Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Queen Mary Longbeach 80th

Today, 80 years ago, on September 26, 1934 at the John Brown & Company shipyard on the banks of the Clyde River in Scotland job number 534 became one of the most famous ocean liners of the times:

I am happy to name this ship the Queen Mary. I wish success to her and to all who sail her.

The following onboard ceremony schedule has been announced for today, Friday 26, 2014

• Grand Ballroom Opens to Public – 4PM
• Welcome Remarks by Commodore Everette Hoard – 4:15PM
• Remarks by Mayor of Long Beach, Robert Garcia
• Presentation of Queen Mary Video
• Remarks by John Jenkins, Queen Mary General Manager
• Commemoration of 80th Anniversary / Announcement of Queen Mary Initiative
• Presentation of Queen Mary Cake by Baker, Jose Barajas
• Cutting of First Slice by Mayor Garcia, Jenkins and Hoard
• Concluding Remarks by John Jenkins
• Invitation to attending public to share a slice of history

An update on the celebrations will follow shortly. I am looking forward to photos taken by friends onboard, especially of the 15 ft long Queen Mary Cake.

In the light of Queen Mary’s upcoming 80th birthday in Long Beach, California, CBS News America showed a short broadcast about Queen Mary called ‘A Salute to the Queen Mary’ together with an article on their website, which you can read here as well.

Fortunately for those who do not live in the States, the film has been published on YouTube:

CBS News Article September 21, 2014

he “Salute to a Queen” was once a newsreel staple . . . the queen in question being the fabled ocean liner “Queen Mary.” Long since retired, her many voyages still deserve a salute. Tracy Smith does the honors:

September 26, 1934: launch day for the pride of the British commercial fleet.

In the depths of the Great Depression, she was a symbol of hope.

The Queen Mary set a new standard for elegance, and was a favorite among the A-List: Bob Hope, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable.

She was the last word in comfort and style, and capable of crossing the Atlantic in record time.

And at the dawn of World War II, the Mary’s speed would, in a way, become a weapon.

Historian Everette Hoard, the Queen Mary’s Honorary Commodore, said, “Her top speed is about 32.5 knots.”

Compared to a surfaced U-Boat, whose speed would be 13-14 knots, or 8 knots submerged. “The Queen Mary was even faster than the torpedoes themselves, which traveled along about 25 knots,” said Hoard.

And so the world’s largest ocean liner became the world’s largest troop ship.

Bigger than the Titanic and faster than any German submarine, the Queen Mary was just the thing the Allies needed to take American soldiers to Europe. On one trip alone, she carried more than 16,600 troops — a record that stands to this day.

Every other week, the Queen — clad in drab gray war paint — would haul an average of 15,000 American GIs to Europe.

“It was very, very cramped,” said Hoard. “The men ate in two shifts down in the Grand Salon. A ham-slicing machine worked 24 hours a day trying to keep up with the demand for ham and eggs. Eggs were boiled in 55-gallon drums, with steam jetted up from the boiler rooms.”

The passage took about seven days, after which the Queen would head back to New York, and do it all again.

The Nazis were not amused. Adolf Hitler offered $250,000 to any submarine captain who could sink her . . . but she outran them all.

“Every U-Boat commander in the German navy would like to have sunk the Queen Mary,” said Hoard.

But, he said, she was never even fired upon.

In the buildup to D-Day, the Queen Mary carried nearly half a million GIs to Great Britain, among them Army Private Arnie Boots.

Like so many GIs far from home, Boots met an English girl, and promptly married her.

June Allen was 16 when she married Boots shortly before he shipped out for D-Day.

Smith asked, “And what was it about this guy?”

“I don’t know. There was two million GIs stationed at Cheltenham during the war. And you know, you’d see so many, but there was just something about Arnie,” she replied.

She wouldn’t see him again . . . that is, not until after the war ended, and the U.S. Army started shipping around 60,000 British war brides to their new lives in America.

June and her young son came to the U.S. aboard the Queen Mary.

“I was only 18 years old, and I had never been on a ship,” she said. “And I had never seen a ship that size in my life. I got out of the bus and I looked up, up, up and up. It took my breath away! I couldn’t believe the size of it.”

And instead of the cramped quarters their husbands endured, the war brides who came over on the Mary sailed in high style.

Allen said it was “a little scary,” but also exciting for the young woman to go to a new country. “Plus, being on the greatest ship in the world. It was so thrilling.”

For June, the voyage was an absolute dream. The reunion with her husband — not so much.

“I had never seen him out of uniform, and I didn’t know him,” she told Smith. “I thought, ‘Is that him?’ I’d been married to the man almost three years, and I didn’t recognize him. I thought, ‘Is that Arnie? Or isn’t it?’ That’s what wartime does.”

They settled in Indiana, and as you might guess, life in the U.S. took some adjustment.

“He was kind of a stranger to me when I first came over here, to be honest about it,” Allen said. “We were married 37 years. And like all marriages, it has its ups and downs. We didn’t have the happiest marriage in the world. We were kind of opposites in so many ways, ’cause we never got the chance to know each other that well.”

Her late husband is now just a memory. So, too, the Golden Age of ocean liners.

By the 1960s, jet aircraft had all but replaced ships for transatlantic travel, and in 1967 — with great reluctance — the Queen Mary was taken on her final voyage by Captain John Treasure Jones.

“In the older days the only way of getting around the world was to go by sea,” Capt. Jones said at the time. “But now you hop in these damn wind machines and you can go anywhere in no time almost.”

The city of Long Beach, Calif., bought the Queen Mary for $3.5 million, and on December 9, 1967, she tied up there for good — after having crossed the Atlantic 1,001 times.

Today, the Queen Mary is a floating hotel and museum.

But, for a ship that hasn’t sailed in nearly 50 years, she still has the power to move.

When asked what the ship means to her, June Allen replied, “It’s like me, it’s gotten old. But the ship is beautiful. I’m getting old, but the ship is still beautiful!”

And to others who sailed on her (or wish they had), the Queen Mary is not so much a ship as a shrine.

“The Queen Mary, being like any small town or city — children were born on board, and people have passed away, especially during the ravages of the Second World War,” said historian Everette Hoard. “It’s truly hallowed ground, she is.”

For the past 5 years, I have been to Dubai at the end of November for the Rugby Sevens and this year was no difference. It has become a routine to check on QE2 during the stay.

QE2 was moved a couple of times, from the cruise terminal to a berth in the customs area in Port Rashid, then into dry docks from January 17 to February 3, 2013. Her present location is Berth 8 alongside the dry docks pretty much in cold lay-up.

QE2 in Berth 8 alongside the dry docks

QE2 in Berth 8 alongside the dry docks

Throughout the year the media fed news of big plans and great changes which turned cold as soon as they were published. As has been the case since her arrival in Dubai, the owners are stalling on information as to how and when QE2 will be transformed into a hotel, and where her final destination will be.

End of October, Costco was named as the ship yard that will transform her into a hotel.

The verdict on the winner of the design contest is still out and will hopefully be announced, as advised on the QE2 Heritage Hotel website, mid-December.

Dubai Drydocks World have a full order book. While I was visiting DW made an announcement that they signed a letter of intend to build a series of the world’s largest jack-up rigs between 2014 and 2016. The docks are full and there was an abundance of oil tankers, ships, rigs and platforms in and outside the docks. Such was the situation when I was visiting. Views were obstructed from every corner of the docks and security guards pretty much interfered every time I took out the camera. Luck wasn’t on my side this year as I couldn’t take a good clear shot.

Photography in the entire area is forbidden, security guards do not respond overly friendly to the sight of photo cameras or video equipment. I found a few photo spots which would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for an oil tanker that was in the way. Weather conditions were hazy which is the normal condition in Dubai.

We first drove to the Southern side where the guards spotted us and asked us to leave immediately. I thought it was wise to retreat and just snapped one blurry shot taken from the car ….

DSC_6782

The next couple of photos are taken from North Beach Road still under construction. We were the only people who clearly didn’t belong into the construction area so it was only a matter of time until security asked us to move on.DSC_6784

DSC_6789

DSC_6785

DSC_6787

Looking at the close-ups you can see that some of the staterooms are occupied by crew: Doors are open and there is laundry and security vests hanging on the balcony. There is no smoke coming out of the stack.

DSC_6791DSC_6792

I left Dubai on an early morning flight when it was still very dark. The plane made a long turn and we got a good view of the dry docks which were lit up. QE2 however was completely dark and there were no lights visible. She looked very much abandoned. I wonder if the current maintenance crew will put up a little Christmas tree, a nice gesture from the old crew in the past years. Somehow, I don’t think so.

Posts on previous visits to Dubai. Check out the photos, they show how well she looked when she was properly maintained, compared to her current state.

Dubai Visit 2009
Dubai Visit 2010
Dubai Visit 2011

QM2 HAM-001Today, 23 May 2013, Queen Mary 2 arrived in Hamburg at lunch time (13.30 CET to be precise) which was a good opportunity for me to grab some of the live webcam footage. The journey from Cuxhafen to Hamburg at the leisurely pace of approximately 10 knots is a beautiful passage along small towns, ports, greens, marinas and islands in the stream. Sailing up the River Elbe, the ship requires two tugs, one at the stern and the other at the bow.

I will talk about the passage from Cuxhaven to Hamburg in more detail in a separate post, here I am uploading 3 short video clips I grabbed from 3 webcams in Hamburg which provide a superb view of Hamburg’s port.

Webcam AET Partners
L
ocated at Van-der-Smissen-Strasse 1, Altona Cruise Center
QM2 is passing Altona Cruise Center, Altona Fish Market and Blohm & Voss Docks.

Webcam Empire Riverside Hotel
Overlooking the stretch from Blohm & Voss Dry Docks to Landungsbruecken.

Webcam St Michaelis Kirche (Church)
Distance approximately 1km, takes a few seconds to start.
The footage gives a great impression of the size of the ship compared to her environment. Museum ship Cap San Diego looks like a dwarf against the black hull of QM2.

Long Beach Rendezvous: Queen Mary meets Queen Elizabeth

Cunarders and ship lovers will gather in Long Beach, California tomorrow, 12 March 2013 for another “Cunard Royal Rendezvous”.  

Queen_Mary_Long_Beach

After Queen Mary 2 (26 Feb 2006) and Queen Victoria 3 Mar 2011), the youngest ship of the Cunard fleet, Queen Elizabeth, and the legendary Queen Mary will make history when they meet for the first time  in Long Beach Harbour.  This is a rare event which will feature traditional whistle salutes between the ships and conclude with a fireworks display. Best viewing will be at the aft of the ship. The public is invited to join the rendezvous and watch the spectacle from aboard Queen Mary.

Adding to the significance of this event, this encounter will be Queen Mary’s first encounter with a Queen Elizabeth since 1967 when Queen Mary, during her final Transatlantic Crossing in Cunard service, passed by the original Queen Elizabeth on the morning of 25 September.

The approximate schedule has been announced as follows:

  • 6.30pm: Queen Elizabeth will sail into Long Beach Harbor
  • 7.30pm: Fireworks display

More information about the event can be found on Queen Mary Hotel’s website.

DSC_3267

 

Everette Hoard, maritime historian on Queen Mary is excited about the opportunity to hold the welcome speech on board Queen Elizabeth which will be broadcasted aboard Queen Mary:

What a fantastic time this fusion of voyages past and present will be for the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Cunard. Those that witness this splendid day in history will undoubtedly carry the Queens in their hearts forever.

Everette was interviewed by KTLA5 ahead of the encounter. To watch the interview click on the photo:

safe_image

Hopefully there will be more footage following the event. Some of my friends are going to be there for the encounter
and they have been tasked to take photos and videos. For those of us who live too far away to attend, there is a Long Beach webcam for a glimpse of the two ships
.

BringQE2home

Image courtesy Marc-Antoine Bombail

In the recent weeks, new speculations about QE2’s future arose, triggered by an article in the Daily Mail about the alleged sale to a Chinese investor and the possibility of her being scrapped in China. The rumour was further fuelled by the departure of V-Ship’s crew who maintained the ship since her arrival in Dubai 4 years ago and their replacement by a smaller Chinese crew.  The Daily Mail article spread quickly as other newspapers copied the article and various ship lover online discussion boards became busy with enthusiasts bemoaning the possibility that the liner could be scrapped and saying the ship should be returned to the UK.

In a rather unusual move for Cunard, the company issued a dementi on their Facebook site whereas  Istithmar, the owner of QE2 was unavailable for comments as usual.

Cunard Facebook Post 24 December 2012:

We have noted the messages of understandable concern with regards to the recent article in the Daily Mail with reference to QE2. We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation – one of a number of stories and rumours as we have seen over recent months. Our best advice would be to ignore the story.

Best regards,

Cunard Line

In the meantime a British Consortium presented Dubai with plans to bring the QE2 to London. Apparently the bid has been rejected by the owners, however, the campaign to bring her home to the UK has gathered momentum in form of a petition to the UK Government to support the efforts to save the QE2.

If you are a UK resident and wish to support the petition, you can do so by going to the e-petition website and completing the form. The e-petition will close on 07/04/2013 at 10:15 UK time.  Click here for the e-petition. Only UK residents can sign, however, any support to spread the word is highly welcome.  Note added 12 Jan 2013: The e-petition this post was originally referring to was taken down because it didn’t meet requirements apparently. I updated this post with the link to another e-petition.

For more information on the current situation of the QE2 in Dubai and the plans for bringing her to London, I recommend the following two sites:

The QE2 Story Forum: Click here for the most recent updates and discussion on QE2 London
Maritime Matters: QE2 in London 2013

Happy Birthday to my favourite ocean liner!

QE2 on one of her rare visits in Hamburg

45 years ago, on Wednesday, September 20, 1967, QE2 was christened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at John Brown & Company, Clydebank, Scotland.

The BBC Website has a feature called ‘On this Day 1950 – 2005′ which covers major headlines during those 55 years. On September 20, 1967 the launch of the new Cunard ocean liner was front page news.  Click here for article and video clip.

Published a while ago on this blog, a documentary shown on STV Scotland abou t memories of those who attended the launch or were involved in the ship’s construction, click here to view.

45 years later, QE2 is leading a not so exciting retirement life: Since her arrival in Dubai on November 27, 2008 she’s been sitting idle in Port Rashid; however earlier this summer her Dubai owners finally announced plans to convert her into a hotel which hopefully will make her again accessible to old and new fans and inject new life into her. More details on the plans in the  Huffington Post Article July 2, 2012. I am looking forward to hear her whistle and step aboard again.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers