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SS FRANCE, SS NORWAY

Posted on Sunday, April 4, 2010 by

S.S. FRANCE, docking at New York in 1963, Martin Cox collection

S.S. FRANCE, docking at New York in 1963, Martin Cox collection

Built at Penhoet, St. Nazaire as FRANCE
Yard #G19
66,348 GRT
1,035 x 110.5 feet
Quadruple Screw, geared CEM-Parsons geared turbines from builders
31, max 35.21 knots
160,000 shaft horsepower
407 First Class, 1,637 Tourist Class passengers

When the SS FRANCE was launched by Madame Charles De Gaulle on May 11 1960, the great era of transatlantic steamship travel was in its twilight years. Replacing two legendary prewar veterans, the stylish ILE DE FRANCE and the much loved LIBERTE, the FRANCE had the distinction of being the longest liner in the world. Her graceful hull was a modified version of the NORMANDIE’s, with a similarly arced “whale back” bow (but with an updated stern), however the FRANCE was perhaps most distinguished by her two unusual funnels, which dispensed exhaust through wings on either side (This feature was quite revolutionary for the day, inspiring a line of much-sought-after ashtrays that incorporated the same principal!). Indeed, in the early 1980’s Carnival Cruise Lines “discovered” this concept, incorporating it with their first newbuild, TROPCALE, and ultimately making it their architectural trademark with their fleet of “mega” and “super” liners that followed.

This last great French ship of state and final purpose-built vessel for French Line (Compagnie Generale Transatlantique or “CGT”) undertook her trials in November of 1961. The $80 million liner embarked on a shakedown cruise on January 18, 1962 from Le Havre to the Canary Islands, before commencing with a heralded maiden crossing on February 3, 1962 from Le Havre to New York.

S.S. FRANCE, departing Le Havre, Martin Cox collection

S.S. FRANCE, departing Le Havre, Martin Cox collection

The FRANCE joined the Queens ELIZABETH and MARY and the UNITED STATES, all struggling in the wake of jet fuel that now dominated the Atlantic. Despite the odds, FRANCE consistently sailed with a high capacity of passengers (unlike the struggling Cunarders, which were likened to creaking ghost ships). FRANCE was a two class vessel, eschewing the middle category, Cabin Class, in favor of a larger and more spacious First and Tourist (later dubbed “Left Bank”) accommodation. Her interiors were almost spartan, certainly sterile in comparison to the gilded and plush LIBERTE and ILE, but the FRANCE was the product of a late 1950’s/early 1960’s vision. Spindly chandeliers and linoleum vied with formica and chrome, while daring modern art, bold murals, and stark furnishings filled her public spaces.

Toward the mid 1960s, the FRANCE was teamed on Atlantic crossings with the even more spartan UNITED STATES, as both French and US Lines consolidated efforts to keep their ships employed. After the UNITED STATES was withdrawn, the FRANCE would later alternate with arch-rival QE2 in the “struggling” seventies. Kept afloat not so much by her following, but by French government subsidies, the FRANCE was often sent cruising in the winter season, undertaking two much-publicized world circumnavigations in 1973 and 1974.

Responding to soaring fuel prices, the French Goverment announced an end to financial assistance to CGT in July of 1974. After a mere twelve years of service, the FRANCE was to be retired on October 25, 1974, but in September, as the ship was arriving at Le Havre, French trade Unionists seized the liner and anchored her in the channel to protest the loss of their jobs. Disgruntled passengers were finally off-loaded by tender. The strike ultimately failed, ironically bringing a close to the FRANCE’s career even earlier than planned, and inciting negative press before the ship was docked on October 9.

S.S. FRANCE, laid up in Le Havre, Martin Cox collection

S.S. FRANCE, laid up in Le Havre, Martin Cox collection

FRANCE was laid up south of Le Havre, next to a power station. Sealed up and fading with the elements, she was the subject of many rumors, ranging from her use as a hospital ship, floating casino, or hotel, to the most feared option of a premature dispatch to the shipbreakers. In October 1977, she was bought by Akkram Ojjeh, an Arab billionaire, but remained laid up.

Perhaps in part due to the renewed interest in cruising inspired by television’s LOVE BOAT series, Norwegian shipping magnate Lauritz Kloster bought her for a cool $18 million. As the shipping world cynically looked on, Kloster spent some $80 million to convert the “cold weather” SS FRANCE into the “warm weather” SS NORWAY. His fleet of 1960’s/70’s-built cruise ships (the 17,000 gross ton SOUTHWARD, the 16,000 gross ton STARWARD, and SKYWARD) were sailing at or beyond capacity under the moniker of Norwegian Caribbean Lines (later Norwegian Cruise Lines), and Kloster intended to more than double his share of the market with the NORWAY. She was towed to Bremerhaven in August of 1979 and completely rebuilt with a huge new lido deck at her stern, and two outdoor pools. Two huge tenders, the “little NORWAY I and II”, were hoisted on her bow and special cranes were built to offload them at ports where NORWAY’s deep draft prevented her from docking. Her capacity was increased from 2044 to 2181 and her crew complement was decreased from 1100 to 800. Her once chic French interiors were largely restyled and/or replaced with more comfortable and “tropical” fittings. More economic diesels replaced her Turbo generators and in the summer of 1980 she sailed for the US to begin her new role – cruising.

The NORWAY was an absolute smash, sending the competition reeling. Aside from the QE2, she was half again as large as any vessel sailing, offering an onboard experience the smaller ships simply could not emulate. NCL’s Vegas and Broadway-style shows ushered in a new era of glitz at sea, and special celebrity “theme” cruises allowed eager passengers an opportunity to mingle with and see their favorite stars perform or lecture in the ship’s cavernous theater. With the NORWAY, the ship became a resort destination in itself, and her success inspired the competition into a building frenzy that resulted in a fleet of mega passenger ships many thought had ended with the QE2 in 1968.

In 1984, she was sent to Hamburg, where all steam powered auxiliary machinery was replaced with diesel installations. In September 1990 she arrived in Bremerhaven for the addition of two prefabricated passenger decks to increase capacity to 2,565 and her GRT to 76,049.

S.S. NORWAY, after additional decks were added, Martin Cox collection

S.S. NORWAY, after additional decks were added, Martin Cox collection

While her good looks and maneuverability were somewhat compromised by these additions, there is no doubt they were instrumental in keeping the NORWAY in profitable service. The ship has been continually upgraded in recent years, often to the chagrin of ship purists who bemoan the conversion of her original First Class Library into a perfume shop and the removal or redistribution of many of her signature FRANCE brass panels. Recently, her funnel wings were “shut off”, although they remain structurally intact. In keeping with the NCL newbuilds, her Checkers Cabaret was replaced in 1998 with a fancy new Sports Bar.

The NORWAY’s itineraries have ranged from her regular seven day Miami-based Caribbean schedule to summertime cruises from Europe. A small fire in her aft turbo charger room while entering Barcelona, Spain, on May 28 1999 resulted in the termination of her cruise and the cancellation of the following cruise. She was scheduled to return to service, following repairs at Barcelona, on June 12, 1999.

Star Cruises the parent company for Norwegian Cruise Line announced in October 2000 that NORWAY will be retired from her present role. After a series of farewell cruises including a transatlantic from Miami to Southampton, she will be reclocated to the Asian market. Her departure is set for September 2, 2001.

Norwegian Cruise Line surprised the passengers on board the “farewell transatlantic crossing” that the ship would in fact be returning to resume its Eastern Caribbean itinerary. Following a refit in Germany the liner would begin sailing from her home port of Miami on December 23, 2001.

UPDATES:

2002

February 14, 2002: Speculation that NORWAY would sail its last Caribbean cruise under NCL December 29, 2002, then go to sister company Orient Lines was strongly denied by Susan Robison, Director of Public Relations for Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient Lines. NORWAY will be deployed in the Caribbean through April 2003.

December 25, 2002: In an article on Star Cruises, parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, published in Cruise Business Review, it was revealed in an interview of Star Executive VP of Marine Operations & Newbuilding, Nils G. Nordh that Star has prepared a study on the viability of extending the life of the SS NORWAY beyond the post-2010 SOLAS limit. Nordh was reported as saying that he believed it is not only technically possible, but was commercial viable.

2003

May 25, 2003: A boiler room explosion aboard S/S NORWAY killed four crew and injured up to 17 crew members while the ship was docked in Miami. The NORWAY arrived at the Port of Miami around 5 AM, the blast which occurred around 6:48 AM and appears to be an accident. None of the ship’s 3,400 passengers was injured. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue workers responded and the fire was put out in less than an hour.

May 30, 2003: Norwegian Cruise Line reported the death of a seventh crew member from the accident involving a boiler on board the NORWAY. Nine more crew members remain hospitalized and two were discharged while one was removed from the critical list and is now listed in serious but stable condition. One crew member remains on the critical list. NCL has cancelled NORWAY’s June 15 and June 22 sailings.

June 27, 2003: S/S NORWAY departed Miami under tow though no destination was announced. After last-minute wrestling in court, Norwegian Cruise Line moved the crippled ship from the Port of Miami-Dade. NCL said that to meet the repair schedule, the ship had to leave, even though no yard has finalized a repair contract. According to reports, she is headed to Europe. The ship has been at the port since the boiler expolsion May 25 and has run up a nearly $284,000 bill in dock fees. The National Transportation Safety Board finished its investigative work last week and turned the ship back over to the cruise line. The NTSB has not reached any conclusions about what caused the blast. The seagoing tug SMITWIJS ROTTERDAM is towing NORWAY with 85 of her crew onboard. The transatlantic crossing will take approximately three weeks. NCL state that the ship is on schedule to begin cruising again on October 5th, 2003.

July 21, 2003: Norwegian Cruise Line announced laying up the S/S NORWAY at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, Germany, until the process of evaluating bids from shipyards has been completed. The delivery timeframe for the new replacement boiler is now estimated to be between seven and twelve months (significantly longer than first indicated to NCL). Marine boilers are manufactured by specialized companies and then delivered to a shipyard for installation. The detailed specification and bidding process has revealed that no boiler maker is able to meet the ambitious repair deadline initially indicated to NCL by the shipyards. NCL now estimates that the earliest the ship could return to service is in the spring of 2004.

September 25, 2003: S/S NORWAY remains laid up at Bremerhaven. NCL have not indicted any further schedule for service. In mid-September rumours of an agreemant to use her as an hotel and attraction in Amsterdam were circulated in the Dutch press.

September 26, 2003: Final death toll reaches 8 crew killed on S/S NORWAY.

2004

March 17, 2004: Norwegian Cruise Line’s announced via its website: “(Colin) Veitch announced that regretfully the S/S NORWAY would not return to the North American cruise market. The company continues to evaluate appropriate options for the vessel”. It was decided not to re-engine the ship due to the expense. It is reported that plans for her use as a static hotel ship are being examined but that she will not be docked in the US.

January 9, 2004: Laid up S/S NORWAY remains laid up at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven and will be used as temporary housing for workers aboard NCL’s PRIDE OF AMERICA (currently under construction and due this spring) and NORWEGIAN SKY (due to be reflagged to American registry and renamed PRIDE OF ALOHA).

2005

June 28, 2005: SS NORWAY was observed in Cape Town today as her tug DE DA refueled for the continuing voyage from Bremerhaven to Port Klang, Malaysia. Maritime Matters thanks Jan-Olav Storli, Chief Officer Safety & SSO of CRYSTAL SYMPHONY, for the update.

August 10, 2005: SS NORWAY arrived under tow at Port Klang, Malaysia at noon today.

August 13, 2005: As the NORWAY (ex FRANCE) sits anchored in the haze off Pt. Klang, Malaysia, rumors have begun to rumble once again about the 44 year old ship. Apparently, her turbines are still dismantled, making her imminent use as an active, albeit slowed-down cruise or casino ship in the region unlikely. Further, contacts in the region have reported inspections by 14 Indian scrap merchants had been undertaken and that there was a possibility the ship could be towed to Goa, India in the next few weeks.

December 28, 2005: Various industry sources in the U.S. and India have indicated that a firm sale of SS NORWAY (ex FRANCE) to either Indian or Bangladeshi breakers has occurred this week. The vessel has reportedly been withdrawn from the sales lists following this development. In the interim, the ship is still at anchor off Port Klang, Malaysia.

2006

January 6, 2006: Word from India is that SS NORWAY (ex FRANCE) may be headed for Alang and not Chittagong, Bangladesh. It is common practice for scrap merchants to trade ships among themselves, so nothing is firm until the venerable ship has been beached.

May 5, 2006: BLUE LADY is towed away from Port Klang, Malaysia, destination appears to be Alang, India. Notes on tugs: 1976-built INTERSURF (ex BOA PRINCE) and SEAWAYS 5 (ex DEYMOS) are towing BLUE LADY. (SEAWAYS 5 towed the 1953-built laker OAKGLEN and the 1959-built laker SEAWAY QUEEN together to Alang in 2004).

May 14, 2006: Gujarat Maritime Pollution Control Board bars the entry of BLUE LADY to Indian waters.

May 17, 2006: Technical Experts Committee on Ship breaking invites the buyer of the ship, Haryana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd, to submit his report.

May 31, 2006: The Interim Report on BLUE LADY is formerly filed with India’s Supreme Court.

May 24, 2006: While on board NCLA’s new PRIDE OF HAWAI’I, Maritime Matters was able to ask chairman Colin Veitch about the fate of NCL’s former classic two stacked liner. Before the former SS FRANCE was sold for scrap, the art from her two dining rooms, children’s playroom, stairtower, and library were removed. These important works are currently in storage and may be utilized on board a revitalized SS UNITED STATES or another ship in the NCL fleet.

June 5, 2006: India’s Supreme Court lifts the ban on BLUE LADY, allowing her to enter Indian waters, and clearing the way for the iconic ship to be scrapped. The ship will be brought to Alang in Gujarat. The temporary ban on her delivery over issues raised by Greenpeace relating to the significant quantities of asbestos on board has been lifted. The Alang Shipbreakers Association celebrated the decision. The Gujarat Maritime Board will be working with a private company that will monitor potential pollution hazards and a plot of land adjacent to the yard will be used for containing asbestos and the disposal of hazardous materials from BLUE LADY. All arrangements are to be inspected by two regulatory bodies before the ship is beached. Currently, the ship remains outside India’s territorial waters, under tow by the tugs INTERSURF and SEAWAYS 5. Citing humanitarian grounds, Supreme Court of India allowed the to anchor in indian waters. The crew of 22 are on board a vessel with no engine in monsoon season. Court states that Legal arguments will be heard in July. Additional affidavits filed over possible illegal traffic of the ship regarding the obligation of the Malaysian Government to recall BLUE LADY.

June 13, 2006: BLUE LADY is towed toward Fujairah, UAE arriving June 14, anchored shore, one of her tugs, SEAWAYS 5, put in for repair and supplies.

June 16, 2006: Accoring to several international sources, BLUE LADY expected at Alang by end of June.

June 17, 2006: BLUE LADY leaves Fujairah, UAE, possibly headed towards Alang. Meanwhile, rumours over a variety of last minute plans to save the ship from being scraped are hurtling across the internet.

June 24, 2006: Press reports put BLUE LADY as arriving off Alang in a few days time.

June 26, 2006: BLUE LADY was due at Alang this week, but the latest indicators from India are that the tug is stalled again and that she will now arrive at the anchorage in two weeks time.

June 28, 2006: Gulf newspaper Khaleeji Times front page headline today, reads “Dubai bid to save historic cruise liner”. The story concerns a group of investors reportedly in a bid to save purchase BLUE LADY( ex FRANCE, NORWAY), from her Indian breakers and spend US$100-120 million refitting the ship as a luxury floating hotel and conference center moored in Dubai’s harbour. The newspaper reports “Project Dubai” to be offering the breakers approximately US$3 million profit for not scrapping the vessel. Meanwhile, the ship moves slowly towards the beach of doom.

June 29, 2006: BLUE LADY, ex FRANCE, NORWAY nears Gujarat Coastline. The owner of Haryana ship demolition company is reported to have said that, “she is expected to reach Pipavav Port tonight or by early morning tomorrow.” The ex FRANCE has yet to receive permission to be beached at Alang and will be anchored at Pipavav port of Amreli district. The BLUE LADY will be allowed into Alang only after the local authorities are given the green light by the Supreme Court. The Court had previously permitted “safe anchorage” to the vessel but had directed that the ship cannot be beached or dismantled until it is properly inspected by cout appointed experts.

June 30, 2006: BLUE LADY, ex FRANCE, NORWAY has arrived at Pipavav Port, some 65 km south west of Alang. She will remain at anchor while inspected by court appointed experts, who will report back to the court on their findings.

July 4, 2006: BLUE LADY, ex FRANCE, NORWAY remains at the brink of destruction. The liner sits at anchor off the coast near Pipavav Port, near Alang, while inspected for an inventory of asbestos and any other hazardous materials is carried out, as required by India’s Supreme Court. Ship breakers are rejoicing at her arrival and look forward to beaching her as soon as possible. The court has determined that it will not allow the ship to dismantled in India until the technical report has been filled and it has been determined that the materials can be safely handled. Filling is expected possibly by July 7. Meanwhile, the Khaleej Times continues to report that a consortium of UAE and US companies is making an effort to buy the liner from the ship breakers and take her to Dubai for use as a floating attraction renamed SS FRANCE. “Project Dubai” claims that the ship will undergo a US$80-$100 million refit and re-emerge with as luxury hotel, with restaurants, conference facilities, and French-style stores.

BLUE LADY Inspected
July 11, 2006: Reports from Ahmedabad, India, say that the court ordered inspection of potential hazardous materials on BLUE LADY has been completed. The four day inspection is said to have begun Friday July 8th, while the ship remains at anchor in the huge swells off the coast of Gujarat. No findings have yet been released. The Supreme court ruled that the ship could not be scrapped at Alang until it was declared safe by experts which included members of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution,Control Board and National Institute of Occupational Hazards.

Report submitted on BLUE LADY
July 14, 2006: The anxiously waited inspection report, on hazardous materials, demanded by India’s Supreme Court before BLUE LADY, ex FRANCE, NORWAY could be cleared for demolition, has now been submitted by the court-appointed committee. The inspection team consisted of a 15-member team from Central Pollution Control Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) and National Institute of Occupational Health and GMB. It took five days to compile while the ship remained at anchor off Pipavav Port and was completed July 12. News of the reports contents remains sealed. It is reported that if the ship gets the go-ahead from the court, BLUE LADY will be beached at Yard No V-4, owned by Rajiv Renival of Haryana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd, at Alang to be dismantled.

BLUE LADY Gets Green Light
August 1, 2006: Press from India states that BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) will be broken at Alang after the Supreme Court Technical Committee granted Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) permission to beach the ship tomorrow.

BLUE LADY Set To Beach
August 7, 2006: Sourses in Alang sugest the BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) will be beached on August 9.

Eyewitness Alang
August 14, 2006: From our contact: “I saw the lady and waited for her beaching today in Alang. At last minute it was postponed to tomorrow morning (August 15) and she will be at Alang beach at 7:30 AM.

“From a distance she is quite a sight: graceful and marvelous are the words that come to me. Sadly, also tied up with two monstrous tugs for her last voyage, though.”

Former FRANCE Beached
August 15, 2006: The Times of India confirms the BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has been beached today at Alang.

BLUE LADY, (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) firmly aground at Alang, August 15, 2006. Photo by Malviki Bogah, copyright PK Productions 2006.

BLUE LADY, (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) firmly aground at Alang, August 15, 2006. Photo by Malviki Bogah, copyright PK Productions 2006.

This view shows BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) on December 9, 2006, after she was recently winched closer to the beach at Alang. Prior to this, her bow was almost parallel to shore. Photo by Kaushal Trivedi, copyright P.K. Productions 2006.

This view shows BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) on December 9, 2006, after she was recently winched closer to the beach at Alang. Prior to this, her bow was almost parallel to shore. Photo by Kaushal Trivedi, copyright P.K. Productions 2006.

2007

New Year, No Change
January 6, 2007: BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) continues to sit at her plot bearing witness to all the dying ships around her. All environmental reports are due shortly from the shipbreaking company that purchased her for the Indian Supreme Court to review. The court’s decision on her fate is to be made on 7 March. By then, the famed ship will have been lying on the beach for six months.
February 7, 2007: It is exactly one month before the Indian Supreme Court makes its decision as to whether it will grant the BLUE LADY’s shipbreakers permission to demolish the beloved ship or send her away. Meanwhile, the Gujarat Maritime Board has released a report saying that the former FRANCE/NORWAY cannot be removed without costly dredging and repairs to her hull from the beaching and subsequent winching closer to shore. There have been contemptuous arguments on either side of the issue, so this period of inertia and uncertainty is basically the calm before the storm. In the interim, there are further reports of parties interested in saving the ship for stationary or fully operational purposes, but thus far, no one has come to the plate with the necessary funds to do so.

No Decision!
March 12, 2007: The Indian Supreme Court has given the Gujarat Maritime Board, the Technical Experts Committee, and the Gujarat Pollution Control Board three months to advise if certain environmental stipulations can be met for the dismantling of BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY). This is the latest in delays for a decision on the fate of the famed ship, which was beached on August 15, 2006. Although the court has determined that BLUE LADY cannot now be removed from the embankment, the newest concern seems to be over whether 80 percent of the ten metric tons of asbestos on board can be reused as claimed, how asbestos dust will be contained during its removal, and which agency will be entrusted to oversee the work.

BLUE LADY’s Black Gold
May 16, 2007: The Indian Supreme Court has granted Priya Blue, the Alang-based shipbreaking company that purchased the BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) permission to remove the remaining oil from the ship’s tanks. No firm word on demolition has been granted, however. That decision may arrive within the next ten days

BLUE LADY (FRANCE, NORWAY) September 2007 beached at Alang, India. Photo copyright MaritimeMatters 2007.

BLUE LADY (FRANCE, NORWAY) September 2007 beached at Alang, India. Photo copyright MaritimeMatters 2007.

Court Decides NORWAY’s Fate
September 14, 2007: After months of delays and speculation the Indian Supreme Court, in New Delhi ruled that the 1961-built BLUE LADY (ex SS FRANCE, NORWAY) can be scrapped. The high court rejected claims by environmental groups over asbestos and other hazardous substances within the ship.

Alang Update:
October 30, 2007: BLUE LADY (ex NORWAY) continues to be stripped of her removable furnishings only. The actual breaking process has not begun.

Alang Update:
December 4, 2007: BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) confirming the first cut has been made, leaving the tip of her nose dangling. This is a ceremony performed on nearly every ship to go to Alang and is done just prior to the actual full-scale breaking. As she is not yet in her proper plot (she’s actually blocking another plot or two), it remains to be seen when the comprehensive structural dismantling will begin.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) 2007. Photo copyright P.K. Productions December 3, 2007.

SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) at Alang, January 21, 2008. Photo copyright P.K. Productions 2008.

SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) at Alang, January 21, 2008. Photo copyright P.K. Productions 2008.

SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) at Alang, January 21, 2008. Photo copyright P.K. Productions 2008.

SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) at Alang, January 21, 2008. Photo copyright P.K. Productions 2008.

BLUE LADY, taken on March 4, 2008 at Alang. The cutting has now reached the original FRANCE superstructure. Photo copyright www.midshipcentury.com Peter Knego 2008

BLUE LADY, taken on March 4, 2008 at Alang. The cutting has now reached the original FRANCE superstructure. Photo copyright www.midshipcentury.com Peter Knego 2008

Photo taken April 4, 2008: Cutting of BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has reached the forward portion of the first funnel and taken more away from the bridge area. Photo (c) midshipcentury.com 2008.

Photo taken April 4, 2008: Cutting of BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has reached the forward portion of the first funnel and taken more away from the bridge area. Photo (c) midshipcentury.com 2008.

June 11, 2008: BLUE LADY (ex NORWAY, FRANCE) copyright PK Productions/MidShipCentury.com 2007/2008 and not to be published elsewhere without explicit permission of Peter Knego.

June 11, 2008: BLUE LADY (ex NORWAY, FRANCE) copyright PK Productions/MidShipCentury.com 2007/2008 and not to be published elsewhere without explicit permission of Peter Knego.

June 19, 2008: BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) continues to succumb to the cutters’ torch with large sections of her outer hull plating removed.

December 24, 2008: SS BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has been cut down to the keel and will likely be finished within weeks.

February 4, 2009: FRANCE/NORWAY "nose" up for auction. Photo copyright Thierry Dufournaud 2009.

February 4, 2009: FRANCE/NORWAY "nose" up for auction. Photo copyright Thierry Dufournaud 2009.

Le Nez Du NORWAY
February 4, 2009: The “nose” or very tip of the bow of BLUE LADY (ex FRANCE, NORWAY) has returned to France as part of an auction that will be held on the Champs-Elysees Sunday and Monday, February 8 and 9, 2009 along with many other items from and dedicated to the ship. This will be the second public auction of materials rescued from the ship. A prior sale at Christie’s New York in 2008 failed to bring in high reserve prices on many items, such as chandeliers, chairs, tables and artwork set by a previous dealer. Some of these items are now part of this second auction. “Le Nez”, has an estimate of 80,000 to 100,000 Euros.

END

For more images of the demise of this once great vessel click on MidShipCentury.com.

86 Responses to SS FRANCE, SS NORWAY

  1. Sam Malik

    December 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

    I sailed the NORWAY on my Honeymoon in 1981. She was a great ship, my wife and I cruised her and loved the great design and decorating. When we cruised her her boilers went out and we floated for 24 hours with no power or air conditioning. We slept on the deck that nite in each others arms. It was a memorable Honeymoon. I am really sad to see her dismantled for scrap, what a great loss to all who sailed her.

  2. Vinny

    January 16, 2012 at 7:50 am

    First cruise I ever took in 1987 was on the Norway, sailed her several more times over the years, greatest ship ever, so sad to see her being scrapped….

  3. Terri

    January 17, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    My first cruise was aboard the Norway in Fall of 1987. I was fascinated by the decor, the service, the food, everything. We didn’t get to stop at the private island on the way back as there was a hurricane brewing. This experience just made me want for more, so I have cruised many times on other ships. But, this one will always stick out in my mind.

  4. Craig

    January 27, 2012 at 8:33 am

    My very first cruise was on the SS Norway in July 1983. I was 12 years old and it still remains one of my greatest memories. Although I have most recently sailed on the Liberty of the Seas she still has a place in my heart. Wonderful ship.

  5. Alex Aguilar

    February 19, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I cruised the Norway in the 90’s and when I learned of the scrapping I have to admit that it made me a bit sad. To see her sitting on the beach looking like that is a bummer. I think of all the memories and the energy that has moved on and left her. It’s almost like she lost her soul. As an avid cruiser I love that a few ships have been saved but wish that a few more like the SS France / Norway would have also been added to the list.

    You just don’t have the opportunity to cruise on something like this with this much history anymore.

  6. Jack

    March 9, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    My wife and I sailed aboard the Norway several times in the 80’s, she was a travel agent for cruise only. This was my first ‘boat” I was hesitant to go on a cruise. She took me aboard kicking and screaming, after a week that is how she took me off the boat. The Norway was a classic. Walking down the International Deck, it’s almost like you could see the passengers from years gone by walking hand in hand like ghosts from the past. It was a wonderful ship and we have many good memories. Every cruise director on that ship would warn as you were being tendered to the Private Island, not to swim between the buoys or you may be “Tender-ized”.
    There have been many cruises since our Norway days, but none have that classic elegance. It breaks my heart to see her stripped to the bones in India.

  7. David Daviski

    March 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I spent 4 months on the Norway in 1995, as lead singer of The Klassics, a 50’s and 60’s showband. What a grand lady she was. I’ll never forget the ship, or the people who worked aboard her. I saddens me to see her reduced to scrap, but I guess it was inevitable. We got to play on the same billing as Paul Revere and the Raiders, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Gary Puckett, Sam Moore, and Gary Lewis. It was so much fun, and I’ll always cherish the memories I had aboard this fabulous ship. Farewell, Big Blue…….

  8. Carol Cee

    June 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    My very first cruise in 1988 was on the Norway.
    My honeymoon in 1995 was on the Norway. Awesome memories.
    My heart aches to see such a grand ship reduced to scrap.
    Too bad someone didn’t buy her to make a floating hotel
    or something out of her…..anything to save her.

  9. patrick carter

    June 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    I was fortunate enough to sail on a student discount aboard the FRANCE on her last transatlantic crossing on September 5 1974 from New York. I was to return on her but the crew went out on strike and I had to fly home from England. I shared an outside cabin (Bunkbeds) with another student and we had to go down the hall to use the bath and shower. What a wonderful ship and so many memories.

    I remember sneaking up to first class but really, all the fun was in the so called LEFT BANK class. It is such a shame that just about all ships today are so ugly and unappealing. You can hardly tell one from the other. Most passengers who sail today have little idea how great it used to be and how beautiful the ships like the FRANCE were.

    Patrick

  10. Angel

    July 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    So sad to see the pictures of the great Blue Lady rusting away and getting cut up for scrap. I almost cried. My husband and I sailed on the SS Norway in June of 1987 for our 10th wedding anniversary…it was our very first cruise. What a way to be introduced to cruising, on an actual ocean liner! We have some great photos of the ship and wonderful momentos of that trip. We even renewed our wedding vows on board!

    The only ship that has even come close to comparing to the Norway in our minds is the Queen Mary 2, which we sailed on in September of 2006. The memories came pouring back when my husband and I once again took the tender from the Norway (Little Norway I) from NCL’s Norwegian Sun to Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas in early February, 2012.

    We will always remember the Norway with fond memories.

  11. Susan Jennings

    August 14, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I sailed on the France in Sept. 1963 to spend my junior year of college in Paris. What a fabulous ship it was – the fastest to cross the Atlantic. Great memories of fellow passengers and crew! So sad to read all these years later of her demise. Merci, le France!

  12. Dave in NJ

    August 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

    If you loved this ship, surely you’ll enjoy Maxtone-Graham’s latest book on both lives of the France/Norway. Like all of his books, a terrific read, lot’s of first-hand experiences aboard.

  13. Kenneth Eden

    August 14, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I honestly believe SS UNITED STATES to be the fastest, unbroken holder of Blue Ribband

  14. Stewart Ruskin

    August 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    My wife and I Sailed on the Norway twice, a beautiful classic liner she was , with so much history . our Cabin was on Fijord deck, this was the cabin that has the interior patio converted to the outdoor pool.
    Quite a spacious cabin and the food superb ! She was a true beauty l the new ships look like boxes .

  15. James Kelly

    August 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I first sailed aboard the Gran Dame of the seas in 2000. My wife and I enjoyed our cruise aboard her. Nothing was wrong with the service. YOu said you liked something (Caviar hor’dorves) and they were in your Cabin every night. What a treat, what a spectacual ship. It makes me sad to see her go.. Very sad.. She was not a throw away ship..

  16. MSomer

    September 5, 2012 at 4:56 am

    I sailed Norway on my honeymoon in 1992. Wonderful memories of times gone by… I even got a good $2.000 at the cruise’s bingo! Just wonder how many babies were conceived aboard the ship! Sad to see it go.

  17. JCavender

    October 16, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I installed a new phone system on this ship in 1990 in dry dock at Bremheraven Germany. I sailed her from Miami to Germany and back, spending about a month on it in dock and at sea. I got to know and see about every part of the ship. It was quite memorable and one of the best experiences of my career, from sailing through hurricane Josephine to the crew and staff that I worked with. It was a great ship and it’s sad to see it gone. I thought they trashed the looks of it when they added the new decks, which were installed at the same time in Bremerhaven. What a mess that was. RIP

  18. Liz

    November 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    SS Norway was the first cruise ship that I sailed on in 1988. My husband and I just loved our cruise. He did close up magic on the ship with other magicians on the “Magic Cruise”. What a wonderful ship she was!! It’s so sad that she’s gone now. I cried for her. I have cruised since on other ships, but SS Norway will always be my favorite.

  19. T Dannin

    February 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I sailed on the final cruise of the SS Norway (at that time). Recall being in the shower when the boiler blew up. Sad to see such a pretty ship leave service, but the new ships had greatly outpaced its technology and advancements. Still enjoyed the cruise and am happy to say that I was on the final voyage.

  20. Sandi Luk

    March 9, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I worked on the SS Norway in 1991 for 10 and 1/2 months as a croupier. It was the best time of my life. I still dream of working on the “Blue Lady” known as the “Blue Pig” to crew members. There was a lot of sea days while she was in the Caribbean. So, one would have to work more hours. The memories of her are embedded in my mind.

  21. Sverre Eriksen

    July 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Worked on the SS Norway for 6 years. from 81 to 87 as 2nd. engineer. Worked with plumbers, and liveboates- tenderboates and sanatarysystem. My best experience at sea ever. Signed – sickleave from an accident lovering tenderboat nr. 1 in St Marteen in 87

  22. Rob Fitz-Gerald

    September 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    I sailed from NY to England with my mother (Margaret) in 1963. I was only 3 1/2 but remember the voyage in great detail. Exciting, scary, and fascinating all at the same time! I spent long afternoons under a blanket on a deckchair cuddling with my mum! We picked-up sailors from a capsized navy vessel during the trip but I’ve had trouble attempting to find any details about the rescue on line.
    A great ship, certainly one of the last of its kind! Viva la SS France!

  23. Steven Goforth

    October 7, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I sailed on the Norway in the mid 80’s. (Sorry I don’t have the memory for dates others do!) I was in my early teens but even then I was impressed with the ships history and lines. It took a few more cruises for me to recognize the elegance and beauty we experienced on the Norway. After all the other ships I’ve been on I still think back to the expanses of teak and polished brass and think… That was the true meaning of a Caribbean cruise… All the current ships are just vacation hotels that move around. We were only on her for a week but she is a very fond memory of my youth.

  24. Linda Campbell

    January 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    We sailed several times on the Norway between 1995-2000. My Mother dearly loved her cabin person who called her Miss Bette. My Husband & I who are travel agents took several large groups aboard from Tennessee. I am a history buff and loved all the treasures they had on board. Does anyone remember the swimming pool with the port hole windows where you could see people’s legs while they swam?what wonderful memories that ship gave so many people!

  25. Marcia

    January 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    My heart hurts to see these pictures of them destroying her. I sailed on that great Lady 3 times. She was a beautiful ship. :(

  26. Bertha Swartz

    March 14, 2014 at 6:56 am

    The Norway was my first cruise, but will always be remembered to me the best ship. I sailed on her many many times, and every trip fell a little more in love with her. I am saddened by her dimmize.

    Thank you for the trip thru time.

    Bertha Swartz

  27. Douglas Peters

    March 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Our first cruise ever was aboard the SS Norway in Nov/Dec. 1994. It was a “BIG BAND” theme cruise with four American big bands aboard for our dancing and/or listening pleasure. The Glenn Miller band (leader Larry O’Brien), the Benny Goodman band (leader Bob Wilbur), the Les/Larry Elgart band and the Sy Zentner band. It was a treat of a lifetime and a dream come true. I have a commemorative album of all the highlights and will treasure it as long as I live. To even get a chance to speak to these giants of the music world was out of this world.

  28. Dick Jones

    June 6, 2014 at 6:20 am

    I was a young merchant mariner in 1971 aboard the S.S. Transidaho in the north Atlantic headed to Southampton. A shipmate had an appendicitis attack that needed tending. We rendezvoused with the France in the middle of the night to effect a transfer. I was on the lifeboat with four others that went to the France. It was windy, overcast and the seas were 12′-15′. The trip took almost an hour and both ships would disappear when we were in the wave troughs. When we finally reached the France and pulled along side her, she was the most beautiful ship I’d ever seen. She towered above us and barely moved with the waves as we bobbed up and down aside her. I remember looking up and seeing passengers waving to us. When the last knot was tied they hoisted our shipmate and that was the last I saw of the France. I have always wondered about her fate and am saddened to see her in such bad shape. Ships are like life; there’s a beginning and an end. The good memories will always prevail.

  29. Martin Cox

    June 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks Dick for that very evocative story, I am grateful I sailed in her as NORWAY, having seen her at Southampton as a kid. Ships are like life indeed. – Martin

  30. Kenneth Eden

    June 7, 2014 at 5:32 am

    To Martin and Dick

    Yes, ships are like life, they are born of human vision and built by human hands in shipyards that were indeed divined by mankind.

    I treasure my SS FRANCE sailing, which was in 1971, a 16 day sailing from Boston to the Caribbean. To this day every ship and cruise that I make is compared to the majesty that the SS FRANCE provided. Not bad for a kid barely out of his teens and having already sailed several times in QE2 and SAGAFJORD prior the the “FRANCE experience.

    There will never be anything like her again, and certainly no on board elan has been nor will it ever be found at sea quite like that provided by the SS FRANCE.

  31. Clive

    June 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Kenneth, How lucky you were to have experienced the likes of the Queen Elizabeth 2, Sagafjord and France when you were so young. Sadly, I never even saw the France but I was there in Southampton when as Norway she arrived on her ‘maiden’ voyage. I was in awe of her and decided then and there that I would sail on her and I did, on a Norwegian fjord cruise the first season that she ever did that – 1984. It was a season blessed with glorious weather (except for the week that we were aboard, it poured with rain or was freezing cold – or both). It was, however, a fabulous experience despite the unremarkable food. I never sailed on her again though.

  32. Martin Cox

    June 7, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Hello Clive, I was there too when NORWAY arrived in Southampton, on the end of Hythe Pier, I had taken a train from Exeter to be there. – Martin

  33. Clive

    June 8, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Martin, We didn’t rub shoulders whilst photographing her arrival as I was over by the Queen Elizabeth II terminal, where she tied up. It was one of those occasions when you wanted to be everywhere at once!
    I made my first trans-Atlantic crossing in 1983, aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, it was fun and memorable but there was much about the voyage that was disappointing. The following year, 1984, was when I made the Norwegian fjords cruise aboard Norway, so it was inevitable that I would make comparisons between the two ships. I should not have done so as one was a proper trans-Atlantic voyage and the other was a leisurely cruise. Never the less, as they were both Atlantic liners I did made comparisons and I much preferred Norway. I’m certain that as France she would have been fantastic, if nothing else the food would have been better than aboard the QE2, probably the service too!

  34. Kenneth Eden

    June 8, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Ships and their cruises are the stuff that dreams are made of, and they can become real.

    I am glad that Clive had the chance to sail her as SS NORWAY.

    I must clarify, we took the absolute cheapest of cheapy accommodations because we could not afford the better ones! And, it goes to show, that even in the worst cabins, the magic of a cruise offset the digs.

  35. John Cant

    June 10, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I was lucky enough to work as Canadian Manager for French Line in the 60’s and to travel aboard the SS France on 2 Caribbean cruises. What a great ship, great food, great service, and the price was right, gratis!! Drinks were 10 cents for draft beer and cocktails 2.00 plus I got 50% off!!. People dressed for dinner, no jeans or T Shirts. Sadly these days are long gone. Happy memories

  36. Liz

    September 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    My family and I emigrated to America from the U.K. In 1968 aboard the SS France.

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