The fabled Normandie represented the pinnacle of French shipbuilding and design and is still regarded by many experts as the most beautiful of this century's numerous great passenger liners. Built at St. Nazaire, she was laid down in January 1931, launched on 29th October 1934 and finally completed for sea in May 1935. Originally registered at 79,280 tons gross, she measured 1,030 feet in length with a 117 foot beam, and had a cruising speed of 29 knots. No expense was spared to fit out her interior which was luxurious in the extreme, and she had accomodation for 848 First, 670 Tourist and 454 Third class passengers. Clearing Le Havre on 29th May 1935 for her maiden voyage to New York, she took the Blue Riband for the crossing even though her captain had decided not to push her to the maximum until her engines had settled down. Immediately popular with the travelling public, she made 139 crossings in all before being laid up in New York when the Second World War broke out in September 1939. Seized by the U.S. Authorities in December 1941, plans were set in hand to convert her into a troopship with the new name of Lafayette. Whilst this work was being carried out however, a careless workman started a fire on 9th February 1942 which soon engulfed the ship and she capsized at her moorings due to the weight of water being pumped into her by the fireboats desperately trying to save her. Ultimately refloated in August 1943, it was eventually decided that the costs of repairing her and fitting her out for war service could not be justified and she was broken up in New Jersey in 1946.