Sequranca Adventures On The High Seas
By James Donahue
The SS Sequranca was a Ward Line passenger and freight carrier that successfully operated between New York and Brazilian
ports between 1890, the year it was launched, and 1923 when it was scrapped.
The 4,033 ton steamship was one of two steel vessels built in 1890 by a shipping firm known as the United States &
Brazil Mail Steamship Company in anticipation of a Tonnage Subsidy Bill working its way through the U. S. House and Senate.
The legislation subsidized shipping companies to encourage South American trade. The name of the sister ship was the Vigilancia.
Tracking the changing ownership of the Sequranca, and its various routes south to Cuba, the West Indies, Mexico and
on to Brazil from early records is something of a maze. Apparently the vessel was owned and operated during its primary years
of service by the Ward Line, one of the largest and more successful steamship companies operating in the United States.
While the steamship apparently maintained a 33-year-long career on the high seas, they did not pass without mishaps
that put the name of the Sequranca in the news.
Perhaps the worst of the incidents occurred in January, 1894, when smallpox broke out among the passengers after the
steamer sailed from New York. After making a stop at Havana, there were 22 cases of smallpox confirmed by the time the Sequranca
reached Vera Cruz, the liner was quarantined at that port with several well-known passengers. They included a millionaire,
Aaron Vanderbilt, and James and Joseph Ward, both officials of the Ward Steamship Company. A passenger that boarded the ship
at Havana was believed to have been the source of the disease.
The Sequranca came to the aid of the German liner Prinz Joachim after it went aground off the Bahamas on Nov. 23, 1911.
The Ward Line vessel was able to take 84 passengers and the mail from the Prinz Joachim and bring them safely to Nassau. The
German liner, which later was seized by the United States and converted into the troop carrier Moccasin during World War I,
was on a route from New York to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica.
A news clipping made reference to the steamship Seguranca that developed a leak, was grounded and sunk in August, 1918
on the southeast coast of Sardinia in the Mediterranian. There were no casualties and the ship was obviously salvaged and
returned to service. It became the property of Standard Commercial Steamship Corporation of New York in 1918 and sold to G.
Hitner to be scrapped in 1923.