By William H. Miller
When they debuted in 1951, Independence and Constitution were among the proudest additions ever made to the American Merchant Marine. Launched at Quincy, Massachusetts, they were the first big American luxury ships to be built after the Second World War. Stunningly innovative, they were the first fully air-conditioned liners. Big, powerful and for a time, the fastest and largest in the southern Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The ships were instant successes. Modern American living at sea was their theme and interiors had every modern convenience. They sailed with full passenger loads into the 1960s and they starred in movies, television and carried an American princess to her fairytale wedding. The late 1960s were not as kind. Laid up in 1968 the sisters were bought by shipping magnate C. Y. Tung and later entered the Hawaiian cruise service. Sadly, Constitution sank in 1997 in tow to an Asian scrap yard. Operated by American Hawaii Cruises, Independence still sails proudly as an American-built and flagged vessel carrying on the great tradition of the American Merchant Marine. Relive their glory days with dozens of gorgeous, sharp, black and white photos of two magnificent examples of American passenger ships. Cover painting by Stephen Card. 116 pages. Softbound.