Build: 1943 by Newport News Shipbuilding – Newport News, Virginia in the USA, nr 403 as HMS Cutlass
While neither of the above pictures above are actually this vessel, they are her identical sisters, first the USS Cabildo, and second, the HMS Eastway. You may ask, why am I posting a ship that no good pictures exist of?
Well, for one, she was ugly. As her sisters show, the entire Casa Grande Class of dock landing ships was particularly comely.
But, the actual reason for this posting is because of what she became. After surviving World War II, including participation in the D-Day landings, she was sold into commercial service, and “converted” into the ferry City of Havana.
By conversion, I mean she had her weapons removed, and a new paint job put on, but still retained quite the degree of unattractiveness.
The Communist takeover of Cuba put an end to her service between Key West and Havana, and she was sold to the German Government, and served for several years as a barracks ship, while maintaining her previous livery.
The next phase of her life is where something remarkable happens. She may be one of the few vessels I’ve found that has actually gone from ugly to not-so-bad. After sitting for a few years, she was sold to the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company, converted into a Ro/Ro vessel, and renamed Celtic Ferry.
While not exactly the most beautiful ship on the face of the Earth, she certainly looked much more presentable, an appearance she kept until scrapped in approximately 1973.
As an interesting side note, her sister the HMS Eastway, was originally laid down as HMS Battleaxe, a nifty little coincidence in regards to the origins of this website.