The South America route did not lack competition: In France there was still the Chargeurs Reunis (later taken over by Messageries Maritimes), who sailed from the Atlantic coast of France (Le Havre and Bordeaux). From the French Mediterranean coast only SGTM offered the South America connection. More important was the competition of Italian shipping companies. First of all the state-run Italia S.A.N. It resumed service on this route after the war in 1949 with two larger and faster units of the CONTE GRANDE class, built in the 20's. At the time, when the PROVENCE was launched, these were joined by two even faster units of the GIULIO CESARE class, which can be spoken of as real giants by the standards of the day. In addition, Argentina did not want to leave the business in the hands of European lines alone. The national Argentine F.A.N.U. - shipping company operated two ships on the Buenos Aires line. Besides, the private shipping company Costa had already appeared on the scene, which aimed particularly at emigrants with the small vessels ANNA C. and ANDREA C. But there was another menace to the River Plate service: The economic depression in post-war South America. But fortunately, the emigrant trade was confided according fix quotas to the lines of those nations, who financed the Comité Intergouvernemental pour les Migrations Europeénnes.
In the following years the emigrant ship PROVENCE contributed to the fact, that Argentina was futher considered the country most resembling Europe among the South America countries, until a severe accident on 17 September 1954 . The Liberian tanker SAXONSEA rammed the PROVENCE in the River Plate, on her northbound voyage from Buenos Aires. The PROVENCE´s bow was damaged very heavily, but fortunately the collision did not claim human lives. PROVENCE was brought to Buenos Aires, and due to its solid construction SGTM decided to provisionally repair the ship to allow her to return to Marseille for the final repair. The extent of the damage can be estimated, when you bear in mind that, despite being repaired in Buenos Aires only superficially, she arrived at Marseille as late as new year’s day 1955. The now beginning repairs again took almost three months, so that the ship could not end its involuntary inactivity until 26 March 1955, when she set out for the first journey after the accident.
During this long time the sister ship BRETAGNE
held up the flag of the SGTM on the South America service. By the way, the
funnel color of the SGTM was black with a broad red ribbon in the middle.
On the red ribbon the ensign of the shipping company was painted in the
colors blue, white and red (probably an allusion to the French national
colors) with an anchor in the center. While in the fall of 1956 other French
ships were seized by the French navy to serve in the invasion of Suez, the
PROVENCE seems to have carried on with her usual occupation. In 1957
additional 38 beds in the tourist class became
available on the PROVENCE. In the following time however the state of business
for SGTM on the South America route worsened. The Spanish Ybarra line put
2 new liners into service on the route Genoa –Buenos Aires, which were about
as large as the SGTM liners. Beyond that the Genoese Costa shipping company
had expanded its fleet on the route to 3 ships and now, with the FEDERICO
C, put a clearly larger ship into service, which set new standards. The
mentioned competitors could accommodate all passengers in their own cabins
and were faster than the SGTM liners, too. Besides, the prospects for business
traveler-customers worsened due to the arrival of jet-propelled airplanes,
which by that time were in the process of taking over the customers from
the liners on the North Atlantic. Already in 1946 the Spanish Iberia airline
had opened the first regular connection to Buenos Aires. Last but not least,
Italian emigration to some extend became diverted to Northern Europe countries