It was the most luxurious cruise-ship in the world in the thirty’s, built as an ocean liner in Saint-Nazaire, France, for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat and is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built.
It is 1942, during World War II the ship was already for long time in the port of New York, when the U.S. seized and renamed “USS Lafayette” to be converted into a troop ship. On February 9, during the renovation, a welder caused a small fire in the first class lounge. This was the beginning of a number of unlikely events: There was no fire extinguisher available in the ship. And the bucket of water, there for emergencies, was accidentally knocked over. The officer on duty could not locate the fire alarm button, But fortunately the ship was equipped with an automatic fire alarm, so a fire would automatically report directly to the fire brigade…
…Unfortunately this was disabled since January 13, 1942.
When they finally managed to alert a policeman on the quay, the fire had now expanded to the smoking room and the long gallery. Finally, at 20:00 the firemen succeeded in extinguishing the fire, but unfortunately .. the ship collected the millions of gallons of water, used by the firefighters in the upper floors and began to tilt. At a 80 degrees heeling angle it finally capsized between piers 88 and 89. The end of a great ship called: “SS NORMANDIE”