SS Europa (1928)

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SS Europa prior to her maiden voyage
Career (Germany) 100x35px
Name: Europa
Owner: Norddeutsche Lloyd
Builder: Blohm & Voss shipyard, Hamburg, Germany
Launched: 1 August 1928
Maiden voyage: 19 March 1930
Fate: Turned over to France as a war reparation in 1946.
Career (France)
Name: SS Liberté
Operator: Compagnie Générale Transatlantique
Acquired: 1946
In service: 1950 to 1961
Out of service: 1946 to 1950
Fate: Retired in 1961 and scrapped in 1962.
General characteristics
Class and type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 49,746 gross tons
Length: 936.7 ft (283.5 m)
Beam: 101.7 feet (31 m)
Installed power: Four steam turbines generating 105,000 shp
Propulsion: Quadruple propellers
Speed: 27.5 knots

2,193 total passengers:

  • 860 first class
  • 500 second class
  • 305 tourist class
  • 617 third class
Crew: 965 total

The SS Europa (later SS Liberté) was one of a pair of fast ocean liners built in the late nineteen-twenties for the Norddeutsche Lloyd line (NDL) for the transatlantic passenger service. Her sister ship was the Bremen, and the two were very similar, though not identical.



Europa was built in 1929 with her sister ship Bremen to be the second 50,000 gross ton North German Lloyd liner.

Europa and her slightly larger sister ship were designed to have a cruising speed of 27.5 knots, allowing an Atlantic crossing time of 5 days. This enabled Norddeutsche Lloyd to run regular weekly crossings with two ships, a feat that normally required three.

The launching of Europa took place at Blohm & Voss shipyard, Hamburg on August 1, 1928. Europa was intended to be completed in spring 1929. However, on the morning of 26 March 1929, a fire broke out while still at the equipment dock. The fire raged all day long and it was not until the evening when the fire was under control. The ship's turbines were damaged heavily and also the remainder of the ship had been significantly damaged. After long discussions between builder and shipping company, it was decided to repair the ship. Within eleven months the ship was finished and completed on 22 February 1930. The cause of the fire has never been clearly identified.

Blue Riband

Europa made her maiden voyage to New York on 19 March 1930 taking the westbound Blue Riband from the SS Bremen with the average speed of 27.91 knots and a crossing time of 4 days, 17 hours and 6 minutes.


Like the Bremen, Europa had a small seaplane launched from a catapult on her upper deck between the funnels. The airplane flew from the ship to a landing at the seaplane port in Blexen. The pilots and technicians gained experience later applied to equipping German warships with on-board aircraft.

The catapult was removed from both Bremen and Europa after a few years of service, because it was too expensive and complex.

World War II

During World War II, she was largely inactive. There were plans to use her as a transport in Operation Sealion, the intended invasion of Great Britain, and later conversion to an aircraft carrier. None of these plans came to pass, and in 1945, she was captured by the allies and used as a troopship, sailing as the USS Europa (AP-177). However, after it was discovered that the ship had infrastructural problems from years of neglect (defective wiring and hull cracks), she was removed from this service.

French Line

File:SS Europa SS Paris sank.jpg
Liberté sunk following a collision with the capsized Paris at Le Havre

After the war she was turned over to the French as war reparations and France began to refit her for passenger service. In 1946 while being refitted, she broke free of her moorings during a storm and collided with the wreck of the Paris and sank.[1] She was raised, and in 1950, made her maiden voyage under her new name, Liberté, to New York.

File:SS Liberte.jpg
Sailing as the SS Liberté in the 1950's

The refitted Liberté received the colours of the French Line, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, as well as lengthened funnels. The original squat-shaped funnels had already been lengthened while in service as the SS Europa, to address the problem of exhaust soot coating passengers, but gained further height for the French Line.

Following eleven years of service as one of the largest transatlantic liners in the French Line fleet, SS Liberté was laid up in 1961 and scrapped in 1962.

SS Liberté was featured prominently in the the Jane Russell film The French Line . The Liberté also made an appearance in the 1954 classic film Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, in the final scenes of the film.


  • Bremerhaven – New York (as Europa)
  • Le Havre – New York (1950 on as Liberté)


  1. "SS Europa / Liberte". 1962-01-30. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 

External links

Preceded by
Holder of the Blue Riband (Westbound)
1930 – 1933
Succeeded by

de:Europa (1928) es:SS Europa fr:SS Europa (1930) ja:オイローパ (客船・初代) pl:SS Liberté sv:SS Europa (1930)