1st January 1942 Normandie transferred to US Registry

823-at-seaFollowing 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.

599Plans 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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Cunard’s Ivernia torpedoed and lost 1st January 1917

s-s-_ivernia_ca-_1900Cunard’s Ivernia was built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Newcastle. She was launched on 21st September 1899, and made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York on 14th April 1900. There was an almost identical sister ship, Saxonia. Ivernia ran aground in thick fog off Daunts Rock on 24th May 1911, but was salvaged and later rebuilt. She returned  to service on 17th October 1911. She was later used on the emigrant service from Trieste to New York.

az-iverniaWith the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914, Ivernia was hired by the UK government for use as a troop transport, mainly between Canada and the Mediterranean. On 28th December 1916 she sailed from Marseilles for Alexandria, Egypt, with HMS Rifleman as her escort. Carrying over 2,400 troops, mainly from the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, she was under the command of Captain Turner, who had previously been in command of Lusitania when she was torpedoed. On 1st January 1917 she was south-east of Cape Matapan, Greece, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB47. The torpedo hit on the starboard side and exploded in a boiler room, killing 22 of the crew. HMS Rifleman drew alongside and took off 666 troops and 36 crew, Other survivors were rescued by escorting trawlers. The ship sank soon after. Total casualties were 84 troops and 36 crew lost.