RMS Queen Mary
Overview
 

RMS
Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship , usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract by Royal Mail...

 Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 (known as Cunard-White Star when the vessel entered service). Built by John Brown & Company
John Brown & Company
John Brown and Company of Clydebank was a pre-eminent Scottish marine engineering and shipbuilding firm, responsible for building many notable and world-famous ships, such as the , the , the , the , the , and the...

 in Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

, Scotland, Queen Mary along with her running mate, the , were built as part of Cunard's planned two-ship weekly express service between Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, Cherbourg, and New York City. The two ships were a British response to the superliners
Superliner (passenger ship)
A superliner is an ocean liner of over 10,000 gross tons. The term was coined in the late 19th century, when ocean liners were rapidly increasing in size and speed...

 built by German and French companies in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Encyclopedia

RMS
Royal Mail Ship
Royal Mail Ship , usually seen in its abbreviated form RMS, a designation which dates back to 1840, is the ship prefix used for seagoing vessels that carry mail under contract by Royal Mail...

 Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner
Ocean liner
An ocean liner is a ship designed to transport people from one seaport to another along regular long-distance maritime routes according to a schedule. Liners may also carry cargo or mail, and may sometimes be used for other purposes .Cargo vessels running to a schedule are sometimes referred to as...

 that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 (known as Cunard-White Star when the vessel entered service). Built by John Brown & Company
John Brown & Company
John Brown and Company of Clydebank was a pre-eminent Scottish marine engineering and shipbuilding firm, responsible for building many notable and world-famous ships, such as the , the , the , the , the , and the...

 in Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

, Scotland, Queen Mary along with her running mate, the , were built as part of Cunard's planned two-ship weekly express service between Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, Cherbourg, and New York City. The two ships were a British response to the superliners
Superliner (passenger ship)
A superliner is an ocean liner of over 10,000 gross tons. The term was coined in the late 19th century, when ocean liners were rapidly increasing in size and speed...

 built by German and French companies in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Queen Mary was the flagship of the Cunard Line from May 1936 until October 1946 when she was replaced by Queen Elizabeth. The vessel also held the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 from 1936 to 1937 and then from 1938 to 1952 when she was beaten by the new SS United States
SS United States
SS United States is a luxury passenger liner built in 1952 for the United States Lines designed to capture the trans-Atlantic speed record....

.

Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage
Maiden voyage
The maiden voyage of a ship, aircraft or other craft is the first journey made by the craft after shakedown. A number of traditions and superstitions are associated with it....

 on 27 May 1936 and captured the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 in August of that year; she lost the title to the SS Normandie
SS Normandie
SS Normandie was an ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat; she is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built.Her novel...

 in 1937 and recaptured it in 1938. With the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, she was converted into a troopship
Troopship
A troopship is a ship used to carry soldiers, either in peacetime or wartime...

 and ferried Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 soldiers for the duration of the war. Following the war, Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service and along with Queen Elizabeth commenced the two-ship transatlantic passenger service that the two ships were initially built for. The two ships dominated the transatlantic passenger transportation market until the dawn of the jet age
Jet age
The Jet Age is a period of history defined by the social change brought about by the advent of large aircraft powered by turbine engines. These aircraft are able to fly much higher, faster, and farther than older piston-powered propliners, making transcontinental and inter-continental travel...

 in the late 1950s. By the mid-1960s the ship was aging and though still among the most popular transatlantic liners, was operating at a loss.

After several years of decreased profits for Cunard Line, Queen Mary was officially retired from service in 1967. The ship left Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

 for the last time on 31 October 1967 and sailed to the port of Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

, United States, where she remains permanently moored. Much of the machinery including two of the four engines, three of the four propellers, and all of the boilers were removed, and the ship now serves as a tourist attraction featuring restaurants, a museum
Museum ship
A museum ship, or sometimes memorial ship, is a ship that has been preserved and converted into a museum open to the public, for educational or memorial purposes...

, and hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

. The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

.

Construction and naming

With Germany launching and into service, Britain did not want to be left behind in the shipbuilding race. White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

 began construction on their 60,000 ton Oceanic
Oceanic (unfinished ship)
Oceanic was the planned name of an unfinished ocean liner that was partially built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. The ship was to have been the first -long ocean liner....

 in 1928, while Cunard planned a 75,000 ton unnamed ship of their own.

Construction on the ship, then known only as "Hull Number 534", began in December 1930 on the River Clyde
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

 by the John Brown & Company Shipbuilding and Engineering shipyard
Shipyard
Shipyards and dockyards are places which repair and build ships. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance and basing activities than shipyards, which are sometimes associated more with initial...

 at Clydebank
Clydebank
Clydebank is a town in West Dunbartonshire, in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Situated on the north bank of the River Clyde, Clydebank borders Dumbarton, the town with which it was combined to form West Dunbartonshire, as well as the town of Milngavie in East Dunbartonshire, and the Yoker and...

 in Scotland. Work was halted in December 1931 due to the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and Cunard applied to the British Government for a loan to complete 534. The loan was granted, with enough money to complete Queen Mary and to build a running mate, Hull No. 552 which became Queen Elizabeth. One condition of the loan was that Cunard would merge with the White Star Line, which was Cunard's chief British rival at the time and which had already been forced by the depression to cancel construction on its Oceanic. Both lines agreed and the merger was completed on 10 May 1934. Work on Queen Mary resumed immediately and she was launched on 26 September 1934. Completion ultimately took 3½ years and cost 3½ million pounds sterling
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

. Much of the ship's interior was designed and constructed by the Bromsgrove Guild
Bromsgrove Guild
The Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts was a company of modern artists and designers associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, founded by Walter Gilbert. The guild worked in metal, wood, plaster, bronze, tapestry, glass and other mediums....

.

The ship was named after Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

, the consort of King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

. Until her launch the name she was to be given was kept a closely guarded secret. Legend has it that Cunard intended to name the ship "Victoria
Queen Victoria (ship)
Queen Victoria has been the name of several ships:* PS Queen Victoria, a wooden paddlewheel steamer that was wrecked in 1853 off Bailey Lighthouse, Howth with the loss of over 80 people...

", in keeping with company tradition of giving its ships names ending in "ia", but when company representatives asked the king's permission to name the ocean liner after Britain's "greatest queen", he said his wife, Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

, would be delighted. And so, the legend goes, the delegation had of course no other choice but to report that No. 534 would be called RMS Queen Mary. This story was denied by company officials, and traditionally the names of sovereigns have only been used for capital ships of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. Some support for the story was provided by Washington Post editor Felix Morley
Felix Morley
Felix Muskett Morley was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from the United States.-Biography:Morley was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, his father being the mathematician Frank Morley. Like his brothers, Christopher and Frank, Felix was educated at Haverford College and enjoyed a Rhodes...

, who sailed as a guest of the Cunard Line on the 1936 maiden voyage of Queen Mary. In his 1979 autobiography, For the Record, Morley wrote that he was placed at table with Sir Percy Bates
Percy Bates
Sir Percy Elly Bates, 4th Baronet, GBE was an English shipowner.Bates was born in Wavertree, Liverpool, the second son of Sir Edward Percy Bates, 2nd Baronet. He was educated at Winchester College from 1892 to 1897 and was then apprenticed to William Johnston & Co, a Liverpool shipowners...

, chairman of the Cunard Line. Bates told him the story of the naming of the ship "on condition you won't print it during my lifetime." The name Queen Mary could also have been decided upon as a compromise between Cunard and the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

, as both lines had tradition of using names either ending in "ic" with White Star and "ia" with Cunard.

Queen Mary sailed with a shock proof compass that was one of the largest magnetic compasses in the world.

History (1934–1939)

There was already a Clyde turbine steamer
Clyde steamer
The era of the Clyde steamer in Scotland began in August 1812 with the very first successful commercial steamboat service in Europe, when Henry Bell's began a passenger service on the River Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock...

 named Queen Mary, so Cunard White Star reached agreement with the owners that the existing steamer would be renamed TS Queen Mary II
TS Queen Mary
The two funnel Clyde steamer TS Queen Mary was built at the William Denny shipyard at Dumbarton for Williamson-Buchanan. The 871 gross tons steamer was powered by three direct drive steam turbines, and carried 2086 passengers making her the largest excursion turbine on the River Clyde.-In...

, and in 1934 the new liner was launched by Queen Mary as RMS Queen Mary. On her way down the slipway
Slipway
A slipway, boat slip or just a slip, is a ramp on the shore by which ships or boats can be moved to and from the water. They are used for building and repairing ships and boats. They are also used for launching and retrieving small boats on trailers and flying boats on their undercarriage. The...

, Queen Mary was slowed by eighteen drag chains, which checked the liner's progress into the Clyde
River Clyde
The River Clyde is a major river in Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland. Flowing through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire....

, a portion of which had been widened to accommodate the launch.

When she sailed on her maiden voyage from Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, England on 27 May 1936, she was commanded by Sir Edgar T. Britten, who had been the master designate for Cunard White Star whilst the ship was under construction at the John Brown shipyard. Queen Mary had a ; her rival, , which originally grossed 79,280 tonnes, had been modified the preceding winter to increase her size to (an enclosed tourist lounge was built on the aft boat deck on the area where the game court was), and therefore kept the title of the largest ocean liner. Queen Mary sailed at high speeds for most of her maiden voyage to New York until heavy fog forced a reduction of speed on the final day of the crossing.

Queen Mary design was criticized for being too traditional, especially when the Normandie hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...

 was revolutionary with a clipper shaped, streamlined bow
Bow (ship)
The bow is a nautical term that refers to the forward part of the hull of a ship or boat, the point that is most forward when the vessel is underway. Both of the adjectives fore and forward mean towards the bow...

. Except for her cruiser stern
Stern
The stern is the rear or aft-most part of a ship or boat, technically defined as the area built up over the sternpost, extending upwards from the counter rail to the taffrail. The stern lies opposite of the bow, the foremost part of a ship. Originally, the term only referred to the aft port section...

, she seemed to be an enlarged version of her Cunard predecessors from the pre World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 era. Her interior design, while mostly Art Deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

, seemed restrained and conservative when compared to the ultramodern French liner. However, Queen Mary proved to be the more popular vessel than its larger rival, in terms of passengers carried.

In August 1936, Queen Mary captured the Blue Riband
Blue Riband
The Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade given to the passenger liner crossing the Atlantic Ocean in regular service with the record highest speed. The term was borrowed from horse racing and was not widely used until after 1910. Under the unwritten rules, the record is based on average speed...

 from Normandie, with average speeds of 30.14 knots (55.82 km/h) westbound and 30.63 knots (60 km/h) eastbound. Normandie was refitted with a new set of propellers in 1937 and reclaimed the honour, but in 1938 Queen Mary took back the Blue Riband in both directions with average speeds of 30.99 knots (57.39 km/h) westbound and 31.69 knots (62.1 km/h) eastbound, records which stood until lost to in 1952.

Interior

On-board amenities on Queen Mary varied according to class, with First Class
First class travel
First class is the most luxurious class of accommodation on a train, passenger ship, airplane, or other conveyance. It is usually much more expensive than business class and economy class, and offers the best amenities.-Aviation:...

 passengers afforded with the most space and luxury. Among facilities available on board Queen Mary, the liner featured an indoor swimming pool, salon, ship's library, children's nursery, outdoor paddle tennis court, and ship's kennel. The largest room was the first class dining room (grand salon), which spanned three stories in height and was anchored by wide columns. The indoor swimming pool facility also spanned over two decks in height. She was also the first ocean liner to be equipped with its own Jewish prayer room - part of a policy to show that British shipping lines avoided the racism evident at that time in Nazi Germany. .

The first class dining room featured a large map of the transatlantic crossing, with twin tracks symbolizing the winter/spring route (further south to avoid icebergs) and the summer/autumn route. During each crossing, a motorized model of Queen Mary would indicate the vessel's progress en route.

As an alternative to the first class dining room, Queen Mary featured a separate Verandah Grill on the Sun Deck at the upper aft of the ship. The Verandah Grill was an exclusive à la carte
À la carte
À la carte is a French language loan phrase meaning "according to the menu", and used in* A reference to a menu of items priced and ordered separately, i.e. the usual operation of restaurants * To order an item from the menu on its own, e.g...

 restaurant with a capacity of approximately eighty passengers, and was converted to the Starlight Club at night. Irish writer and broadcaster Brian Cleeve
Brian Cleeve
Brian Brendon Talbot Cleeve was a prolific writer, whose published works include twenty-one novels and over a hundred short stories. He was also an award-winning broadcaster on RTÉ television. Son of an Irish father and English mother, he was born and raised in England...

 spent several months as a commis waiter
Waiter
Waiting staff, wait staff, or waitstaff are those who work at a restaurant or a bar attending customers — supplying them with food and drink as requested. Traditionally, a male waiting tables is called a "waiter" and a female a "waitress" with the gender-neutral version being a "server"...

 on the ship in 1938, after he ran away from school. Also on board was the Observation Bar, an Art Deco styled lounge, with wide ocean views.

Woods from different regions of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 were used in her public rooms and staterooms. Accommodation ranged from fully equipped, luxurious first class staterooms to modest and cramped third class cabins. Artists commissioned by Cunard in 1933 for works of art in the interior include Edward Wadsworth
Edward Wadsworth
Edward Alexander Wadsworth was an English artist, most famous for his close association with Vorticism. He painted, often in tempera, coastal views, abstracts, portraits and still-life...

 and A. Duncan Carse
A. Duncan Carse
A. Duncan Carse was an artist working in Britain, of Norwegian/Scottish parents. His two large works Birds of the Old World and Birds of the New World were selected by Cunard in 1933 to be on their new flagship liner, the Queen Mary. Documents are held in the National Archive. He illustrated the...

.

World War II

In late August 1939, Queen Mary was on a return run from New York to Southampton. The international situation led to her being escorted by the battlecruiser . She arrived safely, and set out again for New York on 1 September. By the time she arrived, the Second World War had started and she was ordered to remain in port until further notice alongside Normandie. In 1940 Queen Mary and Normandie were joined in New York by Queen Mary new running mate , fresh from her secret dash from Clydebank. The three largest liners in the world sat idle for some time until the Allied commanders decided that all three ships could be used as troopships (Normandie was destroyed by fire during her troopship conversion). Queen Mary left New York for Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

, where she, along with several other liners, was converted into a troopship to carry Australian and New Zealand soldiers to the United Kingdom.

In the conversion, her hull, superstructure and funnels were painted navy grey. As a result of her new colour and in combination with her great speed, she became known as the "Grey Ghost." To protect against magnetic mines, a degaussing coil
Degaussing
Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating an unwanted magnetic field. It is named after Carl Friedrich Gauss, an early researcher in the field of magnetism...

 was fitted around the outside of the hull. Inside, stateroom furniture and decoration were removed and replaced with triple-tiered wooden bunks (which were later replaced by standee bunks). Six miles of carpet, 220 cases of china, crystal and silver service, tapestries and paintings were removed and stored in warehouses for the duration of the war. The woodwork in the staterooms, the first-class dining room and other public areas was covered with leather. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were the largest and fastest troopships involved in the war, often carrying as many as 15,000 men in a single voyage, and often travelling out of convoy and without escort. Their high speed meant that it was difficult for U boats to catch them.

On 2 October 1942, Queen Mary accidentally sank one of her escort ships, slicing through the light cruiser off the Irish coast with a loss of 239 lives. Queen Mary was carrying thousands of American troops of the 29th Infantry Division to join the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 forces in Europe. Due to the risk of U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 attacks, Queen Mary was under orders not to stop under any circumstances and steamed onward with a fractured stem
Stem (ship)
The stem is the very most forward part of a boat or ship's bow and is an extension of the keel itself and curves up to the wale of the boat. The stem is more often found on wooden boats or ships, but not exclusively...

. Some sources claim that hours later, the convoy's lead escort returned to rescue 99 survivors from Curacoa crew of 338, including her captain John W. Boutwood. This claim is, however contradicted by the liner's then Staff Captain (and later Cunard Commodore) Harry Grattidge who records that the Mary's Captain immediately ordered the accompanying destroyers to look for survivors within moments of the Curacoa's sinking.

In December 1942, Queen Mary was carrying 16,082 American troops from New York to Great Britain, a standing record for the most passengers ever transported on one vessel. While 700 miles (1,126.5 km) from Scotland during a gale, she was suddenly hit broadside by a rogue wave that may have reached a height of 28 metres (92 ft). An account of this crossing can be found in Walter Ford Carter's book, No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love. Carter's father, Dr. Norval Carter, part of the 110th Station Hospital on board at the time, wrote that at one point Queen Mary "damned near capsized... One moment the top deck was at its usual height and then, swoom! Down, over, and forward she would pitch." It was calculated later that the ship tilted 52 degrees, and would have capsized had she rolled another 3 degrees. The incident inspired Paul Gallico
Paul Gallico
Paul William Gallico was a successful American novelist, short story and sports writer. Many of his works were adapted for motion pictures...

 to write his story, The Poseidon Adventure, which was later made into a film by the same name, using Queen Mary as a stand-in for SS Poseidon.

During the war, Queen Mary carried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 across the Atlantic for meetings with fellow Allied forces officials on several occasions, he would be listed on the passenger manifest as "Colonel Warden" and insisted that the lifeboat assigned to him be fitted with a .303 machine gun so that he could "resist capture at all costs".

After World War II

From September 1946 to July 1947, Queen Mary was refitted for passenger service, adding air conditioning and upgrading her berth configuration to 711 first class
First class travel
First class is the most luxurious class of accommodation on a train, passenger ship, airplane, or other conveyance. It is usually much more expensive than business class and economy class, and offers the best amenities.-Aviation:...

, 707 cabin class and 577 tourist class passengers. Following refit, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth dominated the transatlantic passenger trade as Cunard White Star's two ship weekly express service through the latter half of the 1940s and well into the 1950s. They proved highly profitable for Cunard, but in 1958 the first transatlantic flight by a jet began a completely new era of competition for the Cunard
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

 Queens. On some voyages, winters especially, Queen Mary sailed into harbour with more crew than passengers, though both the Mary and it's running mate Queen Elizabeth still averaged over 1000 passengers per crossing into the middle 1960s.

By 1965, the entire Cunard fleet was operating at a loss. Hoping to continue financing their still under construction , Cunard mortgaged the majority of the fleet. Finally, under a combination of age, lack of public interest, inefficiency in a new market, and the damaging after effects of the national seamen's strike, Cunard announced that both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth would be retired from service and were to be sold off. Many offers were submitted, and Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

 beat the Japanese scrap merchants. Queen Mary was retired from service in 1967, while the Mary's running mate Queen Elizabeth was withdrawn in 1968. RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 took over the transatlantic route in 1969.

Queen Mary in Long Beach

After her retirement in 1967, she steamed to Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California
Long Beach is a city situated in Los Angeles County in Southern California, on the Pacific coast of the United States. The city is the 36th-largest city in the nation and the seventh-largest in California. As of 2010, its population was 462,257...

, where she is permanently moored as a tourist attraction
Tourist attraction
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities....

, hotel
Hotel
A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging on a short-term basis. The provision of basic accommodation, in times past, consisting only of a room with a bed, a cupboard, a small table and a washstand has largely been replaced by rooms with modern facilities, including en-suite bathrooms...

, museum
Museum ship
A museum ship, or sometimes memorial ship, is a ship that has been preserved and converted into a museum open to the public, for educational or memorial purposes...

, and event facility. From 1983 to 1993, Queen Mary was accompanied by Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose
Hughes H-4 Hercules
The Hughes H-4 Hercules is a prototype heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft company. The aircraft made its only flight on November 2, 1947 and the project was never advanced beyond the single example produced...

, which was located in a large dome nearby (the dome is now used by Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines is a British-American owned cruise line, based in Doral, Florida, a suburb of Miami in the United States. Originally an independent company founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, the company is now one of eleven cruise ship brands owned and operated by Carnival Corporation & plc...

 as a ship terminal, and formerly as a soundstage).

Since drilling had started for oil in Long Beach Harbor, some of the revenue had been set aside in the "Tidelands Oil Fund." Some of this money was allocated in 1958 for the future purchase of a maritime museum for Long Beach.

Conversion

When Queen Mary was bought by Long Beach, they decided not to preserve her as an ocean liner. It had been decided to clear almost every area of the ship below C deck (called R deck after 1950; to lessen passenger confusion all the restaurants were on "R" deck) to make way for the museum. This would increase museum space to 400000 square feet (37,161.2 m²). It required removal of all the boiler rooms, the forward engine room, both turbo generator rooms, the ship stabilisers and the water softening plant. The ship's now empty fuel tanks were then filled with local mud which would keep the ship's centre of gravity and draft at the correct levels, as these critical factors had been affected by the removal of all various components and structure. Only the aft engine room and "shaft alley", at the stern of the ship, would be spared. Remaining space would be used for storage or office space. One problem that arose during the conversion was a dispute between land-based and maritime unions over conversion jobs. The United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 had final say; Queen Mary was deemed a building, since most of her propellers had been removed and her machinery gutted. The ship was also repainted with its red water level paint at a slightly higher level than previously. During the conversion, the funnels were removed as it was the only practical way to lift out the scrap materials from the engine and boiler rooms. It was subsequently found that the funnels were held together with over thirty coats of paint, and they had to be replaced with replicas.

With all of the lower decks nearly gutted from R deck and down, Diners Club
Diners Club
Diners Club International, founded as Diners Club, is a charge card company formed in 1950 by Frank X. McNamara, Ralph Schneider and Matty Simmons...

, the initial lessee of the ship, was to convert the remainder of the vessel into a hotel. Diners Club Queen Mary dissolved and vacated the ship in 1970 after their parent company, Diners Club International was sold, and a change in corporate direction was mandated amidst the conversion process. Specialty Restaurants, a Los Angeles-based company that focused on theme based restaurants, took over as master lessee the following year.

During this conversion, the plan was to convert most of her first and second class cabins on A and B decks only into hotel rooms, and convert the main lounges and dining rooms into banquet spaces. On Promenade Deck, the starboard promenade deck would be enclosed to feature an upscale restaurant and cafe called Lord Nelson's and Lady Hamilton's themed like early 19th century sailing ships. The famed and elegant Observation Bar was redecorated as a western themed bar.

The smaller first class public rooms such as the Drawing Room, Library, Lecture Room and the Music studio would be stripped of most of their fittings and converted over to retail space, heavily expanding the retail presence on the ship. Two more shopping malls were built on the Sun Deck in separate spaces previously used for first class cabins and engineer's quarters.

A post war feature of the ship, the first class cinema, was removed for kitchen space for the new Promenade deck dining venues. The first class lounge and smoking room were reconfigured and converted into banquet space, while the second class smoking room was subdivided into a wedding chapel and office space. On Sun Deck, the elegant Verandah Grill would be gutted and converted into a fast food eatery, while a new upscale dining venue was created directly above it on Sports Deck in space once used for crew quarters. The second class lounges were expanded to the sides of the ship and used for banqueting. On R deck, the first class dining room was reconfigured and subdivided into two banquet venues, the Royal Salon and the Windsor Room. The second class dining room was subdivided into kitchen storage and a crew mess hall, while the third class dining room was initially used as storage and crew space. Also on R deck, the first class Turkish bath complex, the 1930s equivalent to a spa, was removed. The second class pool was removed and its space initially used for office space, while the first class swimming pool was used for hotel guests. Combined with modern safety codes and the structural soundness of the area directly below, the swimming pool is no longer in use. No crew cabins remain intact aboard the ship today.

Queen Mary as a tourist attraction

On 8 May 1971, Queen Mary opened its doors to tourists. Initially, only portions of the ship were open to the public as Specialty Restaurants had yet to open its dining venues or the hotel. As a result, the ship was only open on weekends. In December 1971, Jacques Cousteau's Museum of the Sea opened, with only a quarter of the planned exhibits built. Within the decade, Cousteau's museum closed due to low ticket sales and the deaths of many of the fish that were housed in the museum. In November 1972, the hotel opened its initial 150 guest rooms. Hyatt
Hyatt
Hyatt Hotels Corporation , is an international operator of hotels.Hyatt Center is the headquarters for Hyatt corporation...

 operated the hotel from 1974 to 1980, when the Jack Wrather Corporation signed a 66-year lease with the city of Long Beach to operate the entire property. Wrather was taken over by the Walt Disney Company in 1988, Wrather owned the Disneyland Hotel
Disneyland Hotel (California)
The Disneyland Hotel is a resort hotel located at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, owned by the Walt Disney Company and operated through its Parks and Resorts division. Opened in October 1955 as a motor inn owned and operated by Jack Wrather under an agreement with Walt Disney, the...

, which Disney had been trying to buy for 30 years; Queen Mary was thus an afterthought and was never marketed as a Disney property. The Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

 movie Blood Work
Blood Work
Blood Work is a 2002 American mystery suspense thriller film produced, directed by, and starring Clint Eastwood. The film co-stars Jeff Daniels, Wanda De Jesús, and Anjelica Huston. It is based off the novel of the same name by Michael Connelly....

 was filmed opposite the ship, and can be seen in the background in one scene.

Through the late eighties and early nineties, Queen Mary continued to struggle financially. During the Disney years, Disney planned to develop a theme park on the remaining land. This theme park eventually opened a decade later in Japan as DisneySea
Tokyo DisneySea
is a 176-acre theme park at the Tokyo Disney Resort located in Urayasu, Chiba, Japan, just outside Tokyo. It opened on September 4, 2001. It is owned by The Oriental Land Company, which licenses the theme from The Walt Disney Company. Tokyo DisneySea attracted an estimated 12 million visitors in...

, with a recreated ocean liner resembling Queen Mary as its centrepiece. Hotel Queen Mary closed in 1992 when Disney gave up the lease on the ship to focus on what would become Disney's California Adventure
Disney's California Adventure
Disney California Adventure, or simply California Adventure, is a theme park in Anaheim, California, adjacent to Disneyland Park and part of the larger Disneyland Resort. It opened on February 8, 2001 as Disney's California Adventure Park. The park is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Parks and...

. The tourist attraction remained open for another two months, but by the end of 1992, Queen Mary completely closed its doors to tourists and visitors.

In February 1993, under the direction of President and C.E.O. Joseph F. Prevratil, RMS Foundation, Inc began a five-year lease with the city of Long Beach to act as the operators of the property. Later that month, the tourist attraction reopened completely, while the hotel reopened in March. In 1995, RMS's lease was extended to twenty years while the extent of the lease was reduced to simply operation of the ship itself. A new company, Queen's Seaport Development, Inc. (QSDI) came into existence in 1995 controlling the real estate adjacent to the vessel. In 1998, the City of Long Beach extended the QSDI lease to 66 years.
In 2005, QSDI sought Chapter 11 protection due to a rent credit dispute with the City. In 2006, the bankruptcy court requested bids from parties interested in taking over the lease from QSDI. The minimum required opening bid was $41M. The operation of the ship, by RMS, remained independent of the bankruptcy. In Summer 2007, Queen Mary lease was sold to a group named "Save the Queen" managed by Hostmark Hospitality Group, who planned to develop the land adjacent to Queen Mary, and upgrade, renovate, and restore the ship. During the time of their management, staterooms were updated with iPod
IPod
iPod is a line of portable media players created and marketed by Apple Inc. The product line-up currently consists of the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the compact iPod Nano, and the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle...

 docking stations and flatscreen TVs and the ship's three funnels as well as the waterline area were repainted their original Cunard Red color. The portside Promenade Deck's planking was restored and refinished. Many lifeboats were repaired and patched, and the ship's kitchens were renovated with new equipment.

In 2004, Queen Mary and Stargazer Productions added Tibbies Great American Cabaret to the space previously occupied by the ship's bank and wireless telegraph room. Stargazer Productions and Queen Mary transformed the space into a working dinner theater complete with stage, lights, sound, and scullery.

In late September 2009, management of Queen Mary was taken over by Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies is a global food service and hospitality company headquartered in Buffalo, New York The company operates in the lodging, sporting, airport, gaming and entertainment industries. The company employs over 50,000 people worldwide and has over $2 billion in annual revenues...

, who plan to continue restoration, and renovation of the ship and its property, and work to revitalize and enhance the ship.

In April 2011, The City Of Long Beach was informed that Delaware North was no longer managing the Queen Mary. Garrison Investment Group(the current owner of the Queen Mary) said this decision was purely business. Delaware North still manages the Scorpion
Soviet submarine B-427
B-427 was a Project 641 diesel-electric attack submarine of the Soviet Navy. The "B" in her designation stands for большая . Foxtrots are among the largest non-nuclear submarines ever built. Commissioned in 1971, the submarine operated with the Russian Pacific Fleet until decommissioning in 1994...

, a Soviet submarine that has been a separate attraction next to the Queen Mary for the last decade.

Evolution Hospitality, LLC. assumed operational control of the Queen Mary on 23 September 2011, with Garrison Investments leasing the Queen Mary.

Meeting of the Queens

On 23 February 2006, saluted her predecessor as she made her port of call in Los Angeles Harbor
Port of Los Angeles
The Port of Los Angeles, also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT L.A, is a port complex that occupies of land and water along of waterfront. The port is located on San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood of Los Angeles, approximately south of downtown...

, while on a cruise to Mexico.

Ship's horn

The salute was carried out with Queen Mary replying with her one working air horn in response to Queen Mary 2 sounding her combination of two brand new horns and an original 1934 Queen Mary horn (on loan from the City of Long Beach). Queen Mary originally had three whistles tuned to 55 Hz, a frequency chosen because it was low enough that the extremely loud sound of it would not be painful to human ears. Modern IMO
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

 regulations specify ships' horn frequencies to be in the range 70–200 Hz for vessels that are over 200 metres (656.2 ft) in length. Traditionally, the lower the frequency, the larger the ship. Queen Mary 2, being 345 metres (1,131.9 ft) long, was given the lowest possible frequency (70 Hz) for her regulation whistles, in addition to the refurbished 55 Hz whistle on permanent loan. 55 Hz is the lower bass "A" note found an octave up from the lowest note of a piano keyboard. The air-driven Tyfon whistle can be heard at least ten miles (16 km) away.

W6RO

Queen Marys original, professionally manned wireless radio room was removed once the ship arrived in Long Beach. In its place, an amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 room was created one deck above the original radio reception room with some of the discarded original radio equipment used for display purposes. The amateur radio station with the call sign W6RO ("Whiskey Six Romeo Oscar") relies on volunteers from a local amateur radio club. They are present most of the time the ship is open to the public, and the radios can also be used by other licensed amateur radio operators.

In honor of his over forty years of dedication to W6RO and Queen Mary, in November 2007 the Queen Mary Wireless Room was renamed The Nate Brightman Radio Room. This was announced on 28 October 2007, at Mr. Brightman's 90th birthday party by Joseph Prevratil, President and CEO of Queen Mary.

Paranormal

Ghosts were reported on board after the ship was permanently docked in California. Many areas are rumoured to be haunted. Reports of hearing children crying in the nursery room, used as the third-class playroom, and a mysterious splash noise in the drained first-class swimming pool are cited. In 1966, 18-year-old engineer John Pedder was crushed by a watertight door in the engine room during a fire drill, and his ghost is said to haunt the ship. One of the most haunted spots of the ship is Cabin B340, which is no longer let out due to the extreme paranormal activity, believed to be the result of the murder of an 8 year old girl. There is also said to be the spirit of a young girl named Jackie Korin who drowned in the second class pool and continues to haunt the first class pool room on board the ship. A young woman by the name of Sarah was said to have been murdered in the first class women's change rooms by an unknown man and haunts the first class pool with Jackie. Some visitors say they have seen women wearing early 1930s bathing suits in the pool areas. It is also said that men screaming and the sound of metal crushing against metal can be heard below decks at the extreme front end of the bow. Those who have heard this believe it to be the screams of the sailors aboard HMS Curacoa (D41)
HMS Curacoa (D41)
HMS Curacoa, named after the island Curaçao in the Caribbean Sea, was a Ceres group C-class light cruiser. In 1942, she became one of the Royal Navy's major accidental losses during the Second World War.-First World War:...

 at the moment the light cruiser was split in half by the liner.

See also

  • MS Queen Elizabeth
    MS Queen Elizabeth
    MS Queen Elizabeth is a Signature class cruise ship operated by Cunard Line. She is the second largest ship to be built by Cunard, exceeded only by the QM2 and she is running mate to the Queen Victoria, and the Queen Mary 2...

  • MS Queen Victoria
    MS Queen Victoria
    MS Queen Victoria is a cruise ship in the Cunard Line fleet, named after Queen Victoria.Queen Victoria is the running mate to Queen Mary 2, and the new Queen Elizabeth. Until November 2008, she also operated alongside Queen Elizabeth 2...



Further reading

  • The Cunard White Star Quadruple-screw North Atlantic Liner, Queen Mary. – Bonanza Books, 289 p., 1979. – ISBN 0517279290. Largely a reprint of a special edition of "The Shipbuilder and Marine Engine-builder" from 1936.
  • Duncan, William J., RMS Queen Mary: Queen of the Queens, Anderson, South Carolina: Droke House, distr. Grosset & Dunlap, 1969, ISBN 9780837567464.
  • Cunard Line, Ltd., John Brown and Company archives.
  • Clydebank Central Library Clydebank, Scotland.
  • Roberts, Andrew, Masters and Commanders: How four titans won the war in the West, 1941–1945, Harper Collins e-Books, London
  • Grattidge, Harry, Captain of the Queens, Dutton, New York

External links



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