Europa was built for Norddeutscher Lloyd by Blohm & Voss of Hamburg. She
was launched in 1928. Her delivery was delayed for ten months by a fire
which severely damaged the ship during her fitting out. As a result,
her maiden voyage, from Bremerhaven to New York, didn't take place until
19 March 1930, more than a year and a half after her launch. Despite
poor weather conditions, Europa won the westbound Blue Riband on that
maiden trip. She set another westbound record in 1933, but a month
later lost the record to the Italian liner Rex. (Curiously, although
Europa never set an eastbound record, her sister Bremen did, making
record passages in 1929 and 1933.)
Europa was at Bremen, having just returned from New York, on 1 September
1939, when World War II began. During the war she served as a naval
accommodation ship at Bremerhaven. In 1940, plans were developed to
convert her into a transport for invading England and in 1941, she was
designated for conversion into an aircraft carrier, but neither of these
conversions was ever carried out. She was seized by the United States
in May 1945 and used as a Navy transport until she was handed over to
France in 1946.
She was turned over to Compagnie Generale Transatlantique, the
French Line, and renamed Liberté. In December 1946, while laid up
pending refitting, Liberté broke loose during a storm, struck the
wreck of CGT's Paris,
and was scuttled to avoid capsizing. She was raised in 1947 and rebuilt
by Ateliers et Chantiers de St. Nazaire. In an eerie repetition of her
own history, she caught fire during this rebuilding and much of the
newly-installed passenger accommodations were badly damaged.
Liberté finally entered French Line service on 17 August 1950, on the Le
Havre-New York route. She made her final voyage in November 1961, and
was scrapped the next year.
Sources: Haws' Merchant Fleets; Kludas' Great Passenger Ships of the
World; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway.