French Liners CGT The French Line

Not open for further replies.
To start a new thread to discuss the various liners of the CGT - French Line

Here is a rare Postcard image of the France coaling as a Hospital Ship in 1916. (Privately issued /Publisher Unknown / Photo-image card)

CGT - French Line
Laid down at "La Picardie"

Builders: Penhoet, St. Nazaire
713 x 75.6 Feet 23,666 GRT

Launched: September 20, 1910

Maiden Voyage: April 20, 1912 Le Harve-New York

1914 at outbreak of World War I converted to Auxiliary cruiser, after the sinking of the German "Kiaser Wilhelm Der Grosse by HMS Highflyer she like all of the other large liners was converted to a troop Transport and renamed France IV. In 1916 she was converted to a Hospital Ship. In 1917 she was converted back to a troop transport until the end of the war. She was used for the repatriation of U.S. troops in 1919. In August of 1919 she was handed back to the French Line and returned to service on the Le Harve to New York run. In 1923 she was converted to oil after most of the other large liners had been coverted. She was scrapped in Dunkirk in 1935.

If you like this image you should see the construction and launch photo postcards I have.

This being another favoriate of mine I have over 85 different postcard images of her and counting.

A web-page might me in the works, but the Aquitania site has been in the works for over a year now, I just need the time, to scan research and write.


Jonathan Payette

Hello Steven,

is there any information site available on the internet about this magnificent liner ? Wasn't it called the "Chí¢teau de l'Atlantique" ? (Castle of the Atlantic)

Jonathan: There was an excellent book put out in France during the 1990s, Arts Decoratifs a bord des Paquebots Francais (Louis-Rene Vian) which contains a ton of information about the France. Much of her interior panelling was saved, and relocated in the 1980s and 1990s. A sizable lot of her Dining Salon woodwork was recycled into a farm shed, in which capacity it served from the mid 1930s onward. It has been restored and, I believe, is back in the possession of CGT. Last time I was in Le Havre they had a small exhibit of what they hoped would one day become a permanent French Line museum. I have a color photo (somewhere) of the salvaged panelling.

I have not found a detailed Web-site available on this Liner as of yet. Just a few with a few images and brief text.

To add some more images before I switch to the Ile De France.

The launch of the France on September 10, 1910(Published Collection Delaveau, St. Nazaire)

Here is a fabulous image of France on the stocks in the Yard of Penhoet, St. Nazaire around early, 1910.

(Publisher: Collection Muret - St. Nazaire)
As for the France if there is a image you are looking to see Jonathan Et. Al. let me know and if I have it in the collection I will post it for you.

Now to switch to the Ile De France

Ile De France
CGT - French Line

Builders: Penhoet, St. Nazaire
792 x 91.9 ft 43,153 GRT

Launched: March 14, 1926

Maiden Voyage: May 29,1927 Le Harve - New York

In 1932 the Ile de France went through an extensive refit of her passenger accommodations which was completed in April, 1933. She then sailed on the Le Harve - New York route until September, 1939, when she was laid up in New York at the outbreak of World War II, In 1940 she was requisitioned as a troop transport and was used by the French in the Indo-China theater.

When France, fell to the Germans in 1940 she was in Sinapore and was taken by the British Government and became a Troop Transport with a French crew under the management of Cunard-White Star Lines (Yes, the Ide De France was a Cunard - White Star Liner for a period of time)

At the end of the War on September 22, 1945 she was returned to France, and on February 3, 1946 she reverted back to the CGT French Line. Her first post-war voyage was on October 33, 1946.

In April, 1947 Ile De France returned to her builders for a major rebuild. During this period her passenger accommodations were overhauled and her funnels reduced to two from the original three.

On July 21, 1949 she completed her second Maiden Voyage after this major rebuild on the Le Harve - New York run.

On July 26, 1956 Ile De France stopped her trans-atlantic Voyage and returned to New York after she rescued 753 passengers from the sinking Iltalian Liner Andrea Doria.

Ile De France continued in service until 1958, On December 11, 1958 she was sold to Yamamoto & Co., in Osaka, Japan to be broken up. On February 26, 1959 she was renamed "Furanzu Mara' and left Le Harve for breaking up. On April 9, 1959 she arrived in Osaka Japan.

Now as a footnote prior to her break-up in Osaka the firm of Yammamoto & Co, leased her out to Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studio's for use in the movie "The Final Voyage" with Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, Goerge Sanders and Edmund O'Brien, durning this film the Ile De France was blown apart and up, and sunk. The destruction of the beloved Ile De France in this movie so irrated the French Line that they vowed to never sell another liner for scrapp to the Japanese.

Launch of the Ile De France / March 14, 1926
Publisher: Edition J. B. Jonbier, St, Nazarie

An excellent image of the Ile De France in the Penhoet Fitting Out basin in St. Nazaire, France mid-1926. Note that the funnel tops are still in the process of being painted

Publisher: J. Mazais Edit. Soteau Nantes

As for information on one of the earlier French Line Liners - "La Aquitaine here is the various information on the history of the "La Aquitaine" that I have pieced togther from my various sources it is also below.

There isn't much information available on her as most modern authors who write histories of Ocean Liners tend to ignore the earlier ships under 10,000 tonnes.

"La Aquitaine" was originally built in 1890 as the "Normannia" for the Hamburg American Line, She was built by the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Compamy of Glasgow, Scotland.

"Normannia" was a 8,250 ton ship with a length of 500 feet and a width of 57 feet, and was equipped with twin screws that gave her a service speed of 18 1/2 knots.

In 1898 the "Normannia" was sold to the Spanish Government along with her sister ship the "Columbia" at this point she was renamed the "Patriota" In 1899 the Spanish government sold the "Patriota" to the French Line for use on their New York Service and she was then named the "La Aquitaine". She was re-fitted and her tonnage was increased to 8,810 tons. "La Aquitaine" continued in the New York service until 1906 when she was scrapped.

LA BOURGOGNE: Here is a passenger list cover from the most notorious of all French Line ships- La Bourgogne. Briefly, for those who don't know the story, she was rammed on 4 July 1898 by the Cromartyshire and sank within an hour, taking 598 people- mostly passengers- with her. There were, I believe, 162 survivors, the majority of whom were crew. Only one woman of the several hundred aboard was saved. There was a horrible panic aboard during the sinking. And those are the only set in stone facts about the disaster. The press was filled with tales of the crew actually killing passengers in their rush for the boats, and throwing those already in the boats into the ocean. Some passengers alleged that they were beaten off of, and out of, boats by oar wielding crewmen, and others claimed that the crew severed the lifelines to which passengers were clinging. One of the officers supposedly had his head staved in by crew he was trying to restrain. Of course, since this all came from the 1898 press it has to be taken with at least some scepticism. However, after reading many accounts by the surviving passengers I have noticed that there is a degree of consistency in what they reported, so the tales of the murderous crew cannot be entirely discounted either. The French Line initially denied the tales of the panic and later "officially" blamed....foreigners.
During the week after the Titanic sank, Mrs LaCasse (the only female survivor) gave many interviews relating her experience. As early as mid July 1898 she was granting reviews along with her husband- who also survived but died before the Titanic affair- both of whom claimed that the tales of panic and murder were overstatements. One of my perpetual "later" plans is to track down as many unpublished first person accounts of the sinking as I can find, to see if away from the guidance of the press people were relating the same stories of murder, or if the not-meant-for-public-consumption stuff was less lurid.
Not open for further replies.