Wednesday, 12 October 2011

"Come Back Later, the Ship's Still Asleep"

The ship in question, back in 1942, was the atlantic liner, SS Normandie, or by then, USS AP-53 Lafayette. When the war started, Normandie was docked in New York.  Her owners were scared of the german navy, so they just tied her up and transferred their passengers to the SS Aquitania, of the British Cunard Line, whose liners continued sailing.
Eventually, when America entered the war, she was requisitioned by the U.S Navy, and work commenced to turn her from being a luxurious ocean liner to a humble troopship.  It's generally agreed that a worker with a gas cutting torch failed to use an asbestos safety curtain, and fire broke out. 

Amidst arguments about who was in charge of fire-fighting, the fire got out of control. The ship's designer told the authorities that by opening the sea-cocks he could sink her safely upright onto the mud below, but he was ignored by the 'experts'.
As a result, the watertight bulkheads were sealed, thousands of tons of firefighting water were pumped into the upper decks, and the inevitable happened. The fastest steam-turbine-electric ship ever built rolled over into the icy dock.
By the time she was righted, she was only scrap-metal, too expensive to refit.

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  1. Have a look here...

  2. Standing Orders: That was truly fascinating. So many parallels too, in the way the response to the fire failed.

    Most interesting was the info on how the righting was handled. I'd like to have seen that, a fifteen-thousand ton deadweight pull. In the photo, you can see the slack lines to the dock, which I assume were to hold her as she rolled upright, and guard against any possibility of a continued roll.


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