“The interiors were graced with statues, mirrors, tapestries, gilding and various portraits of the Imperial family. The interiors of her sister ships were also placed in the hands of Poppe. The first class salon was noted for its tapestries and its blue seating. The smoking room, a traditionally male preserve, was made to look like a typical German inn. The dining room, capable of holding all passengers in one sitting, rose several decks and was crowned with a dome. The room also had columns and had its chairs fixed to the deck, a typical feature of ocean liners of the era.”
Bay of Nouadhibou Ship Graveyard - Nouadhibou, Mauritania
The view off the coast of Mauritania’s Bay of Nouadhibou is spotted with rusting hulks in every direction, ships that were cheaper to illegally abandon in the harbor than to correctly dismantle.
The city of Nouadhibou is the largest settlement in Mauritania, but due to the large population, it is also one of the poorest. This economic hardship, as it often does, led to widespread corruption in the local government. Dismantling large boats is a costly procedure, and many unscrupulous owners found that for a comparatively small bribe they could simply abandon their unwanted sea hulks in Nouadhibou’s bay. Ships were brought from all over the world to be left in the shallow waters with a particular boom during the 1980’s. Fishing trawlers, cargo vessels, and naval cruisers are just some of the varied types of boats among the over 300 rusting ships that have accumulated over the years like coral.
Despite the environmental concerns of toxic oils, paints, and rust seeping into the waters of the bay, the rotting ships have produced a few surprising benefits. In addition to a continuing salvage industry that has sprung up around the wrecks, their deteriorating hulls have actually provided new habitats for fish and undersea life, giving the city’s vital fishing industry a much-needed shot in the arm.