Daily Event for September 23, 2013

On Oct. 15, 1863 Scotts in Greenock launched a 346' long sidewheel steamer of 3,071 gross tons named Lafayette for the French Line. She made her maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York on Aug. 24, 1864. She continued to sail between France and New York until 1864 when she docked at the yard of Robert Napier in Glasgow for conversion into a twin screw steamer. Following the refit, the now 375' long ship could carry 300 saloon class passengers as well as cargo.

In 1871 her master was Captain Rousseau, apparently a well respected mariner. Those who crossed in this ship spoke of the courtesy given them by him and his crew. At that time the French Line was also very concerned with fire safety in their ships. Apparently smoking by any passenger or crewman was carefully monitored. When ships were in dock smoking was prohibited completely.

Lafayette carried every type of fire fighting and prevention equipment, nevertheless at Le Havre on September 23, 1871 the ship caught fire and burned. Substantial damage was done to the ship and her cargo, but no lives were lost. The cause of the fire is not known to me and the ship was repaired. She continued on the trans-Atlantic route and was later scrapped.
© 2013 Michael W. Pocock

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