SS Independence 1951-2001 and SS Constitution 1951-1995

Please Note: Firefox and some other search engines are not suitable – Use “Internet Explorer” for this page to load perfectly!

Click the logo above to reach the ssMaritime FrontPage for News Updates & “Ship of the Month”

With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer & Author



Page six


A Visual Transformation of the …

SS Independence

With Bill Chefalas

Please Note: All photographs were taken by and/or were provided by Mr. Bill Chefalas, USA – except for those marked otherwise,

Mr. Bill Chefalas was the main graphic designers and construction managers who undertook the renovation of the SS Independence in 1968 he was responsible for her final design based on a view of creation by her new operators. Thus, Bill and his co-workers performed the actual physical layout of the “Sunburst” super-graphic and “Jean Harlow’s” eyes on the sides of the ship, which at that time was dry-docked in Baltimore, MD. This is Billl’s own story in his own words, for which I am very grateful!

SS Independence is seen here at sea prior to her new look in 1968

From the author’s private collection

“I was the graphic designer and delineator of the sunburst and Jean Harlow’s eyes on the sides of the ship. We commenced in March, 1968, I spent three months in a Baltimore, Maryland, shipyard (it was the same time when Martin Luther King was assassinated) and physically lay out the design on the hull, life boats, and smoke stacks. The way I did it is a long story. But here are a few facts and insights although, obviously there are many more.

I hired a local crew of surveyors, and using miner’s transits and communicating via two-way radios, we actually snapped the lines on both sides of the ship. We had a custom fabricated steel tray made which was about twenty feet long by four feet wide, that would hold two men, and a gantry crane would hoist us up the side of the ship in order to snap our lines. We stayed in that tray all day, and even ate our lunch there. I also hired a local painting contractor, one who had experience painting water towers in Baltimore, and soon the painting commenced. It took over three months to complete. The down side of it all was that after we finished one side of the ship, we had to start all over again, but in reverse, and that time from the water side and from a floating barge. The real challenge was having the converging stripes line up at the top of the smoke stacks (see attached picture of the forward smokestack) I certainly lost a great deal of sleep around that time!

The Sunburst stripes would not reach to the top of the forward funnel on both sides

In relation to Jean Harlow’s eyes: After the eyes were painted on the ship, everyone thought they may possibly be a map of the Caribbean islands. That was because they were looking at the eyes from up close up, dockside and from a short distance that is just what they could have looked like. It was only when the ship pulled away from the dock when people realised that they were Jean Harlow’s eyes. We sort of kept it a secret until that moment for effect for the media! After the painting was completed and with not a day to spare, for the final painted stripes were still drying, I sailed with her from Baltimore to New York City, where she was greeted with fire tugs as well as fireworks.

As the ship was very much aimed at the youth market, she had that modern look throughout and it

featured large banners throughout, with a Circus theme - Now in 2010 Circus is a big hit on many cruise ships!

Obviously the Diner’s Club/Fugasi - Go-Go Cruises were too far ahead of their time


This was advertised as being the “Pop Art” Pool


SS Independence is seen here arriving in New York ready for her maiden cruise series to begin

Mr. Chefalas was onboard when this photo was taken by a workmate

There was one funny thing that occurred during one of the lifeboat drills, the crew mixed up the boats when they were replacing the boats, and thus messed up the continuity of the stripes. Thankfully they only did just once.

To this date, I still have the crumpled up drawing that I made and carried it around in my back pocket for the three months of painting.”

Bill Chefalas AIBD.



 SS Independence is seen here towards the end of her career, she is now broken up off the coast of

Alang India after her long and tragic end, thanks to Asian Casino owned - NCL & Star Cruises

I hereby wish to thank Mr. Chefalas for his kind cooperation, and providing his story as well as the images on this page of the transformation of the SS Independence between March and May 1968, when he designed and applied the revolutionary graphic design to the ship!

Reuben Goossens.



Page One: History of SS Independence and her sister the SS Constitution

Page Two: Photo Page – From beginning to End

Page Three: Deck Plans - American Export Lines

Page Four: Deck Plan – American Hawaii Cruises

Page Five: Photo Page of Independence/Oceanic at Pier 70 San Francisco

Photographs by Patrick Race & Jonathan Haeber

Page Six: The amazing story of SS Independence’s transformation to become the

Fugasi - “Go-Go Cruises” FunShip. A story by the designer Bill Chefalas.

SS Atlantic: This delightful ship sailed with the SS Independence & Constitution from 1960 to 1967.



Use the Back button on your browser or Close the Page to return to the previous page
or go to our

Where the ships of the past make history & the 1914 built MV Doulos Story


Also visit my …

Save The Classic Liners Campaign


Photographs on ssmaritime and associate pages are by the author or from the author’s private collection. In addition there are some images that have been provided by Shipping Companies and private photographers or collectors. Credit is given to all contributors. However, there are some photographs provided to me without details regarding the photographer/owner concerned. I hereby invite if owners of these images would be so kind to make them-selves known to me (my email address may be found on only), in order that due credit may be given.

This notice covers all pages, although, and I have done my best to ensure that all photographs are duly credited and that this notice is displaced on each page, that is, when a page is updated!


ssMaritime is owned and Copyright by Reuben Goossens - All Rights Reserved