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NAME

SS. DE GRASSE (EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA) (VENEZUELA)

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

FEBRUARY 23rd 1924

BUILT

CAMMEL LAIRD / BIRKINHEAD / ENGLAND

WEIGHT

17,707 TONS

LENGTH

574 FEET

WIDTH

71 FEET

SPEED

17 KNOTS - TURBINE ENGINES - TWO   PROPELLERS


De Grasse was the first ship built for the French Line after World War One. With a shortage of materials at that time and a strike in England, her maiden voyage from Le Havre - New York was delayed until August 21st 1924. The French Line operated De Grasse on that run alongside their larger ships, the 23,666-ton France launched in 1910 and the 34,569-ton Paris launched in 1916. The arrival of the French Lines 79,280-ton Normandie on the Atlantic run in 1935 led to De Grasse undergoing a refit in 1938 to make her more suitable for cruising. Following the outbreak of World War Two in September 1939, De Grasse was laid up at New York for a few months before being returned to Bordeaux/France in May 1940. The decision to return her to France soon proved to be a serious miscalculation as she fell into the hands of the advancing Germans. After the German forces were forced to retreat in 1944, they sank De Grasse in shallow waters at Bordeaux to create a blockade.

De Grasse

After the war had come to an end, De Grasse was raised and towed to Saint Nazair to undergo repairs and an extensive rebuild. She returned to the Atlantic run in the summer of 1947 with the most noticeable change being the removal of one funnel. De Grasse was relocated on the Le Havre - West Indies route after the arrival of the French Line’s Flandre on the Atlantic run in 1952. At the time of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth 11 coronation ceremony in 1953, the Canadian Pacific Line was fully booked and had lost their liner Empress of Canada to fire. This led to the Canadian Pacific Line buying De Grasse to serve as a temporary replacement under the name Empress of Australia. By February 1956, she had again been sold, this time to the Italian shipping company Grimaldi-Siosa to be operated on the Naples - Caribbean migrant run under the name Venezuela. Now an old ship, Venezuela was operated on that route until she ran onto rocks at Cannes March 17th 1962. Gramaldi-Siosa had their aging liner towed to La Spezia for scrapping soon after as they declared her a total loss.

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