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Postby shipstamps » Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:50 pm

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The "Pasteur" was the first large liner to be built in France after the "Normandie." She was launched on 15th February, 1939, by the shipbuilding firm of Chantier et Ateliers de St. Nazaire, at Penhoet, and was intended to replace the liner "L'Atlantique," which was gutted by fire in the English Channel in 1933, with the loss of 17 lives. A month after her launching, fire broke out in the "Pasteur," but it was extinguished after about four hours. Scaffolding inside the funnel caught fire. Pieces of blazing wood fell into the interior of the liner, starting fires in different places. The new¬ness of the paint in the ship helped the fire to tighten it's hold. Flaming torches of wood fell near the liner's fuel tanks, which were full. Had the flames spread to them and resulted in an explosion, the ship would have become a total wreck. Firemen poured tons of water into the ship, which, al¬though successfully quelling the blaze, did considerable damage to the interior of the ship, and the machinery had to be taken to pieces. "Pasteur's" maiden voyage, which should have taken place in June, 1939, had to be postponed as a result of the fire, and it was put back to September of that year. In the meantime, war was declared and the ship was laid up until the summer of 1940. Then she made her first sailing from Brest to Halifax, Nova Scotia, taking out French gold for security. While she was away, France was over-run by the German army. In Halifax she was taken over by the British Ministry of Shipping, and she was made into a troop transport, to be managed by the Cunard White Star Line for the whole of the war period. Up to the end of 1945, when she was handed back to the French, she had carried 256,331 persons on war service and steamed 370,669 miles under Cunard White Star operation. Even then she was not to go on passenger service, as the French Government took her over as a troopship, and she carryied soldiers out of Saigon, French Indo-China, to fight against Communist rebels. The "Pasteur" was awarded the Croix-de¬Guerre (War Cross) for her war service. Originally she was built for the Corn¬pagnie de Navigation Sud Atlantique, for their South American passenger trade, but on returning to France was operated by the Chargeurs Re-Unis Company, for the French Government. Her gross tonnage is 30,447 tons—Speed 26 knots—Length 656 feet—Width 88 feet—and her depth is 28 feet.SG707
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