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Thu May 2, 2019, 05:49 AM

50 Years Ago Today; The Queen Elizabeth 2 sets off on her Maiden Voyage


Last visit to the River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland, near to where she was constructed, 2008

Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as QE2, is a floating hotel and retired ocean liner built for the Cunard Line which was operated by Cunard as both a transatlantic liner and a cruise ship from 1969 to 2008. Since 18 April 2018, she has been operating as a floating hotel in Dubai.

QE2 was designed for the transatlantic service from her home port of Southampton, UK to New York, and she was named after the earlier Cunard liner RMS Queen Elizabeth. She served as the flagship of the line from 1969 until succeeded by RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004. QE2 was designed in Cunard's offices in Liverpool and Southampton and built in Clydebank, Scotland. She was considered the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners until Queen Mary 2 entered service.

QE2 was also the last oil-fired passenger steamship to cross the Atlantic in scheduled liner service until she was refitted with a modern diesel powerplant in 1986-87. She undertook regular world cruises during almost 40 years of service, and later operated predominantly as a cruise ship, sailing out of Southampton, England. QE2 had no running mate and never ran a year-round weekly transatlantic express service to New York. She did, however, continue the Cunard tradition of regular scheduled transatlantic crossings every year of her service life. QE2 was never given a Royal Mail Ship designation, instead carrying the SS and later MV or MS prefixes in official documents.

QE2 was retired from active Cunard service on 27 November 2008. She had been acquired by the private equity arm of Dubai World, which planned to begin conversion of the vessel to a 500-room floating hotel moored at the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai. The 2008 financial crisis intervened, however, and the ship was laid up at Dubai Drydocks and later Port Rashid. Subsequent conversion plans were announced by in 2012 and by the Oceanic Group in 2013[9] but these both stalled. In November, 2015 Cruise Arabia & Africa quoted DP World chairman Ahmed Sultan Bin Sulayem as saying that QE2 would not be scrapped[10] and a Dubai-based construction company announced in March, 2017 that it had been contracted to refurbish the ship. The restored QE2 opened to visitors on 18 April 2018, with a soft opening. The grand opening was set for October 2018.


Early career
Queen Elizabeth 2's maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York, commenced on 2 May 1969, taking 4 days, 16 hours, and 35 minutes.

In 1971, she participated in the rescue of some 500 passengers from the burning French Line ship Antilles. On 5 March 1971 she was disabled for four hours when jellyfish were sucked into and blocked her seawater intakes.

On 17 May 1972, while travelling from New York to Southampton, she was the subject of a bomb threat.[18] She was searched by her crew, and a combined Special Air Service and Special Boat Service team which parachuted into the sea to conduct a search of the ship. No bomb was found, but the hoaxer was arrested by the FBI.

QE2 in Southampton, 1976

The following year QE2 undertook two chartered cruises through the Mediterranean to Israel in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the state's founding. The ship's Columbia Restaurant was koshered for Passover, and Jewish passengers were able to celebrate Passover on the ship. According to the book "The Angel" by Uri Bar-Joseph, Muammar Gaddafi ordered a submarine to torpedo her during one of the chartered cruises in retaliation for Israel's downing of Libyan Flight 114, but Anwar Sadat intervened secretly to foil the attack.

On 23 July 1976 while Queen Elizabeth 2 was 80 miles off the Scilly Isles on a transatlantic voyage, a flexible coupling drive connecting the starboard main engine high pressure rotor and the reduction gear box ruptured. This allowed lubricating oil under pressure to enter into the main engine room where it ignited, creating a severe fire. It took 20 minutes to bring the fire under control. Reduced down to two boilers, the ship limped back to Southampton. Damage from the fire resulted in a replacement boiler having to be fitted by dry-docking the ship and cutting an access hole in her side.

By 1978 Queen Elizabeth 2 was breaking even with an occupancy of 65%, generating revenues of greater than 30 million per year against which had to be deducted an annual fuel cost of ₤5 million and a monthly crew cost of ₤225,000. With it costing ₤80,000 a day for her to sit idle in port, her owners made every attempt to keep her at sea and full of passengers. As a result, as much maintenance as possible was undertaken while at sea. However, she needed all three of her boilers to be in service if she was to maintain her transatlantic schedule. With limited ability to maintain her boilers, reliability was becoming a serious issue.

Falklands War
On 3 May 1982, she was requisitioned by the British government for service as a troop carrier in the Falklands War.

In preparation for war service, Vosper Thornycroft commenced in Southampton on 5 May 1982 the installation of two helicopter pads, the transformation of public lounges into dormitories, the installation of fuel pipes that ran through the ship down to the engine room to allow for refuelling at sea, and the covering of carpets with 2,000 sheets of hardboard. A quarter of the ship's length was reinforced with steel plating, and an anti-magnetic coil was fitted to combat naval mines. Over 650 Cunard crew members volunteered for the voyage, to look after the 3,000 members of the Fifth Infantry Brigade, which the ship transported to South Georgia.

On 12 May 1982, with only one of her three boilers in operation, the ship departed Southampton for the South Atlantic, carrying 3,000 troops and 650 volunteer crew. The remaining boilers were brought back into service as she steamed south.

During the voyage, the ship was blacked out and the radar switched off to avoid detection, steaming on without modern aids.

Berthed in Málaga Spain 1982, with her original white funnel repainted red. Her hull is painted grey, a short lived decision

Queen Elizabeth 2 returned to the UK on 11 June 1982, where she was greeted in Southampton Water by The Queen Mother on board the Royal Yacht Britannia. Peter Jackson, the captain of the QE2 responded to the Queen Mother's welcome: "Please convey to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth our thanks for her kind message. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth 2 is proud to have been of service to Her Majesty's Forces." The ship underwent conversion back to passenger service, with her funnel being painted in the traditional Cunard orange with black stripes which are known as "Hands" for the first time, during the refit the hull's exterior was repainted an unconventional light pebble grey. She returned to service on 7 August 1982.

The new colour scheme proved unpopular with passengers, as well as difficult to maintain and so the hull reverted to traditional colours in 1983. Later that year, QE2 was fitted with a magrodome over her Quarter Deck pool.

Diesel era and Project Lifestyle

QE2’s new and wider funnel

QE2 once again experienced mechanical problems following her annual overhaul in November 1983. Boiler problems caused Cunard to cancel a cruise, and, in October 1984, an electrical fire caused a complete loss of power. The ship was delayed for several days before power could be restored. Instead of replacing the QE2 with a newer vessel, Cunard decided that it was more prudent to simply make improvements to her. Therefore, from 27 October 1986 to 25 April 1987,[44] QE2 underwent one of her most significant refurbishments when she was converted by Lloyd Wert at their shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany from steam power to diesel. Nine MAN B&W diesel electric engines, new propellers and a heat recovery system (to utilise heat expelled by the engines) were fitted, which halved the fuel consumption. With this new propulsion system, QE2 was expected to serve another 20 years with Cunard. The passenger accommodation was also modernised. The refurbishment cost over ₤100 million.

On 7 August 1992, the underside of the hull was extensively damaged when she ran aground south of Cuttyhunk Island near Martha's Vineyard, while returning from a five-day cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia along the east coast of the United States and Canada. A combination of her speed, an uncharted shoal and underestimating the increase in the ship's draft due to the effect of squat led to the ship's hull scraping rocks on the ocean floor. The accident resulted in the passengers disembarking earlier than scheduled at nearby Newport, Rhode Island and the ship being taken out of service while temporary repairs were made in drydock at Boston. Several days later, divers found the red paint from the keel on previously uncharted rocks where the ship struck the bottom.

By the mid 1990s, it was decided that QE2 was due for a new look and in 1994 the ship was given a multimillion-pound refurbishment in Hamburg code named Project Lifestyle.

On 11 September 1995, QE2 encountered a rogue wave, estimated at 90 ft (27 m), caused by Hurricane Luis in the North Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles south of eastern Newfoundland. One year later, during her twentieth world cruise, she completed her four millionth mile. The ship had sailed the equivalent of 185 times around the planet.

QE2 celebrated the 30th anniversary of her maiden voyage in Southampton in 1999. In three decades she had 1,159 voyages, sailed 4,648,050 nautical miles (5,348,880 mi; 8,608,190 km) and carried over two million passengers.


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Reply 50 Years Ago Today; The Queen Elizabeth 2 sets off on her Maiden Voyage (Original post)
Dennis Donovan May 2 OP
unc70 May 2 #1
Dennis Donovan May 2 #2

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2019, 07:06 AM

1. A lovely lady

I had the great pleasure of crossing three times on the QE2 back in the 1970s.

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Response to unc70 (Reply #1)

Thu May 2, 2019, 07:09 AM

2. Very lucky! I've only seen her in real life 1x - leaving New York Harbor

I was on Ellis Island as she sailed by. I choked up...

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