Shirley Lykes Ship Reunion

Some time ago, I posted a number of posts with photographs of Cuban people being taken to the United States on a ship named Shirley Lykes.  Links to the prior posts appear here.  The United States had delivered a great amount of supplies on the ship in exchange for Bay of Pigs invasion prisoners, and their families. 

I also had found and posted at the time a link to an official video of this event:

A couple of months ago, one year after posting the photos, I was contacted by a passenger on the ship.  She said, “I was 18 years old and traveling by myself when I got on the Shirley Lykes. My memory is that few hours after I have boarded the ship a Red Cross representative came to our compartment to announce that the government had given permission to leave to more passengers that originally agreed to, and he wanted a vote from us.  Should they allow them to get on the ship or should they tell them to go home and wait for the next ship?  The vote was unanimous: "Let them board until the ship begins to sink".  Consequently, since they only had provisions for 1,170  people, there were only that many cots and we ended up 4 to a cot.  Of course we sat all night.  I wish someone else that was there will collaborate with my story.  I remember the number being 4,000 (maybe because we were 4 on each cot).”

She said that she wished she could thank the Red Cross workers and maybe communicate with other passengers.  I said, would you like to meet the Chief Mate who worked on the ship during that trip -- the same man who delivered a video from which I obtained the photos.  She said she would. 
Recently, they met.  It was a beautiful evening.  He brought three photo books with very clear photos of the event, much clearer than the old video.   Here they are:

Immediately after they left, I checked my e-mail and found an email from a man who was a young boy on the trip.  I sent him a copy of the video and put the two passengers in touch with each other.  If any other passengers want to communicate, write to and I will put you in touch.


  1. This is a very touching story and very personal to me. My mother came to this country aboard one of the ships that traded medicines for the Bay of Pigs prisioners. She arrived at Port Everglades July 3, 1963. I have been searching for years trying to find the news reel of this event. This is the closest I have come. Please if anyone knows of film for 7/3/63 port Everglades contact me.

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  3. Hello I was four years old when I arrived at Port Everglades on 3 July 1963 with my Papi and my Mami. I don't have any film but would be very interested in seeing any pictures or film of the arrival of the ship on 3 July 1963, What was the name of the Red Cross chartered freighter? do you know?

  4. Seems like a different universe, but I was on that ship as a small boy with my parents, my brother, and my sister. They took my parents' wedding rings away. All we had was a small suitcase. I remember the cargo hatches closing while sailing out of Havana harbor after seeing El Morro lighthouse pass by overhead, and then a lot of sea sick people due the very rough seas. It was wall to wall cots. They gave us each a box dinner, but few could eat it because of the sea sickness. Then, in the morning, the hatches opened to a blue sky and calm seas. We disembarked to a table full of ham sandwiches.
    Those are my memories.
    Lou Lanza

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  6. I was on board this ship. I had just turned 6 on Dec.20. I was so happy to finally find some information on our trip from Cuba. My parents have both died and I would like to share these memories with my children. We where able to leave on this ship because a high Fidel loyalist wanted my fathers poultry farm, so he arranged for us to leave Cuba.