Monday, April 12, 2010

The SS Europa

I found what I was looking for online about the Europa, that ship I sailed on as I approached my first birthday. Can't the Internet be wonderful? I even found a couple more pictures of it. It was a German liner, launched in 1930, six years before I was born, so it was in fairly good shape when our group of missionaries traveled on it. It could make the Atlantic crossing in a few hours short of five days.

For a ship, it had a fairly interesting life--including a serious fire on board, being captured in a world war, sailing under the flags of three countries, and colliding with a sunken ship in harbor. It carried US troops at the end of WWII, experienced a complete name change, and appeared briefly in a famous movie (the original Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart).

The collision happened after it had been turned over to the French as part of reparations following the War. The Liberté, as they had renamed it, broke loose from its moorings during a storm and collided with the already sunken SS Paris. Following the collision, the Liberté itself sank. After much discussion, the French decided to raise it and repair it. I can’t even imagine bringing a sunken ship up from under water, cleaning up the resultant mess, and making it usable again. It served another eleven years as one of the largest liners in the French fleet before being scrapped in 1962.

As far as a I know, the ship only made the Atlantic crossing between Europe and America. That means my parents, with me in tow, had to get from Africa to Europe in order to board it, but I don’t remember ever hearing anything about that. In these days of electronic communications, international reservations, and things worked out with surprising precision, it’s hard to grasp how uncertain everything must have been for them.

I’m going to have to watch Sabrina again and see if I can wrap my mind around the idea that, for five short days in my life, I was in person on that ship.

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