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SS Normandie salvage completed...

Item # 562717

October 28, 1943

THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York, NY, October 28, 1943

* SS Normandie salvage completed
* Ocean Liner on even keel again

This 48 page newspaper has a two column headline on page 25: "Great Ship That Burned and Capsized in February, 1942, Ready to Be Fitted Out--Salvage Most Difficult in History" and related photo with caption: "Normandie, Now on an Even Keel, Is Turned Over to the Navy Yard" Nice to have in this famous NYC paper.

Other news of the day with much on World War II. Rag edition in great condition.

wikipedia notes: The outbreak of war found Normandie in New York Harbor. Soon the Queen Mary docked near Normandie. She would later be refitted to become a troop ship. In addition, the newly launched RMS Queen Elizabeth docked nearby, so for two weeks the three largest liners in the world were docked side by side. Soon, the Queens left and Normandie was left alone. In 1940, after the Fall of France, the United States seized the ship under the right of angary.

By 1941, the United States Navy decided to convert Normandie into a troopship, and renamed her USS Lafayette (AP-53), in reference to the historical American-French alliance. Earlier proposals included turning the vessel into an aircraft carrier, but this modification was dropped in favor of immediate troop transport needs. The ship was moored at Manhattan's Pier 88 for the conversion. On February 9, 1942, sparks from a welding torch ignited a stack of thousands of life vests filled with kapok, a highly flammable material, that had been stored in the first-class dining room. The woodwork had not yet been removed, and the fire spread rapidly. The ship had a very efficient fire protection system but it had been disconnected during the conversion and its internal pumping system was deactivated. The New York City fire department's hoses also did not fit the ship's French inlets. All on board fled the vessel.

This file is a candidate for speedy deletion. It may be deleted after Wednesday, 16 September 2009.

As firefighters on shore and in fire boats poured water on the blaze, the ship developed a dangerous list to port due to the greater amount of water being pumped into the seaward side of the vessel by fireboats. About 2:45 a.m. on February 10, Lafayette capsized, nearly crushing a fire boat. The ship's designer Vladimir Yourkevitch had been at the scene, and offered his expertise, but was barred from entering by local harbor police. His suggestion was to enter the vessel and open the sea-cocks. This would flood the lower decks of the ship and cause it to settle the few feet to the bottom of the dock. Thus stabilised, water could be pumped into the burning areas without the risk of capsize, however the suggestion was denied by port director Admiral Adolphus Andrews.

The ship was truncated and finally righted in 1943 in what was then the world's most expensive salvage operation. It was subsequently determined the cost of restoring her was too great. After neither the US Navy nor the French Line offered to do so, Yourkevitch made a last-ditch proposal to cut the ship down and restore her as a mid-sized passenger liner. This, too, failed to draw backing, and the hulk of Normandie was sold for a mere $161,680 to Lipsett Inc., an American salvage company. She was scrapped on October 1946.

Category: The 20th Century

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