Thursday, March 24, 2011
A Camouflaged Sister - Europa
I recently posted a picture of the German liner Bremen in camouflage paint. I thought today I would follow up with the Bremen's sister ship, which I just completed, the line Europa. It was originally intended that these two liners would be completed at nearly the same time and make a transatlantic crossing together in 1929, which would have really been a sight. However, shortly before her completion the Europa, which was more nearly complete than Bremen, experienced a very serious fire. There was some who thought the ship was so badly damaged that she should be scrapped. But there was a certain pride on the part of the shipyard and its workers that the Europa would be made right and so she was. It took nearly a near but Europa did sail and on her maiden voyage, rather than run into an iceberg and sink like a certain British liner before her, she wrested the Blue Riband from Bremen for the fastest westbound crossing at 27.91 knots. Although Bremen later reclaimed the prize, clearly these were two fast, proud sisters, joining the international greyhounds of the north Atlantic. When war broke out in 1939 Europa was still in Germany and sat idle as an accommodation ship in the early part of the war. Like Bremen she was later camouflaged for the intended invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion), but once that operation was called off she remained idle for the rest of the war. There had been a tentative plan to convert her into an aircraft carrier but nothing ever came of the idea. At the end of the war U.S. forces found the Europa idling at Bremerhaven and took her in hand for reactivation. She was commissioned into the U.S. Navy as the USS Europa (AP-177) and served on repatriation duties (taking the troops home), but was not in the greatest shape. She was finally awarded to the French in compensation for the loss of their liner Normandie during the war. While undergoing renovation she broke her moorings in a ferocious gale and rammed the sunken French liner Paris at Le Harve, sinking on an even keel. She was subsequently raised and once again renovated, finally resuming transatlantic service in 1950. She sailed under the French flag until 1961 when she was finally stricken and scrapped the following year. In the picture the Bremen is in the background while Europa is in foreground. While they did have a similar color scheme (the contractor was instructed to use dark gray, black, white, olive green and blue) the actual patterns were different.