The liner FRANCE

After four years, three months and twenty-eight days of work, the PenhoŽt yards in St Nazaire. launch on 11 May 1960 the liner FRANCE and her first tests begin on November 1961.
Thanks to her superstructure in light alloy, France gross tonnage is lower, with an equal length, than the one of Normandie (66800 tons to 83000 tons ). The reliefs obtained by the use of  welded plates allow the ship to get a service speed of 31 knots for a power of 160000 HP. Her funnels with wings wear the Transat  traditionnal colour (red and black).
Characteristics of France :
Length overall 315.66 m
Length at the waterline 299.25 m
Length between perpendiculars. 290 rn
Breadth amidships 33.70 m
Heigth at Observation deck over the water line 36.90 m
Heigth at the funnel top over the water line 54.40 m
Heigth at the radar mast over the water line 66,90 rn
Displacement  in charge about 57607 tons
Deadweight. about 13 960 tons
Gross tonnage 66348


On 19 January 1962, she fullfishs a first trip to Canaries Islands and on 3 February begins her service between Le Havre and New York.

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Maiden voyage cover


Colour variety  : black funnels.

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With FRANCE III which the first trip Le Havre/New-York occurs on 3 February 1962, there will be three liners with the name of our homeland.
They are fairly famous because one sail during 46 years on all lines of the Company, the  other one because the fineness of  her silhouette with four well bamanced funnels and the splendour of her decoration, which give her the surname of "Atlantic Castle".

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From 1968, the liner is chartered by firms for seminaries ; cruises are organised first to the achieve the ship during the winter, dead-season, then to compensate a loss to win : in 1962, 62 567 passengers cross the Atlantic on France, 5 years later, only 39 244 passengers when the number of cruisers is multiplied by 4 (3065 in 1962, 12178 in 1967).
FRANCE stays on the transatlantic line until 1972, when she is  allocated to agreement cruises around the world. On her first Round the World trip, France cruises during 88 days, from 5 January to 10 April 1972 with 24 calls (and only 4 at pier).


 In July 1974 the company decides to retire her of service because of the increase of her costs. The crew on strike anchored her at the Havre entrance before the ship moored at the oversight pier. Several cancellations -philatelic but not postal- will be realised.


In 1979, Norwegian Caribbean Lines, owned by the Norwegian Kloster, buys her. During nine months, Bremerhaven yards transform her. The after propulsive system is entirely automatised. Her machines are reduced to two turbines, 30000 kW each one, reducing so her speed to 18 knots ;  five transverse thrusters, three forwards and two backwards, of 10 500 HP are installed. The hull is entirely blue repainted, as the funnels. Two giant cranes holding two smaller boats are installed (of four hundred people capacity each one) on the forward deck, backwards decks are lengthened eand indoor spaces refit.

Back of  FRANCE at Le Havre is a great popular succes on 10 September 1996, 17 years after her departure. This great liner remains a nostalgic symbol of a glorious past.


Page created on 22 May 2002

Sources : The Great Ocean Liners
Several french books


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Update on 27 July 2003

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