1,035 x 110.5 feet
Quadruple Screw, geared CEM-Parsons geared turbines from builders
31, max 35.21 knots
160,000 shaft horsepower
407 First Class, 1,637 Tourist Class passengers
When the SS FRANCE was launched by Madame Charles De Gaulle on May 11 1960, the great era of transatlantic steamship travel was in its twilight years. Replacing two legendary prewar veterans, the stylish ILE DE FRANCE and the much loved LIBERTE, the FRANCE had the distinction of being the longest liner in the world. Her graceful hull was a modified version of the NORMANDIE’s, with a similarly arced “whale back” bow (but with an updated stern), however the FRANCE was perhaps most distinguished by her two unusual funnels, which dispensed exhaust through wings on either side (This feature was quite revolutionary for the day, inspiring a line of much-sought-after ashtrays that incorporated the same principal!). Indeed, in the early 1980′s Carnival Cruise Lines “discovered” this concept, incorporating it with their first new build, TROPCALE, and ultimately making it their architectural trademark with their fleet of “mega” and “super” liners that followed.
This last great French ship of state and final purpose-built vessel for French Line (Compagnie Generale Transatlantique or “CGT”) undertook her trials in November of 1961. The $80 million liner embarked on a shakedown cruise on January 18, 1962 from Le Havre to the Canary Islands, before commencing with a heralded maiden crossing on February 3, 1962 from Le Havre to New York.