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Oceanliners

SS ConstitutionSS Constitution  - The steamship featured on episodes "Bon Voyage" (1/16/56) and "Second Honeymoon" (1/23/56) on the sitcom I LOVE LUCY/CBS/1951-57. When Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz), a Cuban-American nightclub singer went on a European tour with his band, he booked passage on the S.S. Constitution. Owned by the American Export Lines, the ocean liner weighed 23,750 tons.

Accompanying Ricky was his zany redheaded wife, Lucy (Lucille Ball) and their best friends Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance) and Fred Mertz (William Frawley). The ship's first stop was Southampton, England (in reality the real ship went nowhere near England).

Reportedly, at the suggestion of Publicity Director, Allison S. Graham, the owners of the S.S. Constitution paid Desilu Productions $12,000 to be a part of the event.

The ship, however, was only used for the establishing departure scenes shots. The rest of the episodes were shot in a sound stage.

The Ricardo's and Mertz's returned to America on May 14, 1956 via Pan American Flight No. 155 departing London to New York City.

TRIVIA NOTE: Designed by Henry Dreyfuss, the SS. Constitution was launched on September 16, 1950 from the building yard of Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts. She made her maiden voyage on June 25, 1951.

The SS Constitution was 683 feet in length with an 89 foot beam. It was designed to carry 1,000 passengers in three classes; First class 295, Cabin class 375, and Tourist class 330. In 1959, the ship was enlarged to handle an additional 484 passengers. Its new steam turbine provided a cruising speed of 23 knots (with a maximum speed of 26 knots). 

The SS Constitution was part of the fleet of ships operated by the American Export Lines. Other ships in the fleet included the Exochorda, Exambion, Excalibur, Exeter, Independence and The Atlantic.

On November 17, 1997, the SS Constitution took on water and sank in the waters of the Pacific Ocean about 700 miles north of Honolulu, Hawaii while being towed from Portland, Oregon to a scrap yard in the Far East. Before it sank, parts of the boat were cannibalized to provide parts for her sister ship the Independence.


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