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I See a Ship in the Harbour - Part 4 - Ocean Liners - Post-WW II

- Franny Wentzel - Monday, August 2nd, 2010 : goo

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The second World War was as devastating to ships as it was to the people who sailed them. But life carried on...

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Of the pre-war giants only the Queen Mary came through in one piece

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She was joined by her sister the Queen Elizabeth - a ship launched just in time to serve as a troopship...

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...and wouldn't have a 'proper' maiden arrival till the late 1940s

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Cunard also built the Parthia & Media for the not-in-a-great-hurry trade

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The Italians lost nearly everything but a few smallers vessels allowed them to earn enough to build the a pair of fine ships they named the Cristoforo Colombo and - seen here - the Andrea Doria

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Sadly the Doria was lost. Many of her passengers were rescued by the galant old Ile de France

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She'd been considerably changed after the war, losing a funnel in the process

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For the loss of the Normandie the French Line was given Germany's Europa which sat out the war. It was a hard job rebuilding her - for one thing, the Germans never installed a wine cellar - and they had to refloat her after a storm but she finally emerged as the Liberté

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She was a favourite of Hollywood with 'The French Line' and' Sabrina' filmed aboard her and even making a cameo appearance in 'How to Marry a Millionaire'

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The Germans eventually recovered from losing everything again...

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...and purchased the old Gripsholm

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renaming her the Berlin - seen here following the Ille de France out to sea

America decided to reenter the superliner race in a big way with the SS United States

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She was the last ocean liner to compete for and win the Blue Riband for fastest passenger ship on the Atlantic run

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a record she holds to this day

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The 1950s were the last golden age for ocean liners and with the arrival of jet travel their days would soon be numbered...

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The assemblage on the Hudson was still an amazing sight

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And new ships were being built...

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Holland America Line's Rotterdam

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The P&O Line's Canberra

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Moore McCormack Line's Argentina & Brasil

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In 1962 the French Line replaced the Liberté with the spectacular SS France - seen here sailing under the incomplete Verrazano Narrows bridge

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She would be one of the last ocean liners designed solely for the North Atlantic trade only

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In the mid-60s the Italian Line threw economic caution to the wind with the Michelangelo and Raffaello

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They were designed to be used as cruise ships from time to time but they never made a profit doing so and were laid up in the 1970s

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By the latter end of the 1960s only one out of five people made the Atlantic crossing by sea...

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The energy crisis of 1974 would further decimate their ranks. The United States and France were mothballed - the Queen Mary had been turned into tourist attraction - the Queen Elizabeth burned out in Hong Kong harbour on the eve of a revival. The Italian twins wre sold to Iran in 1977. The France was converted into the cruise ship Norway and was recently scrapped.

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Into this environment the Cunard Line launched the Queen Elizabeth 2

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Her 1969 maiden arrival

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Docking marks for the various ships - one has been buffed out

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Cunard was the first in the transatlantic steamer trade and with the QE 2 the last

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She served for many a crossing and even did time as a troopship for the Falklands campaign

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In the 90s she was refitted with Diesel engines - the Cunard Line loved to tinker with her

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She was finally retired a couple years ago. A new generation of megaships sail today but none of the style and grace of an ocean liner

This article has been viewed 27551 times in the last 4 years

Bob: Thanks for the great history lesson.

Deidre Lee: 29th Jan 2011 - 18:22 GMT

This site brings pleasant memories to a young girl we used to love to walk over to the piers and see the magnificent giants lined up all together awaiting their passengers. I sailed from there many times...The SS United States, The Rotterdam, The Ilde de France, the Michelangelo....sad days gone.
I no longer live in the city and my children were born an raised in the country....I used to tell them how awesome it was to stand on the street and look up to these magnificent "ladies". Years late two of them went down to the city and stoppd to see the pier where Titanic was to dock.

Max Reiner : 28th Mar 2012 - 16:06 GMT

Twas lovely to watch the ships come in in lower Manhattan.

Larry Covellone: 4th Apr 2012: 4th Apr 2012 - 15:40 GMT

June 1957 - Mom and I sailed out from NYC on the Saturnia to visit my grandparents in Italy. Two months later we sailed back on the Vulcania. I was only 7 years old but I can still recall those 24 days at sea (total for both trips) as if it was yesterday. Every now and then certain sounds and smells will take me right back there in my memory. And the food!!! Wow!!! Thanks for a great piece of history.

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