SS France - The Story
The France was launched in May 11 1960 in St-Nazaire, Brittany, with the presence of General de Gaulle and his wife.
She inspired films like "Le gendarme à New-York" starring Louis de Funès and a Belgian comics:
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
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 !!
Main source in French: http://forummarine.forumactif.com/t5...ot-france-1960