In May of 1935 the French liner S.S. Normandie set the world’s record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing of 4 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes. At the beginning of the Second World War the French Line kept the Normandy berthed in Manhattan, fearing German U-boats. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the U.S. took possession of the ship, renaming her the USS Lafayette.
The US intended to use the Lafayette as a troopship and began conversion work. Shipyard welding started a fire which quickly got out of control. Efforts to extinguish the fire eventually flooded enough of the ship to capsize her, and she sank at her moorings at Pier 88.
The hulk of the USS Lafayette was stripped and re-floated, but she proved to be beyond economical repair and was eventually scrapped in 1946. Here a US Coast Guard Grumman J4F Widgeon is seen above the wreck in late 1943.
The battleship USS Arizona (BB-39) was built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Here she is seen on the East River in New York City returning from sea trials on Christmas Day, 25 December 1916.
A beautiful photograph of the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) off Manhattan in 1932. Colorado was the lead ship of her class, her sister ships were USS Maryland (BB-46), and USS West Virginia (BB-48). The USS Washington (BB-47) was cancelled while under construction under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty and sunk as a target. The Colorados had turbo-electric propulsion and were armed with eight 16”/45 main guns.
Sisterships USS New York (BB-34) and USS Texas (BB-35) light up the night sky with their searchlights while visiting New York City for the World’s Fair, 03 May 1939. The Empire State Building can be seen in the background to the right.
A fine study of the Dornier Do-X transferring passengers in New York Harbor, 1931. The Do-X arrived in New York on 27 August 1931 after several mishaps and a ten-month journey. She was to remain in New York for another nine months while her engines were overhauled.
The airship Hindenburg passing over Manhattan on May 6, 1937 on her way to Lakehurst Naval Air Station, shortly before the disaster. Her explosion was captured by several news photographers sent to document her docking after crossing the Atlantic. Remarkably, 62 of the 97 people on board survived the fire and crash of the Hindenburg.
Two Boeing Y1B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 96th Bombardment Squadron seen over New York, 28 March 1937. The US Army Air Corps operated thirteen Y1B-17s, for a time they were the only heavy bombers in the USAAC inventory.
The US Navy airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) seen over Battery Park in 1930. She was built as reparations for the First World War at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH in Germany. She served the US Navy from 1924 to 1932 when she was decommissioned.
Part II here: