Echoes of the War
End of the Normandie
Final chapter in the tragic history of the liner Normandie has been written with the disposal of the rusty, ruin of the once pride of France’s mercantile marine, to Morris E. Lipsett.
Lipsett, who paid the U. S. Maritime Commission $161,680 for all that’s left of the ship, which cost $65,000,000 (exclusive of the millions paid out by this country in raising and moving the wreck after the fire of February 9, 1942), said that he bought it as a gamble. He paid $3.80 a ton for the scrap steel in the hulk but doesn’t know what it will cost to get the metal out. Scrap steel is at present selling at about $15.33 a ton.
America will pay the French government $13,500,000 for the ship, which sum, it is said, will be used by the French to purchase some of our Liberty ships.
Although the Normandie proved to be a white elephant since the nation took it over and renamed it the Lafayette, she was not a total loss. In righting her the Navy trained many divers and ship workers who later did yeoman’s service in clearing wrecked ports and keeping the maritime supply lines open.
Fire fighters of New York, who struggled to save the ship on that memorable and chilly February afternoon, will never forget that battle . . . nor will the Navy personnel who lost most of their belongings-—and the scores who narrowly escaped with their lives. There never was a fire like it. There will in all probability never be another.
Hot Off the News Ticker
The 10,000-ton Liberty ship Cassius Hudson was crippled in October by sea mines off Trieste, Italy. This and other mine fields sown by Germans in the last war will endanger commercial shipping for some years it is said. . . . In October, the Admiralty announced that two British destroyers struck unexplained mines in the Mediterranean near Epirus with “some casualties” to crew members. Both ships remained afloat. . . . Officers and men of the R.A.F. (Royal Air Forces) stationed in Iwakuni, Japan, fought a fire in a high-octane gasoline dump which swept the area. They saved three-fourths of the 500,000 gallons stored in the dump. . . . Units of New York City’s marine fireboat fleet saluted the great liner Queen Elizabeth as she steamed up the North River on her first peacetime passenger trip. . . . A three-hour fire in the hold of the U. S. S. Wayne, Navy auxiliary vessel in drydock in Hoboken considerably damaged the hull. Firemen on twoalarm assignment controlled fire, said to have been caused by sparks from a welder’s torch. . . . George W. Angell, fire prevention official of the Allied Headquarters, Japan, estimated that fire losses in Japan this year would be more than 1,200,000,000 yen. Opening a drive against what he termed “amazing indifference” to fires by the Japanese, Angell said that twenty-six had been killed and 240 injured between May 1 and August 1, 1946. . . . Two thousand tons of rubber and other property with a total value of $1,660,000 were destroyed in a recent fire in the Borneo port of Bandjermasin, Batavia.
. . . The famed Narwhal, World War II submarine, was swept by flames for the second time in two weeks at the Quaker Shipyard & Machine Co., Camden, N. J., where she is being scrapped. . . . Fire, which damaged the Wellington, N. Z„ Exhibition Building that city, destroyed 31,000 bales of wool, valued at approximately $2,240,000 and a quantity of New Zealand Air Force equipment. . . . Fire broke out on the aircraft carrier Ark Royal under construction at Birkenhead, Eng., but was extinguished with slight loss. . . . Three American soldiers and three German prisoners of war were killed when a ton and a half of German munitions exploded unexpectedly near Frankfurt Am Main, Germany. . . . Fire damaged the U. S. Cruiser Huntington, in Italian waters; Reports state that the fire starting in insulation, was extinguished in forty-five minutes by the British Royal Navy Fire Service. . . . Hundreds of homeless persons evacuated from the area of Fort Gagaresse, near Toulon, France took refuge in the city after an explosion which killed forty-three persons and injured fifty-seven. Mines, piled to await disposal on the beach, let go unexpectedly only thirty feet from a place where hundreds were bathing. . . . A fire in the storeroom of the 35,000-ton liner Mauretania in Liverpool was extinguished in twenty minutes. . . . Three military American government buildings in the Stuttgart, Germany, area were damaged by bombs in what was described as the first organized aggressive German underground activity in the U. S. occupation zone since the end of the war. No casualties.
Adding to Our Hazards?
Amid all the publicity (most of it founded on fact) about superrockets and guided missiles, it is disclosed that the Army Air Forces has started a $25,000,000 to $35,000,000 development program in Muroc Dry Lake, Calif., to develop the 70-square mile area into the world’s largest airport for jet and rocket aircraft.
It is said the project will require ten years for completion, but already there are two big permanent hangars and some temporary ones, with workshops, offices and Army barracks on the dry lake bed. Runways are reported the longest in the world, one extending seven miles.
In the early days of the war the lake was used for bombing practice, and extensive secret tests of experimental aircraft and rockets have been conducted in the area, located ninety miles from Los Angeles.
Many of the Army’s latest planes are located there, including the giant XB-35 Northrop “flying wing,” the 10,000-mile, 10,000 pound bomber, and the Douglas XB-43 jet bomber with a 400-mile-anhour speed and an 800-mile range.
Just what this development, and the Army’s experiments with V-2 rockets being conducted at White Sands, N. M. —where rockets have been shot over 100 miles into the air—will mean in the way of added hazards to the contiguous areas is problematical but fire chiefs who envision the future do not discount the problems this project will create.