum swallowed up Flying A and the ship was renamed Phillips California in 1966.  Time rolls on and although the ship stays the same the owners did a little shell game and the ship was acquired by Tosco in 1976 and renamed the Lion of California.  She continued to ply the West Coast waters moving petroleum products until 1994 when she was taken to the shipbreakers at Alang, India for scrapping on March 28 of that year.

The only notable incident found on the Lion was on September 19, 1978, she was involved in a "allision" (noun. intentional collision, epecially of ships) with the infamous Glomar Explorer (moored) in LA Harbor while under the command of a harbor pilot. Oh, he got a load of attention for that.

Through that 40 years there was one constant on the ship: Captain Clyde James. I found a nice article in West Coast Sailors published on the occasion of his death in 2001. He served on the Lion under all her various owners and names from 1955 until his retirement, nearly 40 years as mate and master on one ship!

Kinda strange when you look back at a single point in time and realize that you were all there for a brief moment, seeing, but unaware of each others presence.

Captain James with the Phillips California
in the background.
Thanks to Tom Stewart and Bill Lafferty for the construction and dimensional information.
© 2007 Arctic Rail, No part of this web site may be reproduced in any form without the express consent of Arctic Industries.