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Normandie

Normandie

Normandie is seen burning at her pier on February 9, 1942. The ship, which had been seized by the American Government for use as a troopship, was already sporting some dazzle camouflage on her three funnels. Most views don’t show this paint work because it burned off rather quickly after the fire

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This fire was among those that we used to study at Fire-Fighting School as examples of how NOT to fight a ship-board fire. "New York's Bravest" were accustomed to fighting fires in buildings on land, not fires on ships. Consequently, they fought this fire the same way they fought fires on land, by applying water until it went out. Unfortunately, it isn't quite that simple on a ship. The result was that they put the fire out, but all that water compromised the ship's stability to such an extent that she capsized.

Incidentally, this fire occurred in February, so that's not fire-fighting foam floating on the water around the ship and the fireboats, it's ice.

Although a plan was initially discussed to convert this liner into an aircraft carrier, the idea was quickly discarded when it was acknowledged that she would have been far more valuable as a troop transport. Note the additional life rafts, intended for large number of troops the ship would have carried, stacked on the deck between the first and second funnels; already on board, but not yet placed in their launching positions. If the conversion had been completed, Normandie would have operated as USS Lafayette (AP-53).
 

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If only they had listened to advice, which I believe was to scuttle the ship and let her sit on the bottom, then they could have squirted water to their hearts content !
 

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Burntisland Ship Yard, you're correct the ship would have settled an additional 13 feet to the bottom and she woud have been left sitting upright. Klattu83 pretty much tells us exactly why she ended up turning over, it was a tragic and totally unnecessary loss.

Clyde (cunard61)
 

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"...If only they had listened to advice..." -- the advice of her designer, Yourkevitch, no less, who pleaded and begged, on the scene, to no avail.
 

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The question was HOW to scuttle a fully bunkered, burning ship without turning the port into a raging inferno. Lafayette would have been a useful asset, but it was New York harbour that was vital to the war effort.

You may care to read my SN Directory Article for a detailed story of the fire: -

http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/Passenger_Ship_Disasters_-_Part_2#Lafayette.2FNormandie
 

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I agree Fred that protecting the port would have been the priority, but one of the results of the Normandie capsizing was the loss of two of the largest pier slips in the harbor. Those piers remained unusable for the better part of a year, while the US Navy spent that time (and a sizable sum of money as well) to clear the wreck. It really does leave one with a lot to think about, but the Naval Officer in charge at the fire that day had the ship's designer there offering to tell him how the scuttle the ship in an upright position, right where she sat. The Officer choose to ignor the designer's offer to help, and it cost them dearly.

Clyde (cunard61)
 

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Maritime Casualties & Breaking Yards
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