Home > ALL POSTS > French Line’s SS DeGrasse first liner to restore New York to Europe Service
French Line’s SS DeGrasse first liner to restore New York to Europe Service

French Line’s SS DeGrasse first liner to restore New York to Europe Service

  • The De Grasse was the first French merchant ship to restore the North Atlantic service after World War 2. The repairs and refurbishment took close to two years, but when the De Grasse returned to service in the summer of 1947, she was an almost entirely new ship.
Passengers sun themselves on a summer trans-Atlantic sailing.

Passengers enjoying the sun on a summer Trans-Atlantic crossing.


Upon her arrival in New York on July 25, 1947, she received a gala welcome by enthusiastic New Yorkers. During this voyage she had not only carried the full load of passengers, but also cargo, among other things containing a large bullet-proof Mercedes that had belonged to Adolf Hitler. The most noticeable exterior change was that of her two funnels that had been replaced by a thicker, single one.

The French Line’s SS De Grasse.  The first liner to sail for the French Line after WW 2.  Another wonderful video from GEORG LINK. His wonderful videos of the great liners is inspiring and available on YOUTUBE.


Crew members test life boats.


Costume party on the De Grasse.


Dancing in the first class ballroom.

During the first year De Grasse sailed without running mates on the North Atlantic.

  • The Île de France returned in 1949 and the replacement for the lost Normandie came as late as 1950.
  • This was the German former Blue Riband championEuropa, running mate to the Bremen. By the time of her entering service, she had been renamed Liberté.
  • Yet another distinguished French group of ships now adorned the oceans.
  • But in 1952, the De Grasse was considered too old to remain on the North Atlantic, and she was replaced by the brand new Flandre.
  • De Grasse was permanently moved to the Le Havre-West Indies run.
  • Here, she steamed – still sporting her black hull – together with the 1931-built Colombie until 1953 when the new purpose-built cruise ship Antilles replaced her.

The SS DeGrasse sails into New York…

Summer sailing across The Pond aboard SS De Grasse... from New York to Europe...

Summer sailing across The Pond aboard SS De Grasse… from New York to Europe…


Morning meeting for the ship’s officers.


Deck crew members.


Crew member in cabin.


Steward and Bell Boy.


Crew swabs the First Class promenade.



Painting of the main lounge.

The year of 1953 was a coronation year for the British. The young Queen Elizabeth II had ascended the throne following the death of her father. Being very popular with the royals, the Canadian Pacific Line had their Empress of Canada booked solid with celebrities, aristocrats and royalty for the occasion. But as they suddenly had lost this ship in a fire, they were

As CGT now was willing to sell their aging De Grasse, it was a perfect opportunity for Canadian Pacific who officially took the ship over on March 26 that year.

Empress of Australia

Empress of Australia

There were speculations of a renaming to Empress of France to honor the former owners, but as no living person with that title existed, the name was changed to Empress of Australia.

The coronation cruise was a success, but as the purchase had been for this one occasion, Canadian Pacific had the Empress of Australia laid up at the end of 1955.

In February 1956, she was sold to the Italian shipping company Sicula Oceanica who renamed her Venezuela. She was supposed to go on the South American run.

On June 11th she made her first voyage in this guise. The sailing started off at Naples, continuing towards Palermo, Malaga, Vigo, La Guaira, Venezuela, Curacao, Kingston, Vera Cruz, Port Everglades and then back home again.

Despite the fact that the Venezuela was an old ship, the Italians thought it worthwhile to make one last exterior improvement in 1960.

The former blunt bow was rebuilt into a raked one, increasing the ship’s length with 30 feet.

The end came in 1962 when the Venezuela stranded on the rocks near Cannes on March 17.

She was declared a total loss and that summer she was towed to La Spezia, Italy to be broken up.

View Latest Articles