SS Dakota

A broadside image of the SS Dakota
Name: SS Dakota
Operator: Great Northern Steamship Company
Route: Pacific
Builder: Eastern Shipbuilding Company
Launched: 7 February 1904[1]
Christened: 6 February 1904
Maiden voyage: 20 September 1905
Fate: Sank off Yokohama on 3 March 1907
General characteristics
Tonnage: 20,700
Displacement: 33,000 tons at load[1]
  • 630 ft (190 m) over all
  • 608 ft (185 m) between perpendiculars[1]
Beam: 73 ft (22 m) molded[1]
Draft: 73 ft (22 m)[1]
Propulsion: Twin propellers
Speed: 14.6 knots (27.0 km/h)
  • 200 first-class passengers
  • 1,800 steerage passengers

SS Dakota was a steamship built by the Eastern Shipbuilding Company in Groton, Connecticut and owned by railroad magnate James J. Hill of the Great Northern Steamship Company.[2]


SS Dakota and her sister ship, SS Minnesota,[2][3] [4]were described as the largest ships ever built in America.[2][3] Dakota was built "to give impetus to the trade with the Orient", trading with Japan and Hong Kong[3] and travelling the Pacific route. Launched on 7 February 1904,[1] she was a twin screw vessel with four masts and one funnel, capable of 14.6 knots.[5]

She was wrecked when she struck a reef[2] off Yokohama, Japan, on 3 March 1907[3][6] on her seventh journey. The ship was close enough to shore to avoid any deaths and the passengers and cargo were evacuated before she sank.[2] The passengers returned to the United States aboard the Japanese steamship Hakuai.[7] Eighty bags of mail later washed ashore.[8] Unlike the Titanic in 1912, Dakota sank during daylight, and within sight of land, hence several positions of the sinking were recorded with still cameras.

Dakota one hour after going on the reef.

After the ship was lost, Hill vowed not to make any more ships under the American flag, noting the high cost of maintaining a ship in America compared to Japan due to restrictions he regarded as "onerous".[9] Hill did eventually build more ships such as the SS Great Northern and the SS Northern Pacific.


Main engines of the SS Dakota

The Dakota's main engines consisted of two units of three vertically positioned triple expansion cylinders. The cylinders had a stroke of 57 inches and diameters of 29, 51, and 89 inches and were designed to run at 78 RPM, developing approximately 4,800 horsepower each at a steam pressure of 230 pounds per square inch. The engines were designed to drive the ship at 14 knots.[10]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Marine Engineering (1904). "Steamship Dakota". Marine Engineering. New York: Marine Engineering Incorporated. 9 (March 1904): 121. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Dakota Datebook. 3 March 2006. "The Liner Dakota"". North Dakota Public Radio. Prairie Public Broadcasting in association with North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. 2006-03-06. Archived from the original on 2008-03-18. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Strom, Claire (2003). Profiting from the plains: the Great Northern Railway and corporate development of the American West. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-295-98348-5.
  5. "Mystic Seaport Steamships. Mystic Seaport Steamship Images Collection". Archived from the original on 17 February 2008.
  6. McKenna, Robert W. (2003). The Dictionary of Nautical Literacy. Camden, ME: International Marine Publishing. p. 92. ISBN 0-07-141950-0.
  7. "Dakota's Passengers Land". New York Times. 1907-03-06. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  8. "Dakota 1907". Bath Postal Museum.
  9. "Hill won't build any more liners". New York Times. 1907-03-08. Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  10. "The "Dakota" for Pacific Trade a Monster". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. 7 (6): 626. June 1905. ISSN 0032-4558.
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Coordinates: 34°54′N 139°50′E / 34.900°N 139.833°E / 34.900; 139.833

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