To Porto Rico Line

Captain Nels Helgesen
A Legendary Porto Rico Line Master
(Page 2)

Captain Helgesen while 1st mate on the Carolina in 1916.

Captain of the Porto Rico in 1925.

The Puerto Rico's inaugural trip to Puerto Rico in 1938:
Captain Helgesen and his officers during the reception ashore.


The San Juan (3,503 grt, 317 ft. long) at sea in the 1930s. She went into service in January 1900, a few months after her sister, the Ponce.
Both ships were retired only in 1940.

The Marianna (3,063 grt, 335 ft. long) was built in 1915.
Four sisters had been built during 1911-13 - the Corozal, Isabela, Montoso and Lorenzo.
All ships served during WW2 except the Lorenzo, which had been sunk by the Germans in 1915.
The Marianna was sunk by a German submarine in March 1942 on a voyage from Puerto Rico to Boston.

The San Lorenzo (6,223 grt, 401 ft. long) was the ex-Mallory Line ship Brazos built in 1907.
She was transferred in 1912 and renamed in 1919. She was broken up in 1934.

The Choctaw (2,086 grt, 250 ft. long) was one of five sisters built in 1917. They were all requisitioned by the U.S. Navy
during WW1 and finally released to Porto Rico Line in 1921-22. They served until 1928.

The Porto Rico (4,760 grt, 370 ft. long) was originally built as the Prinz Joachim of Hamburg-American Line for use on that company's
New York-West Indies service. The liner was seized by the U.S. Government in 1917 and used by the U.S. Navy as the Moccasin.
She was acquired by Porto Rico Line in 1922 when she became the Porto Rico and was scrapped in 1933.

The Coamo (7,057 grt, 429 ft. long) was built in 1925 and sailed on her maiden voyage in January 1926.
She and her near sister, the Borinquen, built in 1931, set new standards on the Puerto Rico run.
The Coamo was Captain Helgesen's favourite ship, which he commanded
on her final and fatal wartime voyage in November and December 1942.

The Coamo in San Juan around 1936.

The San Jacinto (6,069 grt, 380 ft. long), originally built in 1903 for Mallory Line,
was transferred from Clyde-Mallory Lines in 1933. She became a war loss when torpedoed in April 1942.

The Puerto Rico (5,236 grt, 404 ft. long) was built in 1932 as the Haiti for the Colombian Line.
She was transferred to Porto Rico Line in 1938, being renamed Puerto Rico.
With no success in attracting enough passengers she was again transferred within the AGWI Lines
group of companies, now to Cuba Mail Line to become the Monterey. Still later, in 1948,
she became the Adana of Turkish Maritime Lines, staying in service well into the 1960s.


A Farewell Menu from a summer 1937 Coamo voyage:


Page 1:
A short biography of Captain Helgesen.


(All information and photos/illustrations have been generously provided by Captain Helgesen's son,
Captain Henry N. Helgesen, US Coast Guard, Retired)

Please note that no photos on this page may be used without prior permission from their owner.

This page last updated January 26, 2008.