SS Ile De France

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SS Ile De France liner launched in 1926, history and images.

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

MARCH 14th 1926

BUILT

PENHOET SHIPYARDS / ST NAZAIRE / FRANCE

WEIGHT

43,153 TONS

LENGTH

791 FEET

WIDTH

92 FEET

SPEED

24 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4

ENGINES

4 - GEARED STEAM TURBINES - 60,000 HP


Ile de France was built for Compagnie Generale Transalantigue, or better known as the French Line. The French Government provided a subsidy to help build Ile de France so French ships could challenge the British and German liners that were dominating the Atlantic run. As the French intended their next liner to be the largest and fastest in the world, they used this ship to try out new designs. The only liners larger at that time were the White Star Line’s 45,324-ton Olympic, Cunard’s 45,646-ton Aquitania and the Hamburg Amerika Line’s Big Three of over 50,000 tons. Although Ile de France was not the largest or fastest liner in service at that time, she did hold records for carrying the highest percentage of first class passengers. Her modern interiors were credited with attracting this lucrative trade. Ile de France could carry 670 1st, 408 2nd and 509 3rd class passengers.

SS Ile de France in port

Ile de France set out on her maiden voyage from Le Havre - Plymouth and New York June 22nd 1927. Although that crossing showed she had serious vibration problems, the French Line put off repairs until her first refit in 1933. Ile de France was docked in New York when World War Two broke out in September 1939. With French ports being targeted by German aircraft at that time, the French Line laid Ile de France up at New York until they loaned her to the British Admiralty in March 1940. The British used Ile de France for carrying cargo to Europe and Singapore until France fell to Germany in June 1940. This led to her being formally seized by the British to serve as a troopship.

After being operated as a troopship out of Saigon and Bombay until 1943, Ile de France joined the trooping convoys on the North Atlantic until the end of the war. The completion of the repatriation of American, Canadian and Indochina servicemen in 1947 allowed the French Line to have Ile de France converted back to her former glory. Her third funnel was removed at that time, as it served no real purpose. Many ships of that time were fitted with an extra funnel as people thought the more funnels a ship had, the better it looked. The first liners to be designed with cosmetic funnels were the Olympic class of the White Star Line. Their fourth funnel only served as an air vent.

Below, Ile de France arriving at New York post World War 11
Ile de France arriving at New York

le de France set out on her first post war Atlantic crossing between Le Havre and New York July 21st 1949. By 1958, she had lost most of her highly profitable first class passengers to newer ships and the ever-expanding transatlantic airlines. Being the pride of France, the French Line tried to dispose of Ile de France quietly by selling her to a Japanese scrapping company. She set out for a Japanese scrap yard in 1959 under the name Faransu Maru. Before being dismantled, she was leased to a film company to be used as a prop in the film ‘The Last Voyage’. This enraged the French Line to an extent they forced the film company to cover all traces of her identity before filming. After being partially sunk and wrecked by the special effects team, she had to be re-floated before being towed to the scrap yard at Osaka/Japan.

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