The North German Lloyd Line’s Europa was launched a day earlier than her near identical sister ship Bremen. With the two ships intended to enter service at the same time, they had to be built at separate yards, A. G. Weser of Bremen being the builders of Bremen. Europa’s fitting out was nearing completion when she caught fire at the Blohm & Voss shipyard March 25th 1929 and sunk at her berth. Although initial assessments of the damage almost led to Europa being declared a total loss, an operation to repair her was carried out that took almost a year to complete.
Europa eventually entered service in 1930 with the capacity to carry 687 1st, 524 2nd and 813 3rd class passengers. She set out on her maiden voyage from Bremerhaven - New York March 19th. After traveling from Cherbourg - Ambrose (East Coast of America) in 4 days, 17 hours and 6 minutes, she took the Blue Riband from her sister ship Bremen by increasing the average speed from 27.83 to 27.91 knots.
Europa held the westbound record until the Italian liner Rex took that honor in 1933. Although attempts to capture the eastbound record were made, she failed to better Bremen’s average of 28.51 knots.
At the outbreak of World War Two, Europa was painted gray and moored at Bremerhaven to serve as a command post for the German Navy. She joined the other German ships amassing at Hamburg in 1940 to be prepared for the invasion of England. After Hitler called off the invasion, Europa was returned to the navy at Bremerhaven. This seemed to be Hitler’s greatest miscalculation during the conflict as, instead of invading an England unprepared for war, he ordered the invasion of mighty Russia instead.
The advancing US Army reached Bremerhaven in May 1945. With Europa being undamaged, the Americans seized her to be used as a troopship. The end of the war a few weeks later saw the reparations commission awarded her to the French Line as compensation for the loss of their liner Normandie during the war. After US forces had been returned to America, Europa was transferred from New York - Le Havre so the new owners could assess her condition.
Following her funnels being painted in the French Line’s colors and being renamed Liberte, she was laid up at Le Havre until arrangements could be made for a refit to be carried out. A violent storm in December 1948 tore Liberte from her moorings and threw her about until she hit the wreck of the liner Paris and sunk in an upright position, as seen above. By the following spring, Liberte had been salvaged and put into St Nazair to undergo a $19 million refit. This work took longer than expected as she sustained further damage by fire during the refit.
Liberte was finally returned to the Atlantic run five years after being captured by American troops. Her first voyage for the French Line from Le Havre arrived at New York August 17th 1950. Liberte then joined the Ile de France to provide a two-ship service on that run. The French Line took Ile de France out of service in 1958 and took delivery of their 66,348-ton France in 1961. With the arrival of this new liner, Liberte was taken out of service later that year. Liberte completed her final voyage to the scrap yard at La Spezia/Italy January 30th 1962.