AT the mouth of the big River Plate waterway system lie the important ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. It is necessary to cater for the busy traffic between these towns by means of a fast overnight service. British shipbuilders just before the war of 1914-1918 constructed two vessels for this work, the Ciudad de Buenos Aires and Ciudad de Montevideo.
Accommodation for 494 first-class passengers is arranged on a long, narrow, shallow hull with a draft of only 10 feet, and a total height from keel to awning deck of only 23 ft 3 in, and a beam of 44 feet. The overall length is 364 feet, the length between perpendiculars 350 feet. On trials, these remarkable ships made a speed of 19 knots with 5,800 shaft horse power on twin screws. Propulsion is by two sets of geared turbines taking steam from boilers originally designed for coal firing. Passenger accommodation is arranged on all decks, as the plans show. Luxurious first-class cabins and a social hall are placed on the awning deck. The cabins all have doors opening inwards towards a central fore and aft passage, an arrangement similar to that on vessels operating on the Great Lakes of North America. There are two small cargo holds, one forward and one abaft the machinery space. Cargo is loaded and discharged over the side of the ship. There are cranes and side doors for this purpose, but no hatches trunked up to the top decks. The cranes are capable of handling thirty hundredweight. The three gracefully raking cowl-topped funnels and piled-up superstructure give these vessels strikingly handsome lines. These two ships have reached a standard of design in cross-Channel ship construction that has not been improved upon elsewhere. Although nearly twenty-two years old, they still do efficient service and occasionally make short coastwise cruises.