Ship History

  

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE                                                                                                                                                                                                                               RMS QUEEN MARY


 

The legendary RMS Queen Mary has survived to see the passing of over seven decades, witnessing a passage of time and history that has given rise to many turning points in the history of mankind. The Queen Mary has had an important part to play in the epic events of the 20th century including during the Second World War, but also in the transport of millions of passengers during her 1001 voyages across the North Atlantic. Today she survives in Long Beach, California, USA as one of the last ambassadors of what has been warmly termed the “Golden Age of the Ocean Liner” and as a witness to many epic events of the 20th century.

Design and Construction (1930 – 1936):

The British shipping industry had always been part of the elite in the world. Since the dawn of the modern age British merchant ships - and the warships - have been an example for the rest of the world to follow. With the revolutionary 19,000-tonner Great Eastern, the British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel had set the example for the future ocean liner in 1860. Not only in size, but also in speed the British a dominating influence on the North Atlantic. The White Star Line’s Teutonic and Majestic held the famous Blue Riband in the early 1890s and the Cunard Line’s Campania and Lucania took over the prize until 1897. At that time the Germans snatched the Blue Riband and kept it until the arrival of the Lusitania and Mauretania in 1907. But those German liners were not close to the Great Eastern’s size, and not until the Lusitania did the two factors - speed and size - come together in one ship. Thereafter did that combination never exist, at least not for the next 30 years.

The post-First World War period had been a time when the British operated old ships from the early 1910s. These ships were either British-built ships like the Olympic and Mauretania, or vessels seized by the British government from the defeated Germans - vessels such as Berengaria (ex-Imperator), Majestic (ex-Bismarck) and Homeric (ex-Columbus). These were all distinguished ships but as the 1920s came to an end, it was evident that the prime ships of the British merchant fleet were getting old. The prime ships in the world were now owned by the distinguished CGT French Line or the respected Norddeutscher Lloyd. The fabled luxury-liner Ile de France had been introduced in 1927, and immediately become one of the most popular passenger vessels on the North Atlantic. She had replaced the celebrated Paris who had glamorously served the French Line since 1921. The two German greyhounds Bremen and Europa came in 1929 and 1930, and with their arrival the grand old Mauretania finally lost the Blue Riband. Both the Cunard Line and the White Star Line realised that something had to be done in order to save Britain’s lost pride.

The first of the British companies to act was the White Star Line. With new enthusiastic leaders, the company ordered a vessel measuring 1,010 feet - the longest decided upon to date. The ship’s name would be Oceanic. At the same time across the English Channel the French Line gave their order to build a ship bigger still at almost 1,030 feet. The Cunard Line also wanted a part in the race and started planning a project consisting of building a 1,020-footer to rival White Star and CGT French Line. All of the three ships would have a service speed of around 30 knots.

As time would show, this was a bad time for the construction of new ‘superliners’. The White Star Line had already severe financial troubles, due to some bad investments, when they ordered the Oceanic in 1928. Vessel after vessel in the once great White Star fleet went to scrap without planned replacements. The building of the Oceanic just made things even worse for the company. In 1929 came the Great Crash on Wall Street. This affected the entire world, including the already staggering White Star Line. On July 29, 1929, they had to cancel the construction of the Oceanic. Almost the entire keel of the ship had been laid, and the steel was recycled into a smaller but otherwise similar vessels - the Britannic and Georgic.

The French Line managed to upkeep the work on their vessel because they were granted a massive loan from the French Government. This loan was given with the term that the Government would be given control of the French Line. The British watched with enviousness as the French Line’s brand new Normandie slipped into the Loire River at St. Nazaïre on October 29, 1932. It seemed that the ultra-modern Normandie would be the only of the projected three 1,000-footers to be realised.

The construction of the RMS Queen Mary represented the zenith of passenger ship building for Cunard. Plans began for a new record breaking liner to replace the RMS Mauretania as early as 1926. It was not until 1930, however, that Cunard announced that a new 1000 ft, 81,000 ton liner was to be built by John Brown & Co Ltd. The keel of the ship was laid down on 31 January 1931. The building proceeded well and the launch was scheduled for May 1932. On 11 December 1931 the Cunard Board announced that work on the ship was to be suspended. The world economic depression had hit the shipbuilding industry and Cunard were forced to pay all outstanding bills and lay off the Clydebank workforce indefinitely.

It was during 1931 that Cunard had started negotiations to buy out its main rival, the White Star Line. Although these early attempts failed Cunard entered negotiations with the Government in 1933. In December 1933 an agreement was reached whereby the two companies would merge to form Cunard White Star Ltd and the Government would lend the company £9.5 million. The majority of this sum was to be used to complete the RMS Queen Mary and build a sister ship. In April 1934 work began again on the ship. The work was completed by August and the ship was ready to be launched.

However what was the ship to be called? After many suggestions the name Queen Victoria had been decided upon. The name referred to the successful British queen of the 19th century, and this needed a royal request - a required formality. Sir Percy Bates and Sir Ashley Sparks, two men of the Cunard management, were selected to inform HM King George V of the decision. Sir Ashley put it this way: ‘Your Majesty, we are pleased to inform you that Cunard wishes your approval to name our newest and greatest liner after England’s greatest queen’. The king misunderstood the request - deliberately or not - and replied: ‘My wife will be delighted’. Cunard could do nothing; you do not correct the King in such a delicate matter. So the ship became the Queen Mary. This anecdote has been wildly criticised ever since Frank Braynard published it 1947 in his first book ‘Lives of the Liners’. However he was finally proven right in 1988 when he attended the same dinner party as Eleanor Sparkes, daughter of Sir Ashley Sparkes. She opened the conversation with her table neighbour Braynard by telling her ‘favourite ship story’. She told the exact same anecdote that Braynard had published in his book. Ever since the story has been more respected and is now acknowledged as fact.

Finally on 26 September 1934 the ship was launched by HM Queen Mary, accompanied by HM King George V. The event was witnessed by huge crowds of locals and the thousands of workers and designers that had worked on the Queen Mary.

"I thank you for your loyal address of welcome to us. As a sailor, I have deep pleasure in coming here today to watch the launch by the Queen of this great and beautiful ship. Today we come to the heavy task of sending on her way the stateliest ship now in being. I thank all those here and elsewhere whose efforts, however conspicious or humble, have helped to build her. We send her to her element with the goodwill of all the nation as a mark of our hope in the future. She is being built in fellowship among ourselves. May her life among great waters spread friendship among the nations."

Address of Welcome by His Majesty King George V at the Launch Ceremony, 26th September 1934.

Following this address by the King, HM Queen Mary swung a bottle of Australian wine against the bow, and uttered the immortal words “I name this ship the Queen Mary” and the ship started its motion towards the River Clyde. The Queen Mary was a very long ship; the longest constructed in Britain to that date. The river had had to be further dredged to receive the 1,018-feet hull and special drag chains had to be used in the launch to reduce the speed of the ship so that it didn’t hit the other side of the river.

"I am happy to name this ship the Queen Mary, I wish good luck to her and all who sail in her."

Words of Her Majesty Queen Mary at the Launch Ceremony, 26th September 1934.

Then it was taken to its fitting out berth for fitting out of the interiors and final finishing. During the fitting out, the design of the ship became more and more apparent to the world. Supposed to be a rival to the French Normandie, the Queen Mary could not compete in modernity and sleekness. She represented the British conservatism, and one could say that she was a larger replica of the 1914-built Aquitania. But in size the Queen Mary seemed to overshadow the Normandie. At 81,000 tons, the Queen exceeded the 79,280 French gross tons. But just as the British would claim to have the largest ship in the world, the French Line announced that the Normandie would be enlarged to over 83,000 tons before the Queen Mary’s maiden voyage. Thus the rivalry between the Queen Mary and Normandie started right from the conception of both these great ships. However the Queen Mary was  certainly Britain's art deco masterpiece and one of the greatest ships ever built in Britain.

The work on the Queen Mary was completed in March 1936 and the ship undertook her sea trials. Eventually the time came for the Queen Mary to leave the River Clyde and she set sail on the 24th March 1936, by which time the Normandie had already sailed on the transatlantic route for almost a year. After a brief grounding in the narrow river, the Queen Mary headed for Southampton for painting in the King George V dry dock. Finally the ship was handed over to Cunard Line on the 11th May 1936. Then the ship was honoured with a visit from the Royal Family. HM Queen Mary toured the Queen Mary with interest, and in spite of her conservative mind, she seemed to have enjoyed the tour. That evening she wrote in her diary: ‘Toured the new Queen Mary today. Not as bad as I expected’.

The Queen Mary was a modern ship, but not ultra-modern as the Normandie. If the Normandie had entered service after the Queen Mary, the Queen would possibly have been talked about as the most beautiful liner ever built - inside and out. But now it was the contrary. Every critic compared the ship with the Normandie. The British combination of traditionalism and modernity was considered too sterile by the some critics of the 1930s. But whatever said, the Queen Mary was a beautiful ship - inside and out. Her interiors had over fifty different woods, collected from all over the British Empire. Inside the Queen Mary’s staterooms, you could easily make out that you were on a ship. Previous liners had disguised their interiors to palaces and manor houses, but the Queen was not afraid of looking like a ship. Her first class restaurant was notable for the giant map of the Atlantic which was displayed. It showed the exact position of the Queen Mary during a transatlantic voyage. When Queen Elizabeth entered service after the war, you could see the position of the sister ships as well, and thereby knowing when they would meet on the Atlantic. The first class accommodations were vast with plenty of elbow room, all with a light touch of Art Deco, the new type of art introduced by the Ile de France in 1927. One beloved feature was the small and exclusive Verandah Grill, just below the main mast. The passenger accommodation emphasised the first two classes, cabin and tourist. The propulsion machinery of the ship produced a massive 160,000 SHP and gave it a speed of over 30 knots.

The Prewar Cunard Line Era (1936 – 1939):

It made an inaugural cruise from Southampton on 14 May and then made its maiden voyage, on the Southampton-Cherbourg-New York route, on 27 May. Despite expectations that the ship would try to break speed records on its first voyage a thick fog destroyed any hope of this. However the teething problems of the Queen Mary had to be remedied. At a thirty knot speed, she vibrated violently at the stern, and in bad weather she developed a nasty cork-screw motion. A third problem was that the funnels allowed smoke to cover some of the after promenade decks. The lower interiors of the ship were stiffened and the propellers redesigned. This reduced the vibration considerably, but the cork-screw motion could not be bettered - not yet at least. Smoke-washing devices were installed in the funnels, which erased the problem of soot in the passengers’ throats. As a result the RMS Queen Mary spent a short time in dry dock during July whilst adjustments were made to the propellers and turbines. When the ship returned to service, on the 31st August, she departed Southampton bound for New York and made a record voyage of three days, 23 hours and 57 minutes from Bishop's Rock to Ambrose light and took the Blue Riband from the Normandie. This was also the first time the crossing over the Atlantic had been made in fewer than four days. The ship went into dry dock in December and alterations were made to the bulkheads. The next year on March 19, the Normandie regained the title of being the fastest ship with an average crossing speed of 31.65 knots. By May 1937 the RMS Queen Mary had completed one year's service and had carried a total of 56,895 passengers. In August 1938, the Queen Mary retook the Blue Riband with a crossing time of three days, 20 hours and 40 minutes, thus regaining the Blue Riband from the Normandie. That year Queen Mary had set new records for both the eastbound and westbound crossings. The distinguished honour would remain in British hands for nearly fifteen years until the United States took the honour in 1952. The Queen Mary had proved to be the faster ship. Even though the Normandie’s hull was far more streamlined, the Queen Mary had much more powerful and efficient engines.

It was not only in speed that the Queen Mary outmatched the French ship. For some reason the passengers favoured the British ship. The Normandie seldom travelled at full capacity, whilst the passengers flocked the Queen Mary - the rich and the poor. The conservative British aristocracy chose her before the French liner - unsurprisingly, but also businessmen and ordinary tourists. They thought that the Queen Mary was more welcoming and less pretentious than the Normandie. The Normandie’s movie-star glitter and extravagance made people feel as they were ‘living in a cathedral’.

Throughout the 1930s, the Queen Mary carried the largest loads of passengers. But the war clouds once again began to loom over Europe. The Queen Mary made its last commercial voyage from Southampton on 30 August 1939 and then remained berthed at New York until the end of the year whilst it was decided what role the ship would play in the war.

The Grey Ghost: Queen Mary goes to War (1939 – 1947):

 After arriving in New York the Queen Mary lay berthed at Pier 90 in New York harbour together with the Normandie until 1940. On 7 March 1940 the newly completed RMS Queen Elizabeth arrived to join the RMS Queen Mary, RMS Mauretania and S/S Normandie at New York. For two weeks, the world’s three largest liners were berthed side by side. The Normandie remained in her peacetime colours, but the Queen Mary was repainted grey at her pier. On 21 March the RMS Queen Mary left New York under orders to sail for Cape Town and Sydney. Soon afterwards the Queen Elizabeth left as well, leaving the Normandie all alone in New York. As later events would show the rivalry between the Queen Mary and Normandie would soon end after the destruction of the Normandie during conversion to a troopship.

On arrival in Sydney work began converting the Queen Mary into a troopship. The luxury furnishings were removed and tiers of bunks and hammocks were fitted. Although small calibre guns were fitted on the ship its main protection was to be its speed. On 4 May the ship left for the Clyde with 5,000 troops of the Australian Imperial Force on board. It arrived there on 16 June and then sailed for Singapore carrying troops to bolster the defence in view of Japan's increasing threat. After an overhaul there it returned to Sydney and then made trooping voyages between there and India for the rest of the year.

The ship was drydocked again in February 1941 and then sailed between Australian ports and Singapore and Suez until November. As the Indian Ocean was becoming increasingly dangerous, with war looking imminent in the Far East and Pacific, the RMS Queen Mary sailed to Boston. Here its trooping capacity was increased to 8,500 and it was fitted with heavier calibre guns and anti-aircraft cannons. The RMS Queen Mary’s future role was to be on the North Atlantic, however one urgent trip carrying US troops to Sydney was the priority. By late July 1942 it had returned to New York. In the following months it sailed to the Clyde and Suez and then returned to the USA with a complement of German POW's. On 2 August 1942 it began making fast eastbound voyages carrying between 10,000-15,000 US troops at a time. On one of these voyages the ship had the worst collision of its career.

When it was approaching the Clyde the RMS Queen Mary required an anti-aircraft escort, amongst these was the cruiser HMS Curacoa. On 2 October the escort ships were sighted. The Queen Mary was steaming at 28 knots in zig-zag pattern whilst the Curacoa, whose best speed was 26 knots, kept as close as possible. The Queen Mary overtook its escort and then the zig-zag pattern of the two ships converged and it collided with the Curacoa close to its stern and sliced straight through the ship. Out of 430 crew members on the cruiser only 101 survived. Although there was damage beneath the waterline the Queen Mary was able to continue. With over 11,000 troops on board the Queen Mary could not stop to assist and it sailed straight to the Clyde. A long legal battle between the Admiralty and Cunard eventually laid the blame equally on both vessels.

From October to December 1942 it was being repaired at Boston and then returned to the Clyde. On 23 December it left for Cape Town, Suez and Sydney carrying British troops to the Middle East and Australian troops back home. It returned in April 1943 and then berthed in New York in May. After this it began a ferry service for US troops which was to be its role for the remainder of the war. The Queen Mary’s role in this capacity is the one for which it is best remembered. On one crossing in 1943 the Queen Mary set the present record of people on board a ship - 16,683 souls. That crossing she averaged nearly 29 knots, but had lifeboat accommodation for merely 8,000 people. The end of the war in Europe in May 1945 meant that there was an urgent need to redeploy thousands of US combat troops to the conflict in the Pacific and Far East. The Queen Mary sailed to New York to be refitted and then began the long process of repatriation. In January 1946 it began transporting GI brides to their new homes. By 3 May it transferred to Halifax to repatriate the wives and children of Canadian servicemen, which continued until September. Indeed the wartime role of the two Cunard Queens was so important that Sir Winston Churchill credited the two ships as having shortened the war by two years.

The Postwar Cunard Line Era (1947 – 1967):

On 27 September the RMS Queen Mary was handed back to Cunard. During its war service it had travelled over 600,000 miles and carried nearly 800,000 people. A ten month refit was then embarked upon at Southampton. Besides being refurnished for the commercial service a new stem and air-conditioning were fitted. The passenger accommodation was also altered to house 711 1st class, 707 cabin class and 577 tourist class passengers. It made its first sailing after this on 31 July 1947, from Southampton to New York. Before the end of 1947, however, industrial troubles started to affect the service. Air travel was becoming increasingly popular and once the ship had ran aground at Cherbourg on 1 January 1949 many of the passengers chose to fly to the USA instead. Although the ship was still capable of making fast crossings it was unable to compete with the new American liner United States, and in July 1952 the American ship took the Blue Riband with an average speed of 35.59 knots. The United States had engines designed for aircraft carriers, developing 240,000 horse power. With that power she regularly could cruise across the North Atlantic with an average speed of over 35 knots. There was no way that the Queen Mary could regain the Blue Riband. However she still remained popular with passengers as did her sister the Queen Elizabeth.

In March 1958 the ship was fitted with stabilisers by Denny-Brown. By the beginning of the next decade there was already speculation about the ship's future. In December 1963 it made its first cruise, to the Canaries. By 1965 this had become a larger part of the ship's role. A seamen's strike in May 1966 cost Cunard £4 million and spelt the end for the Queen Mary. In 1967 Cobh was added to the ship's Southampton-New York route but by now it was losing thousands of pounds a day. It made its last transatlantic crossing on 16 September 1967. There was considerable speculation regarding what the future use of the ship would be but this ended in July when Cunard agreed to sell the liner to the town of Long Beach for £1,230,000. Britain and British interests, including Southampton, did bid for the ship but sadly this was unsuccessful and she was sold to Long Beach.

Disappointing though this was for Britain and British supporters of the Queen Mary, Cunard Line have to agree to the deal that is best for their business. Thus seeing it from their perspective the sale of the Queen Mary to Long Beach in California, USA probably was inevitable. America had huge amounts of money, an available berth, resources and facilities to acquire the ship and look after her. While Britain and the British interests, despite their love for the ship, did not. This deal also gave Cunard Line a permanent advert in the United States and so from a business perspective surely helped them to retain and grow their American market. Also America has a strong fondness of all things British so maybe they wanted a bit of Britain for themselves in the form of the Queen Mary. Finally there is the obvious, the USA is immensely wealthy and could afford to purchase the ship when she was retired from service and then pay to keep her maintained as a floating hotel and tourist attraction. Disappointing I know for British fans of this British maritime icon but sadly it was inevitable, money talks and that is how business works.

Preservation in Long Beach, California, USA (1967 – Present):

The Queen Mary’s journey to Long Beach was turned into a cruise to recoup some of the costs of the voyage. It left on 31 October and called at Lisbon, Las Palmas, Rio de Janiero, Valparaiso, Callao, Balboa, Acapulco and finally at Long Beach. It arrived at Long Beach on 9 December to begin its new role as a museum, hotel and conference centre. 6th April to 18th May 1968 the ship undergoes her conversion for her new role at the Long Beach Naval Dockyard. On the 27th February 1971 the Queen Mary moves to Pier J in Long Beach – her new permanent home. On the 8th May 1971 the Queen Mary Story and Power Train Tour, and Upper Decks opened on board the ship, weekends only. On the 11th December 1971 Jacques Cousteau's "Living Sea" portion of Museum of the Sea (M.O.T.S.) open on board the Queen Mary. Eventually on the 2nd November 1972 the first 150 rooms in the hotel are opened. Since her preservation the ship has been a popular filming location. In the early 1970s she appeared in the film “The Poseidon Adventure”. On the 29th February 1974 Hyatt Corporation takes over operation of Hotel Queen Mary. On the 1st October 1976 Queen Mary Tours Inc take over operation of the Museum of the Sea. In 1979 she starred as Titanic in the film “SOS Titanic”.

On the 1st September 1980 Wrather Port Properties Ltd (subsidiary of Wrather Corporation) sign the lease to manage the Queen Mary and surrounding property. 14th May 1983 the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose flying boat is moved into a special dome alongside the Queen Mary and opens to the public as a tourist attraction. 29th March 1988 Walt Disney Company buys Wrather Corporation for $152 million. The agreement includes the Disneyland Hotel, and management of The Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property. In the Spring of 1992 the Aero Club of Southern California announces sale of Spruce Goose to Evergreen International Aviation Inc. in McMinnville, Oregon and on the 2nd October 1992 the Spruce Goose is removed from The Dome and put on barges headed to McMinnville, Oregon, having been sold to Evergreen International Aviation Inc. On the 30th September 1992 Walt Disney Company gives up lease on Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property. For the remainder of 1992, The Port of Long Beach becomes operator of property, and looks for new operator but the Queen Mary closes on the 31st December 1992. The following day the City of Long Beach resumes responsibility for the Queen Mary from the Port of Long Beach.

On the 5th February 1993 Joseph F. Prevratil, President & CEO of RMS Foundation, Inc. signs five-year lease with the city of Long Beach to act as operators of The Queen Mary. On the 26th February 1993 the Queen Mary reopens to the public and self-guided and guided "Captain's Tour" resume and most restaurants and Sunday Brunch are back. On the 5th March 1993 Hotel Queen Mary reopens with 125 rooms operational and banquet rooms are operational. 17th April 1993 Audio Tours reopen. 30th April 1993 the remainder of Hotel Queen Mary's 365 rooms reopen. On the 12th May 1993 the sad news reaches the Queen Mary that her last Captain, Captain John Treasure Jones, the 33rd and last captain of The Queen Mary had died at the age of 87 at his home in Chandler's Ford, near Southampton. 23rd June to 4th July 1993 Grand Opening ceremonies announcing Queen Mary Seaport, the new property-wide name given to the 55 acres adjoining the historic Queen Mary take place. Queen Mary Seaport includes The Queen Mary Attraction and The Hotel Queen Mary aboard the ship; The Dome at the Queen Mary, formerly home to Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose; The Queen's Marketplace, formerly London Town Village, and the surrounding property.

On the 26th September 1994 Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Launch and Naming of the great liner is held. Officiating are RMS Foundation President Joseph F. Prevratil; HRH Prince Michael of Kent representing the British Royal Family, grandson of Her Majesty Queen Mary; Scotland's Clydebank District Provost Jack McAllister and other special guests. During the summer of 1995 more celebrations take place on the Queen Mary commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II and paying tribute to the Queen Mary's service as a troopship nicknamed "The Grey Ghost." 8th May 1996 the Queen Mary celebrates 25 years preservation in Long Beach. 27th May 1996 celebrations occur marking the 60th Anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary from Southampton to New York back in 1936. 9th December 1997 the Queen Mary celebrates another milestone after reaching 30 years in Long Beach.

The Queen Mary still remains there today as a testament to the supreme achievement of the Atlantic ferry. However in recent years since 2000 there have been financial concerns about the attraction and disputes between Joseph Prevratil’s the RMS Foundation Inc. & Queen’s Seaport Development Inc. (who have leased and managed the ship and surrounding property since 1995) and the City of Long Beach and in March 2005 the Queen’s Seaport Development Inc. announced its bankruptcy. So the ship’s preservation in Long Beach has not been without its ups and downs but we hope that she can make it through this latest difficulty and continue to survive.

On the 23rd February 2006 a unique event will take place when the new RMS Queen Mary 2 meets the original Queen Mary for the first time in Long Beach at the end of her "South America Odyssey" cruise. Thus the two Queen Mary's will finally meet for the first time linking Cunard's present with its history. As the Queen Mary 2 sails past she will sound a special salutation on her whistles, which will take on an extra special meaning as one of them is an original from her namesake - the original Queen Mary!

23rd February 2006: The Meeting of the Queen Marys: The Royal Rendezvous (Long Beach, California, USA)

Website: www.thequeenmarysmeet.com

On the 27th May 2006 the Queen Mary celebrates the 70th anniversary of her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. She departed Southampton on the 27th May 1936 and arrived in New York on the 1st June 1936. To celebrate the occasion a special lecture weekend is held on board the ship in Long Beach organised by the Steamship Historical Society of America.

Happily the Queen Mary still uses her whistle on a regular basis. As the ship no longer has steam generating capabilities now, compressed air is used instead. Today the whistle is sounded daily at 10am, 12 noon, 3pm and 6pm. The original three note system is now just two notes using the forward funnel's two main whistles. The other, 3rd note, whistle that used to be on the centre funnel, spent many years in the Queen Mary's museum after she was preserved in Long Beach. But a few years ago, it was removed from the museum and sent to France on board the QE2 for installation on the new Queen Mary 2. The whistle now is on permanent loan to Cunard Line. Therefore the QM2's starboard whistle is the original Queen Mary whistle. The QM2 in fact injects a mist into the whistle blast to simulate steam! A replica of the whistle was then made for the QM2's other whistle.

On the 7th November 2007 to replace the bankrupt RMS Foundation Inc. and Queen's Seaport Development Inc. (that previously managed the ship and surrounding property since 1995), the City of Long Beach announced that they had entrusted the lease of the ship and its surrounding property to the Save the Queen investor consortium based in Long Beach. In turn they announced that the management of the Queen Mary and surrounding property had been entrusted to the Hostmark Hospitality Group.

It was stated that their first objective is to provide stability to the 550 employees of The Queen Mary and to facilitate the restoration of The Queen Mary as a world destination for the community of Long Beach. Their second objective is to facilitate the capital projects to be completed over the next eighteen months to address neglected areas of the ship that impact the guest experience or modern necessities that the staff needs to perform their roles. Improvements to The Queen Mary will include new systems for the entire operation including parking. The re-design and enhancement of guest impact areas will revitalize public space, arrival platforms, corridors and most importantly, guest rooms. Additional improvements to back-of-the-ship systems and mechanics will also assist in returning The Queen to its proper position and status. In 2007 the Queen Mary celebrated the 40th anniversary of her arrival in Long Beach. As a result the new management announced that their role in the history of this phenomenal vessel is to preserve its grandeur and identity while improving the guest experience and profitability. Their vision is to continue to develop The Queen Mary and deliver the experience that is historically synonymous with The Queen Mary as an iconic fixture in Southern California tourism, as well as to continue to build strong relationships with the community of Long Beach and the valuable employees of the ship. It was also mentioned that the new management had been approached by the National Football League to discuss the possibility of incorporating a major American football stadium as part of the regeneration of the 45 acres of prime waterfront land adjoining the Queen Mary. So it is likely that plans will be developed in due course for the regeneration of the waterfront land around the Queen Mary. Now thankfully the future looks much more secure for this venerable ocean queen.

So we wish the Queen Mary a long, prosperous and secure future with the new management (consisting of the Save the Queen investor consortium based in Long Beach and Hostmark Hospitality Group) that is now in place. We hope this will at last safeguard the long term future of the Queen Mary as a historic ship, recapture her former glory and return her to the status she deserves. 



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