Captain Nels Helgesen of the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Company
Captain Nels Helgesen during his long career which began in 1918, commanded every ship of the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Line. The home port of the steamship line was in Red Hook's Atlantic Basin. Starting around the 1920s their ships carried most of the Puerto Ricans migrating to New York and many settled in Red Hook.
A short bio of Captain Nels Helgesen is presented on the The Norwegian Immigration Association's website. Here is an excerpt:
He emigrated to the United States in 1905. In 1912 after attending navigation school in New York he received his first deck license. All of his service would be with the New York and Porto Rico Steamship Company. In 1918 during World War I at the young age of 30 he was given command of the first of many ships of which he would be master for the next 25 years. The vessel was the captured German merchant ship SS Watauga which he would master for the next 25 years.
During the course of his career Captain Helgesen commanded every ship the company operated during this time, which were the SS Watauga, SS Huron, SS Manta, SS Porto Rico, SS Choctow, SS Montoso, SS Marianna, SS San Lorenzo, SS San Juan, SS Ponce, SS Borinquen, SS Puerto Rico, and the SS Coamo