MS LAFAYETTE

With the success of the Swedish America Lines diesel powered liner MS Gripsholm, the French Line designed the MS Lafayette to a size that could be powered by the largest marine diesel engines available at that time. Before setting out on her maiden voyage from Le Havre – New York May 19th 1930, the French Line operated Lafayette on a weeklong cruise in European waters to test the reliability of the diesel engines. The French Lines second diesel powered liner, the 28,094-ton Champlain, joined Lafayette on the Atlantic run in 1932. This similar sized ship was the French Line’s first liner to incorporate the new sweeping hull design. The French Line’s largest ever liner SS Normandie entered service in 1935 with a similar hull design and almost every ship thereafter.

On a return crossing from New York in March 1934, Lafayette was caught up in a severe North Atlantic storm. Huge waves crashed through about 50 of her promenade windows causing injuries to many of the passengers. Lafayette’s return to France saw her undergo a few weeks of repairs before being re-deployed on the Atlantic run. Four years later, disaster struck when she was undergoing an overhaul at Le Havre. Oil had been spilled on Lafayette’s furnace room floor and caught fire May 4th 1938. The fire spread to one of her fuel tanks setting of a series of explosions. By the time the explosions ceased and the fires were extinguished, Lafayette was damaged beyond repair. The French Line had her burned out shell towed to the ship breakers in Rotterdam to be dismantled. Champlain also had a short life as she hit a German mine near La Pallice on the French coast June 17th 1940 and sank soon after.

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About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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