The Normandie, regarded by many as the most elegant ocean liner ever built, burns and sinks in New York Harbor during its conversion to an Allied trip transport ship.
Built in France in the early 1930s, the Normandie ruled the transatlantic passenger trade in its day. The first major liner to cross the Atlantic in less than four days, its masterful engineering was only surpassed by its design excellence. The 1,000-foot ship's distinctive clipper-ship bow was immediately recognizable, and its elaborate architecture and decorations popularized the Moderne style. After the American entrance into World War II, it was seized by the U.S. Navy for the Allied war effort and renamed the U.S.S. Lafayette. However, on February 9, 1942--just days before it was to be completed for trooping--a welder accidentally set fire to a pile of flammable life preservers with his torch, and by early the next morning the ship lay capsized in the harbor, a gutted wreck. It was later towed south to New Jersey and scrapped.