A crowd of 130,000 and millions of television viewers saw Madame de Gaulle break a triple magnum of champagne across the bows of the French Line's new flagship "France" at St Nazaire, May 11, as she launched the world's most expensive merchant ship.
AIR VIEWS "France" in dry dock.
SV. Bow of ship with name "France".
GV.PAN. from ship to crowd.
LV. Mme and General de Gaulle arrive.
LV. Mme de Gaulle walks on to launching dais.
GV. Poles are knocked away from ship's bull.
SBV. Mme de Gaulle pulls leaver and launches ship
TV. Ship starts to move down slipway.
GV. Ship enters water.
SCU. De Gaulle waves.
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Background: A crowd of 130,000 and millions of television viewers saw Madame de Gaulle break a triple magnum of champagne across the bows of the French Line's new flagship "France" at St Nazaire, May 11, as she launched the world's most expensive merchant ship.
In a speech after the launching, General de Gaulle - who had arrived with his wife by special plane from Paris - described the liner as a new link between France and the United States, and as a contribution to the prestige and the economy of France.
With a gross tonnage of 60-70,000 - exact figures are not available - the "France" is not much smaller than the Cunard Queens. Longest liner ever built - measuring 1,035 ft - she cost some ???27 million. Accommodating 2,000 passengers, 500 of them first class, she will make her maiden voyage to New York early in 1962, crossing the Atlantic in five days, at a service speed of 31 knots. The "France" more than the combined total of the "Liberte" and the "Ile de France", which she replaces.
Modern techniques is construction and design - such as welding, use of light alloys, and better engines - will make her a more efficient liner than the proud 71,000-ton "Normandy", which was gutted by fire in New York Harbour 20 years ago. Above her eleven decks she will carry a 90 ft radar mast, part of her up-to-date technical and scientific equipment. Luxury amenities and services for her passengers include a garage, a theatre-cinema to seat 700, closed-circuit television and two swimming pools, on of them in the open.