The End is Near


Apr 27, 2005
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Absolutely amazing. The sheer tonnage hauled by women and men towards the beach is amazing in its own right. Looking over Alang, in Google Earth, I note numerous ship hulls that never made it to shore prior to flooding. They appear to be settled into the muck and be filled with soil and sand. Evidently "France" remains afloat, if only enough to clear the tidal zone and get nibbled upon before the next "pull".
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I note numerous ship hulls that never made it to shore prior to flooding. <<

Says quite a bit about what sort of condition they were in, doesn't it? One of these days, all that junk is going to have to be removed. Somebody will really have their work cut out for them.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Some of those sunken hulls might have bit the dust (or flotsam) during storms or monsoons, assuming they were cut low enough at the time. But you are right; eventually, all that scrap will have to be removed, along with the poisoned sediments.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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How many hulls are we talking about here? I would think that local interests would see to the removal of some of them because they would present a formidible barrier to beaching other ships. Besides, with the prices for scrap steel going up, it might be worthwhile economically.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Possibly a dozen hulks, depending on what one can identify from satellite imaging. I would imagine that once buoyancy is compromised, they'd be almost impossible to move with muscle power. Bottom suction and mass would be my first two considerations in leaving them where they lay. The tide would be your best friend in bringing floating remains ashore. Removing them with some type of clam shell on a barge might be possible, but even then, I would think a significant amount of underwater burning would need to take place, similar to the removal of the "Queen Elizabeth" from Hong Kong harbor. Looking at these breaking images, I recall one of the few of Lipsett Steel, breaking up the last bits of the "Normandie" after her hull had been cut away. The "France" always recalled her elder sister in her service life, and now, even in death.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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I'm guessing that she's gone by this date. Couldn't be much left, other than the raft upon which her boilers might have sat. Once they started, they certainly devoured that ship quickly.
 
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Ellen Grace Butland

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Maggots chewing on a corpse, couldn't have put it better myself. Very sad.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Midshipcentury hasn't bothered with any updates since my last post, for whatever that may be worth. If there's anything left still in the water or sitting pretty on the beach, I would think that the only reason for that is because the market for scrap steel has tanked with the rest of the world's economy.
 

James Carey

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Sep 14, 2004
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Whenever I see an update to this thread, I get a sad feeling opening it. Though I want to see the "progress" of the deconstruction, I also am saddened to see this once beautiful lady devoured.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Thank you for the update note, Mike. Actually, there is more left than I had expected. Similar to Jame's note, this has become a macabre fascination, like an automobile accident one can't help but look at.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Probably the only reason progress hasn't moved at a faster rate is because the scrap markets have been having problems just like the rest of the economy. Steel prices have been going down with everything else, yet a lot of older ships are being sent to the breakers causing a bit of a glut on the market.

I'm inclined to believe that they're also being careful to get the more valuable metals such as copper and brass stripped out of the lower levels.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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Remarkable that such a large icon of the Atlantic era could be reduced to rubble so quickly. I wonder which museum quality features were saved, such as the commutator and other bridge fittings? I wonder if anyone in France even noticed the passing?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I wonder which museum quality features were saved, such as the commutator and other bridge fittings? <<

If the people at Alang are holding true to form, I expect anything and everything of any value whatever was stripped out of the ship before any serious demolition work began. They're exceedingly thorough in this respect.
 
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Ellen Grace Butland

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Yea, death by a thousand little cuts, an old Chinese torture. They would have hauled away anything saleable. Perhaps Midshipcentury would know. If no one in France cared, I know of at least one person in Australia who did.
 

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