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Lafayette (APV-4)
ex
Lafayette (AP-53) (1941 - 1943)


Lafayette Class Transport
  • Built in 1935 as SS Normandie at Chantiers and Ateliers, St. Nazaire, Penhoet, France
  • Acquired by the US Navy, 27 December 1941
  • Renamed Lafayette and designated Naval Transport (AP-53)
  • Severally damaged from fire and capsizing, 9,10 February 1942, at New York
  • Uprighted, refloated on 8 August 1943, and towed to Brooklyn Naval Shipyard for lay up
  • Redesignated Transport and Aircraft Ferry APV-4, 15 September 1943
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 11 October 1945
  • Transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 3 October 1946, to Lipsett Incorporated
    Specifications:
    Displacement 83,423 t.
    Length 1,028'
    Beam 117'
    Draft 26'
    Speed 30 kts.
    Complement unknown
    Troop Capacity unknown
    Armament none
    Propulsion
    four steam turbines connected to four electric motors
    four propellers

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    Size Image Description Source
    Merchant Service
    Lafayette 77k SS Normandie as she steams into New York Harbour on 3 June 1935 at the conclusion of her maiden voyage.
    Text and US Navy photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 126k Post card image of SS Normandie entering New York Harbor, dated 4 August 1935. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 266k Post card image of SS Normandie underway, date and location unknown. Photo from the book "Passenger Liners of the World Since 1893" (1979), by Nicholas T. Cairis. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 239k SS Normandie departing Pier 86 New York in 1936, while a crowd of well wishers jams the balcony above the pier. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 238k Post card image of SS Normandie underway, date and location unknown Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 77k SS Normandie sitting idle at her New York Harbor pier after being caught out by the outbreak of World War II. Alongside her is RMS Queen Mary, already painted in grey camouflage paint.
    Text and US Library of Congress photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 102k SS Normandie at her New York Harbor berth with the grey painted RMS Queen Mary opposite. In the foreground RMS Queen Elizabeth is moved with the help of tugs alongside Cunard's Pier 90 shortly after her 7 March 1940 arrival. The smaller, two-funneled ship to starboard of Normandie is Cunard's second RMS Mauretania .
    Text and US Library of Congress photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette (AP-53)
    Lafayette 165k
    Namesake

    Marie Joseph du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette -- born at Chateau Chavaniac, Auvergne, France, on 6 September 1757 -- entered the French Army at the age of 14, and six years later left France to assist the American colonists in their fight for independence from Great Britain. His military contributions to the victory of the Americans were climaxed by the final campaign in which his skillful maneuvering played a major part in the defeat of the British at Yorktown. Taking the gratitude of the American people with him, he returned to France in 1781 and later aided his own people in the disturbed days of the French Revolution. As commander of France's eastern Army, Lafayette was captured by the Austrians in August 1792. He was imprisoned for five years, and released after Napoleon's rise to power. For the rest of his life he actively participated in movements for liberty and freedom in France and the world. He died in Paris on 20 May 1834.
    Photo: Marquis de Lafayette. Portrait by Charles Wilson Peale, 1781
    Images of American Political History
    Bill Gonyo
    Lafayette 75k Lafayette (AP-53) after catching fire at New York harbor, 9 February 1942. Those areas of her hull and funnels not yet ravaged by the flames clearly reveal an angular, muted-tone pattern camouflage. US National Archives photo. Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 123k Lafayette (AP-53) with fires unchecked burns in New York harbor, 9 February 1942.
    Wirephoto.
    Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 44k Lafayette (AP-53) after rolling over on her port side, with her funnels laying on the frigid, debris-clogged water, with hundreds of firefighters, civilian workers and military personnel watching in stunned silence.
    Text and US Navy photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 366k Lafayette (AP-53) after rolling over on her port side, with her funnels in the water. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 128k Lafayette (AP-53) on her port side looking toward downtown Manhattan. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 86k Lafayette (AP-53) on her port side, winter 1942. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 93k Lafayette (AP-53) on her side at her Pier 88 berth after having her upper works cut away to increase her buoyancy, and in early August 1943 the salvage crews were able to begin pumping water out of her interior. This image gives a good impression of the challenges faced by workers as they labored on the ship's heavily canted decks.
    Text and US Navy photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 70k This is how Lafayette (AP-53) looked when she was refloated during the high tide at 4:30 P.M., 8 August 1943.
    AP Wirephoto
    Ron Reeves
    Lafayette 147k Lafayette (AP-53) on her side at her Pier 88 berth during pumping operations in August or early September 1943.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command, Photo # 80-G-K-3880
    Mike Green
    Lafayette 103k By 10 August 1943 Lafayette (AP-53) had reached an angle of 30 degrees. The ship partially visible at lower left is Cunard's RMS Queen Elizabeth, which is bristling with weaponry Lafayette would have carried had she made it into military service.
    Text and US Navy photo from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette (APV-4)
    Lafayette 115k Lafayette (APV-4) as seen by New Yorkers on 3 November 1943 as tugboats move her salvaged hull from Pier 88 toward the Navy drydock at Brooklyn Navy Yard, for planned conversion into a high-speed troop transport. Navy inspectors soon discovered that while the liner's basic hull structure was in remarkably good shape, nearly everything else was beyond economical repair. She was ultimately struck from the Navy list and scrapped.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command, Photo No. 80-G-K-3864, text from "Great Liners at War" by Stephen Harding.
    MIke Green and
    Robert Hurst
    Lafayette 37k Lafayette was stripped of her superstructure and uprighted in 1943 in the world's most expensive salvage operation, to date. One of the largest operations of its kind in history succeeded in righting her, 7 August 1943. She was reclassified as an Aircraft and Transport Ferry APV-4, 15 September 1943 and placed in dry dock the following month. Extensive damage to her hull, the deterioration to her machinery, and the necessity for employing manpower on other critical war projects prevented resumption of the conversion program. With the cost of restoring her determined to be too great, her hulk remained in the Navy's custody through the end of World War II. Tommy Trampp
    Lafayette 176k Aerial view of Lafayette (APV-4), 28 June 1945, while laid up at the New York State Barge Canal Terminal Pier adjacent to the Todd yard at Erie Basin, Brooklyn. Note the large number of ships (Navy, Army, and merchant) under repair in the Erie Basin facility.
    US. Naval History and Heritage Command, Photo No. Unknown
    MIke Green

    Lafayette (AP-53)
    DANFS history entry located at the US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    S.S. Normandie
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 9 May 2014