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NavSource Online: Identification Numbered Vessel Photo Archive

Aeolus (ID 3005)

Navy call sign:
George - Quack - Nan - Watch

ex-Grosser Kurfürst (ID 3005)

Civilian call sign:
Love - Have - Quack - Pup


  • Built in 1899 as Grosser Kurfürst by F. Schichau, Danzig, Germany
  • Launched 2 December 1899
  • Acquired by the Navy 4 August 1917 and commissioned USS Grosser Kurfürst (ID 3005) the same day
  • Renamed Aeolus 1 September 1917
  • Decommissioned 22 September 1919 at Newport News, VA and transferred to the United States Shipping Board
  • Sold to the Munson Line in 1921
  • Sold to the Los Angeles Steamship Co. in August 1922 and renamed City of Los Angeles
  • Sold to Japanese interests in February 1937
  • Scrapped in April 1937.


  • Displacement 20,000 t.
  • Length 580' 10"
  • Beam 62' 3"
  • Draft 30'
  • Speed 15.5 kts.
  • Complement 513
  • Armament: Four 5"/51 mounts, two 1-pounders, two Colt machine guns, one Lewis machine gun and nine depth charges
  • Propulsion: Five double ended and two single ended boilers, two 9,000hp vertical quadruple expansion Schichau steam engines, two shafts.
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    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    SS Grosser Kurfürst
    Aeolus 56k

    Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg

    Frederick William (German: Friedrich Wilhelm; 16 February 1620 – 29 April 1688) was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia, thus ruler of Brandenburg-Prussia, from 1640 until his death in 1688. A member of the House of Hohenzollern, he is popularly known as "the Great Elector" (der Große Kurfürst) because of his military and political achievements. Frederick William was a staunch pillar of the Calvinist faith, associated with the rising commercial class. He saw the importance of trade and promoted it vigorously. His shrewd domestic reforms gave Prussia a strong position in the post-Westphalian political order of north-central Europe, setting Prussia up for elevation from duchy to kingdom, achieved under his son and successor

    Joe Radigan
    Aeolus 315k Tommy Trampp
    Aeolus 127k Vintage Magic Lantern Slide
    Aeolus 268k Photo from "Passenger Liners of the World Since 1893" (1979) by Nicholas T. Cairis
    Aeolus 151k Postcard postmarked 11 September 1903
    Aeolus 329k Postcard dated 11 June 1908
    Aeolus 113k SS Grosser Kurfürst interned in the New York City area, circa 1917
    U.S. Navy photo NH 42153
    Naval Historical Center
    USS Aeolus (ID 3005)
    Aeolus 242k Hand tinted photo Tommy Trampp
    Aeolus 134k Aeolus in dry dock at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, on 1 June 1918, while completing repair of damage received in a collision with USS Huron on 25 April 1918. Note unpainted plating at her bow and the ship's "dazzle" camouflage scheme
    U.S. Navy photos NH 918 and NH 919
    Naval Historical Center
    Aeolus 134k
    Aeolus 167k Photographed circa mid- or late 1918, after her "dazzle" camouflage had weathered considerably.
    Courtesy of Raymond O. Draves, 1980.
    U.S. Navy Photo NH 90626
    Aeolus 103k Underway in 1919.
    Courtesy of Boatswain's Mate First Class Robert G. Tippins, USN (Retired), 2005.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 102867
    Robert Hurst
    Aeolus 131k In dry dock at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, on 1 June 1918, while completing repair of damage received in a collision with USS Huron on 25 April 1918.
    Courtesy of Boatswain's Mate First Class Robert G. Tippins, USN (Retired), 2005.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 102868
    Aeolus 142k In port in 1919, probably at St. Nazaire, France. Aeolus is at left, seen from astern and Pastores (ID 4540) in center
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 105726
    Aeolus 114k Photographed in 1919
    Donation of Charles R. Haberlein, Jr., 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 106389
    Aeolus 115k In port, while bringing troops home from Europe in 1919. The ship's armament had been removed by the time this photograph was taken
    Donation of Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 105946
    Aeolus 115k At St. Nazaire, France in 1919
    Photograph from the collection of Robert H. Helm, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Helm, 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 106346
    Aeolus 219k Troops of the Army's 350th Infantry ashore after disembarking, 31 May 1919. Aeolus, which had brought them home from France, is alongside the pier toward the left. In the right-center are USS SC-413, USS SC-119 and two other submarine chasers. Toward the right are the twin-funnel tugs Waltham and Eureka
    Photo by Clements, 619 F Street, NW, Washington, DC
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 106016
    Aeolus 160k At Newport News, Virginia, 31 May 1919, after disembarking troops of the 350th Infantry
    Photograph by Clements, 619 F. St. NW, Washington, D.C., entitled "350th Infantry Arriving Newport News, Va. Decoration Day 1919."
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 106016-A
    Bill Gonyo
    SS City of Los Angeles
    Aeolus 206k Undated post card Tommy Trampp
    Aeolus 123k Photo PB18052 courtesy of Mrs. Elizabeth Boulon from The Mariners Museum, Newport News, Virginia
    Aeolus 65k c. 1925/1926
    Photo Caption: EX-SECRETARY OF WAR SAILS FROM PACIFIC IN SEARCH OF HEALTH. Former Secretary of War John W. Weeks, pictured talking to Mrs. Willis Walker, a friend, before sailing on the S.S. City of Los Angeles, from California recently, for Honolulu. He will spend several weeks in the Hawaiian Islands in search of health which failed him, causing his resignation from the Cabinet.
    Photo by Acme
    Aeolus 128k 31 August 1927
    Entertainment Program
    Aeolus 193k Franked envelope postmarked 12 June 1931 San Pedro, CA and 19 June 1931 Hilo, Hawaii depicting the "First Pacific Coast Ship-to-Shore Air Mail Transfer"

    Commanding Officers
    01CDR Clarence Selby Kempff, USN - USNA Class of 1898
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Vice Admiral
    4 August 1917 - 1918
    02CDR Henry George Stewart Wallace, USN - USNA Class of 1902
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Captain
    1918 - 22 September 1919
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History:


    In Greek mythology—the god of winds.

    [The first Aeolus was the] Grosser Kurfürst-a steel-hulled, twin-screw, passenger-and cargo steamship launched on 2 December 1899 at Danzig, Germany, by the shipbuilding firm of F. Schichau for the Norddeutscher Lloyd Line—made her maiden voyage to Asiatic and Australian ports before commencing regularly scheduled voyages from the spring of 1900 between Bremen, Germany, and New York City which continued until the summer of 1914.

    When World War I broke out in Europe, Grosser Kurfürst; a liner that boasted "enormous carrying capacity" and "excellent passenger accommodation" for all classes from first to steerage— was forced to seek shelter in American waters. The United States Government interned these ships wherever they had put into port, and upon the entrance of the United States into the hostilities on the side of the Allied and Associated Powers—on 6 April 1917—took them over for "safe keening." Customs agents boarded Grosser Kurfürst in the port of New York, along with 30 other German and Austro-Hungarian vessels, and sent their crews to an internment camp on Ellis Island. However, before these sailors left their ships, they carried out a program of systematic destruction calculated to take the longest possible time to repair. The Navy inspected Grosser Kurfürst and designated her the Id. No. 3005 and earmarked her for service with the Cruiser and Transport Force to carry troops to France. She commissioned as Grosser Kurfürstt on 4 August 1917, at the New York Navy Yard, Comdr. Clarence S. Kempff in command. While the ship was undergoing the repairs and alterations necessitated by the German sabotage and in light of her expected role carrying troops across the Atlantic, General Order No. 320 of 1 September 1917 changed her name to Aeolus.

    On 26 November 1917 the erstwhile luxury steamship now wearing warpaint, departed the Port of Embarkation at Hoboken, N.J., bound for Europe on the first of eight round-trip voyages during World War I, carrying troops to the Old World. She reached St. Nazaire, France, on 10 December and spent Christmas in that French port before she headed home on the 28th bringing the voyage to a close when mooring at Newport News Va., nine days into the year 1918. Shifting thence to Hoboken Aeolus again sailed to France and returned from Brest again to Hoboken.

    Two events highlighted the ship's wartime convoy experiences. The first occurred during the beginning of what was to be the ship's third voyage to France. Aeolus, in convoy, departed Hoboken on 23 April 1918. Two days out, a steering gear casualty in the transport Siboney (Id. No. 2999) forced that ship to leave her assigned place in the formation. Aeolus, to avoid collision with Siboney, altered course radically, and in so doing struck the transport Huron (Id. No. 1408) at about 2100 hours, 25 April. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but both transports were damaged which necessitated their turning back. Aeolus reached Hoboken on 28 April.

    The second event occurred on 1 August 1918, while the ship was returning to the United States from Brest. At 0605, lookouts spotted what looked to be the wake of a submarine periscope some 6,000 yards distant. Changing course, Aeolus stood to general quarters and within a minute of the sighting, her number one and three guns commenced firing. For the next few minutes her gunners fired at the diminishing target until it pulled out of range at 0615.

    While the signing of the armistice of 11 November 1918 signaled the end of hostilities—an occasion that found the ship en route from St. Nazaire to Newport News, Va.—it only meant the beginning of the task of returning American troops from "over there." During the war Aeolus had transported 24,770 men to the European battlefront in her eight voyages. In the postwar months, Aeolus conducted a further seven turn-around voyages, bringing back some 22,080 healthy veterans, and some 5,018 wounded and sick. Commencing her last voyage from Brest on 26 August 1919, Aeolus reached New York City on 5 September and was immediately detached from the Cruiser and Transport Force.

    Decommissioned at Newport News on 22 September 1919 and turned over to the United States Shipping Board Aeolus was presumably struck simultaneously from the Navy list.

    Early in 1920, the Shipping Board let what one contemporary marine engineering journal called "one of the most extensive ship repair contracts ever awarded" in the history of the United States, to the Baltimore Dry Dock and Ship Building Co., of Baltimore, Md., to renovate the ship. Over the next few months Aeolus underwent massive alterations at a cost of nearly $3,000,000.

    Remodeled quarters, an extensive refrigeration system to preserve cargoes of frozen meats as well as the food to be consumed during the voyage, and the conversion of the ship from coal to oil fuel, all helped to make Aeolus one of the best-equipped liners afloat. Resplendent in her new livery—a battle gray hull with a white superstructure—Aeolus departed Baltimore on 20 November 1920 and proceeded to New York City where, shortly thereafter, she was turned over to her operators, the Munson Steamship Company.

    Aeolus sailed under the Munson Line's house flag, carrying passengers and freight to and from South American ports until the summer of 1922. In August of that year, she came under the flag of the Los Angeles Steamship Co. and was renamed City of Los Angeles. After being thoroughly reconditioned for her new operators, the liner sailed on 11 September 1922 for her maiden voyage under her new name, bound for Honolulu, Hawaii, in a new dazzling white paint scheme. In early 1931, the handsome liner figured in an experimental shore-to-ship air mail flight. A Ford trimotor—flying from the Grand Central Air Terminal at Glendale, Calif—followed City of Los Angeles out to sea and, off the California coast, dropped a bag containing 12,527 envelopes onto the passenger liner's deck. The March 1931 issue of the Merchant Marine Bulletin speculated that this was probably the largest single consignment of air mail ever to pass through the Honolulu Post Office.

    City of Los Angeles plied the Pacific between Los Angeles and Honolulu until she was sold to Japanese interests in February 1937 and cut up for scrap.

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