June 22, 1927
The ocean liner SS Île de France embarked on her maiden voyage from the French port of Le Havre to New York City by way of the then-town of Plymouth, England. Those on board for this transatlantic journey included Myron T. Herrick, U.S. ambassador to France and a former governor of Ohio; and George Wharton Edwards, an acclaimed writer and impressionist painter.
Île de France had been built by Ateliers et Chantiers de Penhoët for Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (widely known as CGT or the French Line). This vessel was the first major ocean liner built after the end of World War I. Île de France was also the first ocean liner decorated mostly with designs associated with the emerging Art Deco style. This motif could be seen in such features of the ship as the grand foyer, dining room, and a full-scale Parisian pavement–café.
The ship’s service as a floating luxury resort was disrupted by the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The final ship to leave France before the start of the war, Île de France made her way to New York City. After France’s capitulation to Germany, Île de France was seized by the British and extensively used as an Allied troopship for the duration of the war.
Île de France was formally returned to the French Line shortly after the end of World War II. After undergoing major renovations, the ship resumed her career as an ocean liner. Île de France played a major role in the at-sea rescue operations following the collision of the passenger ships SS Andrea Doria and MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, in 1956. Île de France rescued at least 750 of the 1,706 passengers and crew of the Andrea Doria.
Over the next few years, Île de France was used a lot less for transatlantic voyages as jet travel grew more popular. The ship was scrapped at the Japanese port of Osaka in 1959.
For more information on the ocean liner SS Île de France, please check out https://www.greatships.net/iledefrance.html.
A video featuring SS Île de France is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH5x3OiufhU.