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Up in the Sky - it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Hooveria?

Asteroid - Hooveria

With the recent advances in astronomy, there are now over 300,000 known asteroids in our solar system, though only about 16,000 have been given names. Four of them have been named to honor the humanitarian work of Herbert Hoover.

In 1920, Johann Palisa, an astronomer at the University of Vienna in Austria, discovered a new asteroid that was designated number 932. Two years later, the Academic Senate of the University announced that "As a permanent memorial of the great help rendered to the people of Austria, and in particular to the officers of the higher institutions of learning in Vienna, which was organized by Mr. Herbert Hoover the Academic Senate of the University of Vienna has named the minor planet 932 (1920 GV), 'Hooveria.'" This dedication refers to the work of the American Relief Administration, directed by Hoover, which distributed over $42 million of food and clothing in Austria between 1919 and 1923.

In the summer of 1938, Hoover toured Europe to mark the twentieth anniversary of the end of World War I. He was awarded numerous honorary degrees and received many other expressions of gratitude in the countries he had aided during and after the war. The people of Belgium were especially grateful because Hoover's first great humanitarian enterprise, the Commission for Relief in Belgium, had fed the entire civilian population for the duration of the war. To mark the occasion of Hoover's visit the Royal Observatory of Belgium decided to name another asteroid in Hoover's honor, choosing asteroid number 1363 which had been discovered by Eugene Delporte in 1935. Since the name "Hooveria" was already taken, the new asteroid was named "Herberta."

Although "Herberta" and "Hooveria" refer to Hoover personally, two other asteroids were named to honor the humanitarian work of the American Relief Administration. An asteroid discovered in 1912 by the Russian astronomer Sergei Beljawsky, was later numbered and named 849 ARA in recognition of the aid provided during the great famine in Russia in 1922 and 1923. Another asteroid, discovered in 1915 by the Russian astronomer Grigory Neujmin, was numbered and named 916 America. It is believed that it too was named in appreciation for the help received from the American Relief Administration.


SS President Hoover (1)

Drawing of SS President Hoover (1)Before the days of international air travel, when passenger liners ruled the oceans and crossings were measured in days instead of hours, two passenger liners were named in honor of President Hoover. On December 9, 1930, the first SS President Hoover was christened by First Lady Lou Henry Hoover in Newport News, Virginia. At the time of their construction, SS President Hoover and her twin sister SS President Coolidge were the largest passenger ships ever built in the United States, though they were small compared with some of the great liners operated by European companies.

SS President Hoover was 654 feet 3 inches long, 81 feet wide, 34 feet deep and displaced 30,924 tons with a gross tonnage (volume) of 21,936 tons. In addition to passenger accommodations (214 to 307 First Class, 133 Special Class, 170 Third Class, 380 Steerage Class plus 324 crew giving 1,312 people), the ship had seven cargo holds totaling 608,850 cubic feet, of which about 70,000 cubic feet was refrigerated. Included in this cargo space was room for 100 cars. SS President Hoover was powered by an oil-fired turbo-electric system driving two props, providing a cruising speed of over 20 knots and maximum speed of at least 22.2 knots.

SS President Hoover and SS President Coolidge were built as trans-Pacific ships by the Dollar Steamship Line to serve routes between Asia and the West Coast. The line prospered through the early Depression years due to an increased mail subsidy, but by the late 1930s the company was operating at a loss. The year 1937 proved to be a fateful year for both the Dollar Steamship Line and SS President Hoover. Throughout the summer, tensions increased throughout the Far East as the Japanese prepared to invade Manchuria. In late August, Chinese planes accidentally bombed SS President Hoover near Shanghai, resulting in one death and several wounded. SS President Hoover returned to service, but as hostilities escalated, trade and travel in the Far East declined considerably, and Dollar Line's precarious finances worsened. Then, on 11 December 1937, off the island of Taiwan, SS President Hoover ran aground. After many attempts to rescue the vessel, she was declared a total loss. The wreck was sold to the Kitagawa Ship Salvage Company for $500,000 and was salvaged over the next three years.

By 1938, the Dollar Line fleet was worth $11 million, but the company's liability was $17 million, and interest on the debt was accumulating at a rate of $80,000 per month. The newly formed U.S. Maritime Commission, headed by Joseph P. Kennedy, judged Dollar Line to be insolvent. Despite a characteristically tenacious effort on the part of R. Stanley Dollar, the government assumed control of Dollar Line and renamed the company American President Lines, Ltd.

SS President Hoover (2)

US Hoover 2After the demise of the first [link] SS President Hoover, the precarious financial situation of the Dollar Line led the U.S. Maritime Commission to take control of the line in late 1938, and the name of the company was changed to American President Lines Ltd. Instead of the $ sign that had graced the funnels of the Dollar ships, the new symbol was a white eagle.

In May 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed a state of national emergency due to the war in Europe, and the armed forces began chartering the American President Lines ships. Over the next four years, the American President Lines ships were decimated by the war. At the start of the war there had 20 ships. Of these, only three were left at the end of the war. After the war, the Dollar family attempted through legal means to recover the company from the government, but was unsuccessful. They still had a stake in the company, and when the line was sold, the money was split between the Dollar family and the US Government. The company was purchased by a group called APL Associates. The company lives on today and now is one of the biggest container shipping companies in the world.

The second SS President Hoover was built in 1939 as the Panama for the Panama Lines service from New York, via Haiti, carrying 216 first class passengers and cargo. She was sold to American President Lines in 1957, renamed the President Hoover, and put into service on a Pacific circuit from San Francisco. In 1962 she was replaced by the larger President Roosevelt (which later became the Chandris Atlantis). Chandris Line acquired President Hoover in 1964 and renamed her Regina. She was finally scrapped in 1985.

After the end of the passenger liner era, APL named two cargo ships in honor of Mr. Hoover. President Hoover (3) served under the APL flag from 1967 to 1972; President Hoover (4) served from 1979 to 1996.

1957-03C: Herbert Hoover aboard SS President Hoover for his 83rd birthday in 1957. With him are family members. The adults (left to right): William Vowles, son-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Hoover III; the former President; Mrs. Vowles; Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Hoover, Jr. The children (left to right): Mark Vowles; Stephen Hoover; Michael Hoover.

1957-47:  Former-President Herbert Hoover blows out the candles on a birthday cake replica of SS President Hoover, August 10, 1957.

1957-47: Former-President Herbert Hoover blows out the candles on a birthday cake replica of SS President Hoover, August 10, 1957.

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