Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When France Becomes Norway

The title's a trick question. It refers to the cruise liner the SS France, which many people in that country viewed as the embodiment of their country, which was sold when it became unprofitable in the 1970's and became the cruise liner Norway. The France was the flagship of her line (the French Line), the longest liner in the world until the Queen Mary II was built in 2004. Although popular on the transatlantic service and winter cruises, the only way the liner could remain profitable was through subsides paid by the French government. When France decided to throw its money at the airliner Concorde instead the writing was on the wall and the beautiful France went on the auction block. She was sold to the Norwegian Cruise Lines, who wanted her for Caribbean cruises, which were much more profitable in the long term. The ship was modified with additional decks forward and two large landing-craft-like boats called tenders were fitted to davits. These could be used in ports to ferry passengers to and from the ship if she were anchored out and not be left to the vagaries of local transport. Eventually the Norway was out-competed for cruising passengers and then an explosion and fire sort of sealed her fate. She was scrapped by 2008 and you're probably shaving with her remnants this very day. Or maybe not. The model was made by GHQ and I'm really not sure why they didn't do her as the France. I've heard through the grapevine that she's their least popular model, but she really does paint up nicely and could always be employed in a 1980's NATO war scenario wargame.

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