During World War II, Monterey served as a fast troop carrier, often operating alone so she wouldn't be slowed by formation navigation in a convoy. In 1941, before U.S. declaration of war, the United States Marine Corps chartered her to carry 150 Chinese, Korean and Japanese missionaries and stranded U.S. citizens from China to San Francisco. Back in the City by the Bay, she was quickly refitted to hold 3,500 troops. On 16 December 1941 she steamed to Hawaii with 3,349 fresh troops, returning with 800 casualties of the Japanese atack on Pearl Harbor.
On 22 August 1942, she was briefly acquired by the United States Navy and assigned the name/designation USS Alameda (AP-68). However, she was returned to the War Shipping Administration on 25 September 1942 so never served under that name. Her war-time service would see her travel to the South Pacific and Australia, via the Panama Canal and Key West to Scotland (Glasgow), England (Liverpool), North Africa (Casablanca and Oran), Italy (On the way to Naples off the coast of Algeria, she and her convoy were attacked by German bombers) and even one trip to Brasil.
After the war, on 26 September 1946 Monterey arrived at Bethlehem-Alameda Shipyard in Alameda, CA for refitting and return to passenger service with Matson. However, funding for the project ran out after only 30% of the work had been completed so for five years she sat idle in Alameda. She was then purchased by the U.S. Government in August 1952 and towed to the mothball fleet in nearby Suisun Bay.
Meanwhile, her former owners, Matson Line, were enjoying fair post-war success with Lurline and were looking to expand their passenger operation once more. Matson bought the old mothballed s Monterey back from the US Government on 3 February 1956 and, since they had named another vessel Monterry by then, had to come up with a new name for their first Monterey. They therefor rechristened her ss Matsonia, replacing their earlier Matsonia which had been sold to Home Lines. On 22 May 1957, Matsonia teamed up with her sister Lurline on the San Francisco-Los Angeles-Honolulu run providing a 'first class only' service between Hawaii and the American mainland.
Within five years however, profits from passenger service had fallen to the point where Matson decided to anchor Matsonia indefinitely in San Francisco Bay. Sister ship Lurline continued to operate but suffered a major turbine problem in February, 1963; one that would require costly repairs. Instead of repairing Lurline, Matson sold the popular ship to Greek-based Chandris Lines who rechristened her Ellinis. Stung from poor public opinion regarding that sale, Matson rechristened the former Matsonia (ex-Monterey) as the new Lurline on 6 December 1963 and returned her to service.
By 1970, passenger receipts were down so low that Matson chose to cease liner service altogether. On 25 June 1970, Lurline arrived in San Francisco also to be sold to Chandris Lines. Five days later she steamed under new ownership out of the Golden Gate on her way to Piraeus with the new name Britanis.
At Piraeus, she was greatly modified to hold 1,655 passengers, mainly by subdividing existing cabins and converting cargo holds to new cabin areas. She re-entered service on 21 February 1971, leaving Southampton, England bound for Sydney and back; a regular roundtrip she would make for three years. In 1974 she saw service as a cruise ship in the Caribbean during winter and in Europe during the summer. After another lay-up time in 1980, Britanis cruised between New York and Bermuda in May 1982 with a smaller capacity of 1,200 passengers. In the 1983-1984 winter season, she sailed from Miami to the Caribbean, switching back to New York in the summer of 1984.
She received a major overhaul in 1986 which included parts from her sister Ellinis (ex-Lurline), some of which had gone to Ellinis from Homeric (ex-Mariposa) when Homeric was scrapped in 1974. At this point, parts from three sister ships were now bound together in Britanis. This refit gave Britanis eight years of Caribbean cruising until 19 November 1994.
In 1994, Britanis was chartered by the U.S. Government for use as a floating barracks/accomodation ship for military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She suffered minor damage from an electrical fire and was repaired, at U.S. Government expense, and then laid up at Tampa, Fl in late 1996.
During that time, her owners, Chandris, opted to sell Britanis as part of a plan to cease cruise line operation. The ship was maintained in anchorage until 24 January 1998 when she was sold to AG Belofin Investments of Liechtenstein and renamed Belofin-1. Her new owners intended to recoup their investment by selling the ship to scrappers, but a downturn in steel prices held them up for more than a year. On 3 July 2000, Belofin-1 was towed by the Ukrainian ocean-going tug Irbis out of Tampa Bay with the CN Marine ferry Bluenose lashed to her port side. The group was bound for the ship breakers at Alang, India. Belofin-1 began taking on water and listing during the voyage but nobody was on board to right the list. The tugboat crew cut her free and Belofin-1 capsized and sank due to progressive flooding some fifty miles off Cape Town, South Africa on 21 October 2000, ending an illustrious 68-year career.
Total days onboard:
Holland America Line: 1,548
Royal Caribbean International: 83
Princess Cruise Line: 31
Cunard Line: 15
Carnival Cruise Line: 10