SS Navemar-The ship built for 15, but carried close to 1200

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SS Navemar was a cargo steamship that was built in England in 1921, was Norwegian-owned until 1927 and then Spanish-owned for the rest of her career. An Italian submarine sank her in the Strait of Gibraltar in 1942.

Navemar is notable for a voyage in 1941 in which she carried about 1,120 European Jewish refugees to the United States in overcrowded and insanitary conditions.

In 1941, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as “The Joint”) were desperate to rescue Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia escaping Nazi persecution.

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Many held US visas that were about to expire. The Joint’s agents directed them to Seville, where the Navemar had been privately chartered to make the transatlantic crossing. Tickets for the few passenger cabins sold at exorbitant prices. The captain vacated his cabin and charged $2,000 to all who could fit themselves into the small space.Bunks were fitted in the filthy cargo holds, which had previously carried coal.Although attempts were made to clean the ship, there was too little time to complete the task.

Navemar left Seville on 6 August 1941. She called at Lisbon in Portugal, where many of the visas were extended by the US Embassy. After calling at Havana in Cuba she reached New York on 12 September 1941. Many of the passengers had contracted typhus and six of them died in the seven-week crossing,and a seventh died upon arrival in New York.

After her refugee voyage Navemar returned to general trade. On 23 January 1942 the Marcello-class Italian submarine Barbarigo torpedoed and sank her in the Strait of Gibraltar.

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