Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, on 22nd December 1941 Normandie was transferred to the US Navy Department, under the name of USS Lafayette, listed as AP53. To all who knew her, however, she would always Normandie. On the 24th December the Commission handed the liner to the US Navy, to to be hastily converted into a troopship, based on experiences gained with Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The American need for troopships helped to speed up the bureaucracy. She was officially entered on the register on 1st January 1942.
Plans were quickly put in hand for her conversion. Initially 18,000 bottles of wine were removed, along with many other items including six grand pianos, four hobby horses and other fixtures and fittings, most of which were later sold at public auctions. 2,400 vans were needed – transport costs alone were put at more than $100,000. Major works of art were carefully removed to storage, panelling was dismantled. Several local warehouses were rented for the storage. Robins Drydock was awarded the contract to convert her to a troopship, the work to be carried out while she was still at her pier. Sadly, following a number of bizarre decisions and careless workmen, on 9th February 1942 she caught fire, and later that day capsized. Too badly damaged and too big to be salvaged at the time, she was eventually scrapped in October 1946.
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