Messageries Maritimes

The Last Ocean Liners

 

Messageries Maritimes After World War II the largest passenger fleet under the French flag was operated by Messageries Maritimes, sailing from the great Mediterranean port of Marseille. The company built nine combination passenger and cargo ocean liners in the early 1950s for routes to areas of commercial and cultural interest for the French.

Messageries Maritimes Four of the ocean liners traded to exotic sounding east African ports in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, the Comoros Islands and Reunion, turning around in Mauritius. The comfortable vessels on this service were the identical La Bourdonnais, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Pierre Loti and Jean Laborde. The ports varied from voyage to voyage, but each one-way trip took almost one month.

Messageries Maritimes Three fast white ships were completed for Messageries Maritimes on the Indo-China and Far East service, the Cambodge, Laos and Viet-Nam. Their month long voyages called at Port Said, Aden (or Djibouti), Bombay, Colombo, Singapore, Saigon, Hong Kong, Kobe (eastbound) and Yokohama.

Messageries Maritimes First class accommodations were quite sumptuous, with a lovely drawing room, smoking room, bar, card room, writing room, swimming pool and dining room. Even ahead of the times, 34 First class staterooms featured a private veranda. Tourist class had a small lounge and dining room. Third class were accommodated mainly in simple dormitories forward, while a cafeteria served as the lounge between meals.

The trio carried French manufactured goods in their cargo holds on the outward journey, and returned with the mass production of Japan and Hong Kong.

Messageries Maritimes The handsome Messageries Martimes combination liners Caledonien and Tahitien were designed to transport cargo, passengers and military personnel to French islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The long voyage from Marseille called at Madeira, Guadeloupe (or Martinique), Curacao, Panama, the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and turning around in Sydney. It was one of the longest of all line voyages, taking nearly two months each way.

After the Suez Canal closed and war was raging in Southeast Asia, Viet-Nam was renamed Pacifique and switched to the South Pacific service in 1967.

Competition from the airlines, and as well from the new generation of container ships, eventually led to the withdrawal of all of these important ocean liners.

Continued below...



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La Bourdonnais - 1953 - Messageries Maritimes
La Bourdonnais Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1953 by Arsenal de Lorient, Lorient, France Gross tons: 10944 Length: 492ft (150m) Width: 64ft (20m) Depth: 24ft (7m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12500 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 88 First 112 Tourist 299 Third End of service: Sold 1968
 

Ferdinand de Lesseps - 1952 - Messageries Maritimes
Ferdinand de Lesseps Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1952 by Chantiers de la Gironde, Bordeaux, France Gross tons: 10881 Length: 492ft (150m) Width: 64ft (20m) Depth: 24ft (7m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12500 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 88 First 112 Tourist 296 Third End of service: Sold 1968
 

Pierre Loti - 1953 - Messageries Maritimes
Pierre Loti Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1953 by Arsenal de Brest, Brest, France Gross tons: 10945 Length: 492ft (150m) Width: 64ft (20m) Depth: 24ft (7m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12500 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 89 First 112 Tourist 299 Third End of service: Sold 1970
 

Jean Laborde - 1953 - Messageries Maritimes
Jean Laborde Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1953 by Chantiers de la Gironde, Bordeaux, France Gross tons: 10909 Length: 492ft (150m) Width: 64ft (20m) Depth: 24ft (7m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12500 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 89 First 112 Tourist 299 Third End of service: Sold 1970
 

Cambodge - 1953 - Messageries Maritimes
Cambodge Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1953 by Ateliers et Chantiers, Dunkirk, France Gross tons: 13217 Length: 532ft (162m) Width: 72ft (22m) Depth: 26ft (8m) Speed: 21kn Power: 24000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 117 First 110 Tourist 314 Third End of service: Sold 1969
 

Laos - 1954 - Messageries Maritimes
Laos Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1954 by Chantiers Nav de la Ciotat, France Gross tons: 13212 Length: 532ft (162m) Width: 72ft (22m) Depth: 26ft (8m) Speed: 21kn Power: 24000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 117 First 110 Tourist 312 Third End of service: Sold 1970
 

Viet-Nam - 1952 - Messageries Maritimes
Viet-Nam Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1952 by Chantiers Nav de la Ciotat, France Gross tons: 13162 Length: 532ft (162m) Width: 72ft (22m) Depth: 26ft (8m) Speed: 21kn Power: 24000 shp Propulsion: Steam turbines twin screw Passengers: 117 First 110 Tourist 312 Third End of service: Rerouted 1967; sold 1970
 

Caledonien - 1952 - Messageries Maritimes
Caledonien Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1952 by Ateliers et Chantiers, Dunkirk, France Gross tons: 12712 Length: 548ft (167m) Width: 67ft (20m) Depth: 25ft (8m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12000 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 71 First 84 Tourist 208 Third End of service: Sold 1972
 

Tahitien - 1953 - Messageries Maritimes
Tahitien Messageries Maritimes
Built: 1953 by Arsenal de Brest, Brest, France Gross tons: 12614 Length: 548ft (167m) Width: 67ft (20m) Depth: 25ft (8m) Speed: 17kn Power: 12000 bhp Propulsion: Diesel twin screw Passengers: 74 First 84 Tourist 208 Third End of service: Sold 1972