And last but not least, my utmost favourite. She had the most beautiful bow. Her maiden voyage was in 1935 but she caught fire on Pier 88 in New-York in 1942. There will never be one like her. SS Normandie
Her mission was to promote the French way of life and the French gastronomy in particular, around the Globe. It's largely felt that her mission was a success, at least from that point of view.
However it was clear from the very beginning that the undertaking would fail because in the 60's, people would rather take the plane to get in a few hours to New-York rather than a ship, how luxurious she might be. Her commander Christian Pettré admitted she was born 5 years too late.
In 1965 the undertaking was in deficit and got subsidies from the State. The deficit was 4 million old franks in 1970 but 73 million franks in 1973.
Despite all this she made two circumnavigations of the World: January to April 1972 & 1974. The first one was a big success but the second one was hard due to the oil crisis. These were the stops from the first circumnavigation:
New York, Nassau, Trinidad, Rio de Janeiro, Port Stanley, Punta Arenas, Valparaiso, Talcahuano, Easter Islands, Tahiti, Suva, Nouméa, Port Moresby, Bali, Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Bombay, Mombasa, Mauritus, Durban, Capetown, Luanda, Dakar, Cannes, Funchal & New York again.
1974 was a year of Presidential elections in France and the new President Giscard d'Estaing with PM Chirac decided to stop the subsidies and the ship will be disarmed by the end of September.
But on September 11 :p 1974 something unexpected happened: a mutiny. 989 marines took control of the ship in harbour of Le Havre and decided to block the entrance to the port in order to have the Company and the State recall their decision. The attempt failed, even though the Unionists suggested plans like shorter cruises.
In December, the ship would be landed on a deserted wharf in the industrial suburb of Le Havre that will be called Quai de l'oubli ("Wharf of Forgetting"). She will stay there 5 years.
in the meantime, she inspired one of the most famous songs in French pop culture by Mr Michel Sardou. A guy who is reputedly right-wing if not more and with this song got sympathies from Unionists and Communists:
When I think of the Old English
That we called Queen Mary
I wouldn't like to end like her
on a Californian wharf
May the biggest warship
Have the strength to sink me
the ass turned up in St Nazaire
Breton land where I was born
Don't ever call me France again
France turned its back on me
Don't ever call me France again
That's my last wish
The song didn't change anything. In 1977 a Saudian billionair bought it but his plan failed (no info on this?) and he sold it to the Norwegian Caraibean Line in 1979. She was then called SS Norway and was turned into a cruise liners and underwent some changes (the speed: 35 knots to 16/18 knots). She leaves the Wharf of Forgetting on August 18 1979. Her new port of registry is Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 2003 a boiler of Norway exploded in Fort Lauderdale causing the death of 6 Philippine marines. The investigation showed that for several years, she was badly kept. She then went back to Bremenhaven, Norway in order to be re-engined but a storm and the cost of the reparation decided NCL that that was it.
In 2005 she was towed from Bremenhaven to Port Keiland, Malaysia (NCL was redeemed by the Malaysian Line). She then got her last name: Blue Lady. On August 2006 she landed in the Alang Bay, India where she was to be dismantled. Plans to save her had existed. Dubai planned to use it for a resort but the QE2 got the prize.
She was totally dismantled by 2009. Total unconcern from the French !!
SOS call for historic ocean liner docked in Philly
By JOANN LOVIGLIO
updated 7/12/2012 3:04:45 AM ET 2012-07-12T07:04:45
The SS United States is seen moored on the Delaware River in Philadelphia on July 9. Caretakers for the legendary ocean liner are renewing and expanding their distress call for the beleaguered piece of American maritime history.
PHILADELPHIA — Caretakers for the SS United States, the legendary ocean liner moored on the Delaware River since 1996, are renewing and expanding their emergency distress call for the beleaguered piece of American maritime history.
In an eleventh-hour reprieve that spared the ship a date with the scrap yard, a local philanthropist's $5.8 million gift allowed the SS United States Conservancy to buy it and keep it afloat until November 2012. With that date looming, the nonprofit conservancy launched a "Save the United States" fundraising rally Wednesday to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the ship's maiden voyage on July 3, 1952.
The conservancy has raised about $6 million so far but needs $25 million to restore the exterior and part of the interior to house a museum, said Susan Gibbs, conservancy executive director and the granddaughter of William Francis Gibbs, the ship's Philadelphia-born designer. The goal is to spark interest, raise public awareness and literally get investors on board.
"The SS United States is America's flagship. It symbolizes the very best that this nation has produced," she said. "It is going to once again be an amazing icon for the nation to appreciate and enjoy."
The fundraising campaign includes a new interactive website, www.savetheunitedstates.org, which allows donors to "purchase" a piece of the ship for $1 per square inch for themselves or in honor of someone else. They can choose the section they want to sponsor by scrolling and zooming around a virtual model on the website, "meet" other donors throughout the ship, personalize and upload images and memories of the ship, and share it through social media sites.
The 990-foot-long ocean liner, which transported patrons across the Atlantic with both elegance and muscle, has spent the bulk of its life in a nomadic existence plagued by shifting owners, dashed hopes and close calls with the scrap yard. But even in its humbled state, the ship newspapers once feted as "the greatest shipbuilding effort in the history of this country" and "the most revolutionary modern superliner in the world" still remains an awe-inspiring sight even to those who remember it from its heyday.
"The engineering, the beauty, the service, the safety — this was the best, the best in the world, none of the ships could compare with it," Joe Rota, who worked on the ship in the 1950s, said during a recent visit aboard the United States. "And it would be an absolute tragedy to lose it."
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The $5.8 million donation from cable TV mogul H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, whose naval architect father designed parts of the SS United States, saved the ship from a likely scrapping and allowed the conservancy to buy the ship from Norwegian Cruise Lines in February 2011 and pay for 20 months of docking and related costs. The conservancy's redevelopment arm is exploring potential partnerships with entities in Philadelphia, New York and Miami to refashion the vessel as a stationary entertainment complex with a hotel, theater, restaurants and shopping — but the clock is winding down along with the money from Lenfest's gift.
"What you see here is kind of discouraging but ... you could scrape this down and you could repaint it, and when we light the lights at night on occasion she's absolutely gorgeous again," Rota said. "And we could have that again. ... This would be an attraction the whole world would want to come and take part in again."
Commissioned as a joint venture between the Navy and ship designer Gibbs & Cox, the $78 million liner's luxury cloaked its military might. Though never called to battle, it could have been converted in a single day to transport 14,000 troops for 10,000 miles without refueling.
Instead it carried more than 1 million passengers across the Atlantic over the course of 400 round trips, among them President John F. Kennedy, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Salvador Dali, Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, and England's King Edward VIII. In 1968, Bill Clinton traveled tourist-class en route to Oxford University.
The liner's glory days were short-lived as air travel rose in popularity, however, and the United States was taken out of service in 1969.
It changed hands multiple times, from the Navy and on through a series of restoration-minded investors. It was unceremoniously towed from Virginia to Turkey to Ukraine, finally arriving in Philadelphia as a gutted hulk. Another succession of developers and a cruise line failed to return the ship to service as retrofitting costs proved too great.
"It's been 60 years since I first set foot on this ship with my mother ... it's very exciting," said Louise Meiere Dunn, 82, of Stamford, Conn., who stood recently on the promenade where she danced the conga on the maiden voyage, when the United States set a new trans-Atlantic record from New York to England: 3 days, 10 hours, 40 minutes.
The record that still stands for a conventional passenger ocean liner.
"We understood there was going to be some sort of celebration when we were going to break the record," Dunn said. "We went out on deck ... but the weather was so foul we came back here and found it on the promenade deck."
She recalled with a laugh that she and the other young people on board partied until breakfast, which they ate while still in their evening gowns and black tie from the night before. Several weeks later, a friend in India saw her dancing the conga on a movie newsreel.
"I'm hoping that this ship can be revived, repurposed," she said. "It would be wonderful to see this promenade deck being used again — and having a conga line, maybe."