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First keel plate laid in the same slip as "Normandie" at Chantiers de'l Atlanique, Penhoet, Saint Nazaire, France.According to the builders book on the France: “Le Paquebot France”, the keel was laid on October 7th 1957.
The “Ile de France” was withdrawn from service in November 1958, the same year that the first jet liner made successful leaps over the ocean liner.At the time, she had added another 629 nautical miles to her distance at an average speed of 18,28 knots. SS France anchored at Fort De France, Martinique, at hours in the morning.Distance sailed from Saint Thomas was clocked at 317 nautical miles, average speed 25,77 knots. SS France anchored at Bridgetown, Barbados, at hours in the morning, having sailed a total of 122 nautical miles from Martinique, average speed 19,68 knots. SS France anchored at Phillipsburg, Saint Maarten, at hours in the morning having sailed a total of 508 nautical miles from last port of call, at an average speed of 20,32 knots.France departs her lay - up under tow as the Norway.Her new name painted onto the bow but covered to avoid raising protests.After a short stop, she departed again at hours the very same day.
France arrived and anchored off Port Au Prince, Haiti, at hours in the early morning having sailed a total of 702 nautical miles from Port Everglades at an average speed of 19.08 knots. France anchored off Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, USVI, at hours in the morning.
G19 sails for the first time from Saint Nazaire for her sea trials of Belle Isle.
The new liner is now regarded as the "France" and the call sign FNRR is dedicated to her name. First power and speed tests performed and ship achieves a maximum speed of 34,13 knots at 144.000 hp (note: The book, 303, also states that a maximum speed of 35,33 knots was achieved without any vibrations, at sea trials in December 1961)Maiden voyage with Madame De Gaulle and Madame Michel Debre on board as passengers;- a press shake down cruise from Le Havre to the Canary Islands.
The once magnificent ship lay on her side off the berth like big grey and dead whale. Following the devastating loss of the “Normandie” and its burning in New York harbor on February 9, 1942, French Line was given as reparations from the tragedy of the war the German liner “Europa” of 1928.
She was renamed “Liberte” and measured in at 49,746 tons.
The “Liberte” remained in service in time for the new projected liner to take over the North Atlantic run.