End in sight for cruise ship Norway

June 6, 2006
Author: P&S

A final end by scrapping now appears inevitable for the former SS Norway, once the pride of the French merchant marine in the days when she sailed the Atlantic as the SS France, but now relegated to the meaningless name ‘Blue Lady.’

The vessel has been laying up in Malaysian waters for some time since being towed round the Cape from Europe, her previous operator Norwegian Cruise Line’s (Star Cruise Lines) hopes of seeing the once glorious ship continuing in cruise service dashed by a fatal boiler explosion in Miami harbour.

Even after being towed to South East Asia ship lovers hoped the ship would somehow miraculously be saved, but it was not to be. The ship’s last months have been spent in uncertainty as first one country in South East Asia then another denied her access to the cutting beaches on account of the more than a thousand tonnes of asbestos cladding believed to have been used when she was built.

SS Norway was towed round the Cape of Good Hope in 2005 en route to what was then hoped would be a new career as a cruise ship operating in South East Asian waters. The reality was that this was probably never a possibility – today, barely a year after this photograph was taken, the ship is no longer one of the world’s grandest passenger liners but a sad rusting relic. This picture was taken by Ian Shiffman off Cape Town harbour on 1 July 2005

Now comes news that India’s Supreme Court has granted permission to the owners of Blue Lady have the rusting vessel towed to Alang in Gujarat province where she will go to anchor once more, pending inspection before a final decision on whether she may go under the cutters torches and cables.

The Indian government’s solicitor general has provided the court with assurances that all safety norms regarding pollution will be adhered to. He pointed out that a proper inspection of the ship’s safety aspects could not in any case be conducted unless the ship was brought inshore.

Activists who have fought against allowing the ship to approach India or Bangladesh’s coastline consider the latest development as an indication that the ship will now be scrapped at Alang. They will no doubt continue their efforts to prevent this from happening however.

They continue to point out that the Blue Lady, aka SS Norway contains more than twice the official mount of asbestos than the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau, which was turned away by a panel of Indian judges before the French government decided it had suffered enough embarrassment and ordered the ship towed back to France.


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