RMS Queen Elizabeth

The RMS Queen Elizabeth was an ocean liner operated by Cunard Line. With Queen Mary she provided weekly luxury liner service between Southampton in the United Kingdom and New York City in the United States, via Cherbourg in France.

While being constructed in the mid-1930s by John Brown and Company at Clydebank, Scotland, the build was known as Hull 552.[5] Launched on 27 September 1938, she was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth, then Queen Consort to King George VI, who became the Queen Mother in 1952. With a design that improved upon that of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth was a slightly larger ship, the largest passenger liner ever built at that time and for 56 years thereafter. She also has the distinction of being the largest-ever riveted ship by gross tonnage. She first entered service in February 1940 as a troopship in World War II, and it was not until October 1946 that she served in her intended role as an ocean liner.

With the decline in the popularity of the transatlantic route, both ships were replaced by the smaller, more economical Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969. Queen Mary was retired from service on 9 December 1967, and was sold to the city of Long Beach, California. Queen Elizabeth was sold to a succession of buyers, most of whom had unsuccessful plans for her. Finally Queen Elizabeth was sold to Hong Kong businessman Tung Chao Yung, who intended to convert her into a floating university cruise ship called Seawise University. In 1972, while undergoing refurbishment in Hong Kong harbour, fire broke out aboard under unexplained circumstances and the ship was capsized by the water used to fight the fire. In 1973, the wreck was deemed an obstruction to shipping in the area, and so was partially scrapped where she lay.[6]

Queen Elizabeth +
RMS Queen Elizabeth at Cherbourg, France, in 1966
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
  • 1939–68: Queen Elizabeth
  • 1968–70: Elizabeth
  • 1970–72: Seawise University
Namesake: HM Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, The Queen Mother
Port of registry:

Liverpool (1940–1968)

Nassau (1970–1972)
Route: Transatlantic
Ordered: 6 October 1936
Yard number: Hull 552
Way number: 4
Laid down: 4 December 1936[1]
Launched: 27 September 1938
Christened: 27 September 1938
Maiden voyage: 16 October 1946[2][3]
Fate: Caught fire and capsized, wreck partially dismantled, vessel's remains covered over on seabed in Hong Kong Harbour in 1975
General characteristics
Type: Ocean liner
Tonnage: 83,673 GRT
Displacement: 83,000+ tons
Length: 1,031 ft (314.2 m)
Beam: 118 ft (36.0 m)
Height: 233 ft (71.0 m)
Draught: 38 ft (11.6 m)
Installed power: 12 × Yarrow boilers
  • 4 × Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines
  • 4 shafts, 200,000 shp (150,000 kW)[4]
Speed: 28.5 kn (52.8 km/h; 32.8 mph) (service)
Capacity: 2,283 passengers
Crew: 1,000+ crew

Building and design

On the day RMS Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage, Cunard's chairman, Sir Percy Bates, informed his ship designers that it was time to start designing the planned second ship.[7] The official contract between Cunard and government financiers was signed on 6 October 1936.[8]

The new ship improved upon the design of Queen Mary[9] with sufficient changes, including a reduction in the number of boilers to twelve instead of Queen Mary's twenty-four, that the designers could discard one funnel and increase deck, cargo and passenger space. The two funnels were self-supporting and braced internally to give a cleaner looking appearance. With the forward well deck omitted, a more refined hull shape was achieved, and a sharper, raked bow was added for a third bow-anchor point.[9] She was to be eleven feet longer and of 4,000 tons greater displacement than her older sister ship, Queen Mary.[10][8]

Queen Elizabeth Construction
Hull 552 (Queen Elizabeth), growing on the stocks

Queen Elizabeth was built on slipway four at John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland, Great Britain. During her construction she was more commonly known by her shipyard number, Hull 552.[11] The interiors were designed by a team of artists headed by the architect George Grey Wornum.[12] Cunard's plan was for the ship to be launched in September 1938, with fitting out intended to be complete for the ship to enter service in the spring of 1940.[8] The Queen herself performed the launching ceremony on 27 September 1938.[9] Supposedly, the liner started to slide into the water before Elizabeth could officially launch her, and acting sharply, she managed to smash a bottle of Australian red over the liner's bow just before it slid out of reach.[13] The ship was then sent for fitting out.[8][9] It was announced that on 23 August 1939 the King and Queen were to visit the ship and tour the engine room and that 24 April 1940 was to be the proposed date of her maiden voyage. Due to the outbreak of World War II, these two events were postponed and Cunard's plans were shattered.[8]

Queen Elizabeth sat at the fitting-out dock at the shipyard in her Cunard colours until 2 November 1939, when the Ministry of Shipping issued special licences to declare her seaworthy. On 29 December her engines were tested for the first time, running from 0900 to 1600 with the propellers disconnected to monitor her oil and steam operating temperatures and pressures. Two months later Cunard received a letter from Winston Churchill,[14] then First Lord of the Admiralty, ordering the ship to leave Clydeside as soon as possible and "to keep away from the British Isles as long as the order was in force".

Second World War

At the start of World War II, it was decided that Queen Elizabeth was so vital to the war effort that she must not have her movements tracked by German spies operating in the Clydebank area. Therefore, an elaborate ruse was fabricated involving her sailing to Southampton to complete her fitting out.[14] Another factor prompting Queen Elizabeth's departure was the necessity to clear the fitting out berth at the shipyard for the battleship HMS Duke of York,[14] which was in need of its final fitting-out. Only the berth at John Brown could accommodate the King George V-class battleship's needs.

StateLibQld 1 147799 Queen Elizabeth (ship)
Queen Elizabeth in New York after World War II

One major factor that limited the ship's secret departure date was that there were only two spring tides that year that would see the water level high enough for Queen Elizabeth to leave the Clydebank shipyard,[14] and German intelligence were aware of this fact. A minimal crew of four hundred were assigned for the trip; most were transferred from Aquitania for a short coastal voyage to Southampton.[14] Parts were shipped to Southampton, and preparations were made to move the ship into the King George V Graving Dock when she arrived.[14] The names of Brown's shipyard employees were booked to local hotels in Southampton to give a false trail of information and Captain John Townley was appointed as her first master. Townley had previously commanded Aquitania on one voyage, and several of Cunard's smaller vessels before that. Townley and his hastily signed on crew of four hundred Cunard personnel were told by a company representative before they left to pack for a voyage where they could be away from home for up to six months.[15]

By the beginning of March 1940, Queen Elizabeth was ready for her secret voyage. The Cunard colours were painted over with battleship grey, and on the morning of 3 March, the QE quietly left her moorings in the Clyde and proceeded out of the river to sail further down the coast, where she was met by a King's Messenger,[14] who presented sealed orders directly to the captain. While waiting for the Messenger, the ship was refuelled; adjustments to the ship's compass and some final testing of equipment were also carried out before she sailed to her secret destination.

Captain Townley discovered that he was to take the ship directly to New York in the then neutral United States without stopping, or even slowing to drop off the Southampton harbour pilot who had embarked on at Clydebank, and to maintain strict radio silence. Later that day, at the time when she was due to arrive at Southampton, the city was bombed by the Luftwaffe.[14] Queen Elizabeth zigzagged across the Atlantic to elude German u-boats and took six days to reach New York at an average speed of 26 knots. In New York she found herself moored alongside both Queen Mary and the French Line's Normandie, the only time all three of the world's largest ocean liners were ever berthed together.[14] Captain Townley received two telegrams on his arrival, one from his wife congratulating him and the other from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth thanking him for the vessel's safe delivery. The ship was then secured so that no one could board her without prior permission, including port officials.[14]

Queen Elizabeth left the port of New York on 13 November 1940 for Singapore to receive her troopship conversion.[8] After two stops to refuel and replenish her stores in Trinidad and Cape Town, she arrived in Singapore's Naval Docks where she was fitted with anti-aircraft guns, and her hull repainted grey.

British troops arrive in the Middle East having been transported by the liner QUEEN ELIZABETH, 22 July 1942. E14706
Queen Elizabeth painted in wartime grey, having just transported troops to the Middle East in 1942

As a troopship, Queen Elizabeth left Singapore on 11 February, and on 23 February 1942 Queen Elizabeth secretly arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia, Canada. She underwent refit work in drydock adding accommodation, armaments and three hundred naval ratings quickly painted the hull.[16] In mid March carrying 8,000 American soldiers, the Queen Elizabeth began a 7,700-mile voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia.[17] Initially she carried Australian troops to theatres of operation in Asia and Africa.[18] After 1942, the two Queens were relocated to the North Atlantic for the transportation of American troops to Europe.[18]

Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were both used as troop transports during the war. Their high speeds allowed them to outrun hazards, principally German U-boats, usually allowing them to travel outside a convoy.[15] During her war service as a troopship Queen Elizabeth carried more than 750,000 troops, and she also sailed some 500,000 miles (800,000 km).[8]

Post Second World War

Queen Elizabeth in King George V dock - geograph.org.uk - 1330896
RMS Queen Elizabeth at Southampton in 1966

Following the end of the Second World War, Queen Elizabeth was refitted and furnished as an ocean liner[8] while her running mate Queen Mary remained in her wartime role and grey appearance except for her funnels, which were repainted in the company's colours. For another year, her sibling did military service, returning troops and G.I. brides to the United States while Queen Elizabeth was overhauled at the Firth of Clyde Drydock, in Greenock, by the John Brown Shipyard.

Six years of war service had never permitted the formal sea trials to take place so they were now finally undertaken. Under the command of Commodore Sir James Bisset the ship travelled to the Isle of Arran and her trials were carried out. On board was the ship's namesake, Queen Elizabeth, and her two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.[8] During the trials, Queen Elizabeth took the wheel for a brief time and the two young princesses recorded the two measured runs with stopwatches that they had been given for the occasion. Bisset was under strict instructions from Sir Percy Bates, who was also aboard the trials, that all that was required from the ship was two measured runs of no more than 30 knots and that she was not permitted to attempt to attain a higher speed record than Queen Mary.[19] Queen Elizabeth's engines were capable of driving her to speeds of over 32 knots.[19] After her trials Queen Elizabeth finally entered passenger service, allowing Cunard White Star to launch the long planned two-ship weekly service to New York.[20] Despite specifications similar to those of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth never held the Blue Riband, for Cunard White Star chairman Sir Percy Bates asked that the two ships not to try to compete against each other.[19]

The ship ran aground on a sandbank off Southampton on 14 April 1947 and was re-floated the following day.[8] In 1955, during an annual overhaul at Southampton, England, Queen Elizabeth was fitted with underwater fin stabilisers to smooth the ride in rough seas. Two fins were fitted on each side of the hull. The fins were retractable into the hull to save fuel in smooth seas and for docking.[21] On 29 July 1959, she was in a collision with the American freighter American Hunter in foggy conditions in New York Harbour and was holed above the waterline.[22]

In New York Harbor approaching Manhattan, 1965

Together with Queen Mary and in competition with the American liners SS United States and SS America, Queen Elizabeth dominated the transatlantic passenger trade until their fortunes began to decline with the advent of the faster and more economical jet airliner in the late 1950s.[15] As passenger numbers declined, the liners became uneconomic to operate in the face of rising fuel and labour costs. For a short time, Queen Elizabeth—now under the command of Commodore Geoffrey Trippleton Marr, attempted a dual role in order to become more profitable; when not plying her usual transatlantic route, which she now alternated in her sailings with the French Line's SS France, the ship cruised between New York and Nassau.[8] For this new tropical purpose, the ship received a major refit in 1965, with a new Lido deck added to her aft section, enhanced air conditioning, and an outdoor swimming pool. With these improvements, Cunard intended to keep the ship in operation until at least the middle 1970s.[23] However, the strategy did not prove successful due to the high fuel costs plus the ship's deep draught, which prevented her from entering various island ports, and the ship's width which preventing her from using the Panama Canal.

Cunard retired Queen Mary in 1967 and Queen Elizabeth by 1969 and replaced them with a single, smaller ship, the more economical Queen Elizabeth 2.

Final years

In 1968, Queen Elizabeth was sold to a group of American businessmen from a company called The Queen Corporation (which was 85% owned by Cunard and 15% by them). The new company intended to operate the ship as a hotel and tourist attraction in Port Everglades, Florida, similar to the planned use of Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.[8] Elizabeth, as she was now called, actually opened to tourists before Queen Mary (which opened in 1971) but it was not to last. The climate of southern Florida was much harder on Queen Elizabeth than the climate of southern California was on Queen Mary. There was some talk of permanently flooding the bilge and allowing the Queen Elizabeth to rest on the bed of the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale harbour (Port Everglades) and remain open, but the ship was forced to close after losing money and being declared a fire hazard.[24] The vessel was towed out of the harbour to Asia to become a floating university after being sold at auction in 1970 to Hong Kong tycoon Tung Chao Yung.[8]

Tung, the head of the Orient Overseas Line, intended to convert the vessel into a university for the World Campus Afloat program (later reformed and renamed as Semester at Sea). Following the tradition of the Orient Overseas Line, the ship was renamed Seawise University,[8] as a play on Tung's initials (C.Y.'s).

The ship was now under Chinese ownership and it was decided to sail her to Hong Kong. This proved to be problematic as the ship's engines and boilers were in poor condition after several years of neglect. The retired Commodore Marr and a former Chief Engineer of the ship were hired by Tung as advisors for the journey to Hong Kong. Marr recommended that the Seawise University be towed to the New Territories but Tung and his crew were convinced that they could sail the ship there using just the aft engines and boilers. The planned several week trip turned into months as the crew battled with boiler issues and a fire. An unplanned lengthy mid-voyage stopover allowed the new owners to fly spare parts out to the ship and carry out repairs before resuming the course to Hong Kong Harbour.

Seawise University wreck
1972: The wreck of Seawise University, the former Queen Elizabeth, in Hong Kong Victoria Harbour

Near the completion of the £5 million conversion, the vessel caught fire on 9 January 1972.[8] There is some suspicion that the fires were set deliberately, as several blazes broke out simultaneously throughout the ship.[25] The fact that C.Y. Tung had acquired the vessel for $3.5 million, and had insured it for $8 million, led some to speculate that the inferno was part of a fraud to collect on the insurance claim. Others speculated that the fires were the result of a conflict between Tung, a Chinese Nationalist, and Communist-dominated ship construction unions.[26]

The ship was completely destroyed by the fire, and the water sprayed on her by fireboats caused the burnt wreck to capsize and sink in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour.[27] The vessel was finally declared a shipping hazard and dismantled for scrap between 1974 and 1975. Portions of the hull that were not salvaged were left at the bottom of the bay. The keel and boilers remained at the bottom of the harbour and the area was marked as "Foul" on local sea charts warning ships not to try to anchor there. It is estimated that around 40–50% of the wreck was still on the seabed. In the late 1990s, the final remains of the wreck were buried during land reclamation for the construction of Container Terminal 9.[28] Position of the wreck: 22°19.717′N 114°06.733′E / 22.328617°N 114.112217°E.[29]

After the fire, Tung had one of the liner's anchors and the metal letters "Q" and "E" from the name on the bow placed in front of the office building at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, California, US, that was intended to be the headquarters of the Seawise University venture,[30][31] and then were on display with commemorative plaques in the lobby of Wall Street Plaza, 88 Pine Street, New York City. Two of the ship's fire warning system brass plaques were recovered by a dredger and were displayed at The Aberdeen Boat Club in Hong Kong in an exhibit about the ship. The charred remnants of her last ensign were cut from the flag pole and framed in 1972, and still adorn the wall of the officers' mess of marine police HQ in Hong Kong. Parker Pen Company produced a special edition of 5,000 pens made from material recovered from the wreck in a presentation box, today highly collectible.[32]

Following the demise of Queen Elizabeth, the largest passenger ship in active service became the 66,343 GT SS France, which was longer but with less tonnage than the Cunarder.

In fiction

In 1959, the ship made an appearance in the British satirical comedy film The Mouse That Roared, starring Peter Sellers and Jean Seberg. While a troupe of invading men from "Grand Fenwick", a fictional European micro-nation, cross the Atlantic to 'war' with the United States, they meet and pass the far larger Queen Elizabeth, and learn that New York City is closed due to an air raid drill.

Ian Fleming set the climax to his 1956 James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever on Queen Elizabeth. The 1971 film version starring Connery used the P&O liner SS Canberra for the sequence.[33]

The charred wreck was featured in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, as a covert headquarters for MI6.[34][35] Q's labs also are in the wreckage of this ship.


  1. ^ Pride of the North Atlantic, A Maritime Trilogy, David F. Hutchings. Waterfront 2003
  2. ^ John Shephard, The Cunard – White Star liner Queen Elizabeth
  3. ^ RMS Queen Elizabeth – Maiden Voyage after War – Cunard – Original footage, British Movietone News via youtube
  4. ^ "RMS Queen Elizabeth".
  5. ^ "Big Liners Steel Frame Work Rises as Workers Speed Up" Popular Mechanics, left-side pg 346. Hearst Magazines. September 1937.
  6. ^ "Classic Liners and Cruise Ships – Queen Elizabeth". Cruiseserver.net. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  7. ^ RMS Queen Elizabeth from Victory to Valhalla. pp. 10
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Cunard Queen Elizabeth 1940 – 1972". Cunard.com. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d Maxtone-Graham, John. The Only Way to Cross. New York: Collier Books, 1972, p. 355
  10. ^ "Pathe newsreel from 1938 reporting on new ship build".
  11. ^ RMS Queen Elizabeth, The Beautiful Lady. Janette McCutcheon, The History Press Ltd (8 November 2001)
  12. ^ The Liverpool Post, 23 August 1937
  13. ^ Hutchings, David F. (2003) Pride of the North Atlantic. A Maritime Trilogy, Waterfront.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Maxtone-Graham 1972, p. 358–60
  15. ^ a b c Floating Palaces. (1996) A&E. TV Documentary. Narrated by Fritz Weaver
  16. ^ www.nauticapedia.ca/Articles/Queen_Elizabeth.php
  17. ^ The RMS Queen Elizabeth (1942) Zacha's Bay Window Gallery
  18. ^ a b "Rms. Queen Elizabeth". Ayrshire Scotland. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  19. ^ a b c R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth
  20. ^ Maxtone-Graham 1972, p. 396
  21. ^ "Big Liner Sprouts Fins." Popular Science, June 1955, pp. 122–124.
  22. ^ "Liner Queen Elizabeth in Collision". The Times (54526). London. 30 July 1959. col A, p. 6.
  23. ^ Maxtone-Graham 1972, p. 409
  24. ^ "'Queen' Fire Hazard'". Journal and Courier. Lafayette, Indiana. Associated Press. 13 November 1969. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "Arson Suspected as Blaze Destroys Queen Elizabeth". Google News. 10 January 1972. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  26. ^ "On This Day: The Queen Elizabeth Mysteriously Sinks in a Hong Kong Harbor". Findingdulcinea.com. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  27. ^ "Queen Elizabeth". Chriscunard.com. Archived from the original on 20 April 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  28. ^ "Sea queen to lie below CT9". Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  29. ^ "Providing Sufficient Water Depth for Kwai Tsing Container Basin and its Approach Channel Environmental Impact Assessment Report – Appendix 9.3 UK Hydrographic Office Data" (PDF). Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  30. ^ "Queen Elizabeth". cruisetalkshow.com. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  31. ^ Whitlow, Z. e (14 December 2010). "The Captain's Table: The Queen Elizabeth in Torrance".
  32. ^ "Modern Pens for Sale: The Parker 75 and 105 Limited Editions". Penhome.co.uk. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  33. ^ CANBERRA – The James Bond Ship
  34. ^ "RMS Queen Elizabeth". Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  35. ^ Hann, Michael (3 October 2012). "My favourite Bond film: The Man with the Golden Gun". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2015.

Further reading

  • Britton, Andrew (2013). RMS Queen Elizabeth. Classic Liners series. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. ISBN 9780752479514.
  • Butler, D.A. (2002). Warrior Queens: The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in World War II (1st ed.). Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books.
  • Galbraith, R (1988). Destiny's Daughter: The Tragedy of RMS Queen Elizabeth. Vermont: Trafalgar Square.
  • Maddocks, Melvin (1978). The Great Liners. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books. ISBN 0809426641.
  • Varisco, R (2013). RMS Queen Elizabeth: Cunard's Big Beautiful Ship of Life. Gold Coast: Blurb Books.
  • Harvey, Clive, 2008, R.M.S Queen Elizabeth The Ultimate Ship, Carmania Press London, ISBN 978-0-95436668-1

External links

Alfred Charles Gardner

Alfred Charles Gardner FRSE MICE MIME (1880–1952) was a Scottish engineer. He designed vast station roofs and bridges for the Great Western Railway. In later life, he created the launch sites for RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth in the Clyde shipyards.


Elderslie (Scottish Gaelic: Ach na Feàrna) is a village in the council area and historic county of Renfrewshire in west central Scotland. It chiefly serves as a commuter village, situated midway between the towns of Paisley and Johnstone, and lies 11 miles (18 km) west of Glasgow city centre.

Elderslie is most famous as the assumed birthplace of Scottish hero Sir William Wallace, a knight born around 1270 who served as a military leader in the Wars of Scottish Independence before being captured and executed.

Funnel (ship)

A funnel is the smokestack or chimney on a ship used to expel boiler steam and smoke or engine exhaust. They are also commonly referred to as stacks.

MS Queen Elizabeth

MS Queen Elizabeth (QE) is a cruise ship of the Vista class operated by the Cunard Line. The design is modified from that of previous ships of that class, and slightly larger than Queen Victoria, at 92,000 GT, largely due to a more vertical stern. The ship is able to carry up to 2092 passengers.The ship's name was announced by Cunard on 10 October 2007. Since the retirement of Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2008 the company has operated three vessels. The naming of the ship as Queen Elizabeth brings about a situation similar to that between 1940 and 1948, when Cunard's original Queen Elizabeth was in service at the same time as the Royal Navy battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth went to sea the summer of 2017, six and a half years after the cruise ship entered service.


QE1 may refer to:

Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533–1603)

RMS Queen Elizabeth, Cunard oceanliner replaced by RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

Round 1 of quantitative easing by the United States Federal Reserve

the (5860) 1981 QE1 asteroid

Qe1, the algebraic chess notation for a move of the queen to square e1

Queen Elizabeth (ship)

Queen Elizabeth (ship) may refer to several ships:

HMS Queen Elizabeth for several ships of that name

RMS Queen Elizabeth

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

MS Queen Elizabeth

Queen Elizabeth 2

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 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 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.

RMS Mauretania (1938)

RMS Mauretania was launched on 28 July 1938 at the Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead, England, and was completed in May 1939. The second Mauretania was the first ship built for the newly formed Cunard White Star company following the merger in April 1934 of the Cunard and White Star Line. On the withdrawal of the first RMS Mauretania in 1934, to prevent a rival company using the name and to keep it available for the new liner, arrangements were made for the Red Funnel paddle steamer Queen to be renamed Mauretania in the interim.The new liner had a tonnage of 35,739 gross, an overall length of 772 feet (235 m) and a beam of 89 feet (27 m) and had a exterior design similar to RMS Queen Elizabeth. The vessel was powered by two sets of Parsons single reduction-geared steam turbines giving 42,000 shaft horsepower (31,000 kW) and driving twin propellers. Her service speed was 23 knots (43 km/h) with a maximum speed of 26 knots (48 km/h).

TSS T/T Calshot

TSS T/T Calshot is a tug tender built in 1929 by John I Thornycroft & Co, and completed in 1930 for the Red Funnel Line. Upon the tugboat's completion, she was put into service tendering the various liners that stopped either in the Solent or Southampton Water which saved them the time and expense of docking just to take up or set down a few passengers. She was also used to augment the excursion fleet. Calshot remained in service with Red Funnel from 1930-1964.At the outbreak of World War II, Calshot was appropriated by the Admiralty for use at Scapa Flow. In 1942 she was transferred to the River Clyde where she acted as tender to the two Cunard Line Queens, RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary, transferring approximately 1,500,000 servicemen. In 1944 she returned to Southampton for the build up to D-Day.

Calshot featured prominently in the 1952 British Transport Films production "Ocean Terminal", in which, amongst other things, she was filmed easing RMS Queen Elizabeth away from its berth.

In 1964, Red Funnel sold the Calshot to a subsidiary of the Holland America Line, for use as the tender for the liners Maasdam and Ryndam. For this she was based in Galway Bay, Ireland, and was renamed Galway Bay after her new area of service. She would later be operated by CIÉ as a ferry between Galway and the Aran Islands.

In 1986, Calshot was bought back by her port of registry (more specifically the Southampton City Council), with the intention of making her the centrepiece of a maritime museum in Ocean Village. In 1991, she was moved to an apparently permanent berth at the Town Quay. However, she was later moved to the Council Wharf. On 5 April 2011, Calshot was moved by tugboat from Berth 50 to Berth 42.

Calshot is one of only three surviving classical tender ships which served the great ocean liners (another famous example is the SS Nomadic, which tendered the ill-fated RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage at Cherbourg, France. The third being the Manchester Ship Canal's Daniel Adamson).

In her career, Calshot has tendered some of the most famous ocean liners ever built, such as the RMS Caronia, the Cunard Queens RMS Queen Elizabeth and RMS Queen Mary, the SS United States, and the White Star Line ship RMS Olympic.

The Calshot is currently berthed in Southampton, where her restoration is being overseen by the Tug Tender Calshot Trust. The intention was to display her as part of the Aeronautica Museum in Trafalgar Dock, Southampton originally due to open in 2015. In 2012 the Associated British Ports (ABP) withdrew the Trafalgar Dock location for the museum citing the need to relocate Red Funnel Ferry operations. In January 2017 the vessel was declared unseaworthy by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Without a long-term berth, the board was unable to develop a sustainable business plan as required for a Heritage Lottery Grant. In October 2018 ABP informed the owners that the ship must vacate her berth by June of 2019. The owners requested a place to move the ship to dry land as the deteriorating condition of the ship will not allow it to remain in the water. ABP infomed the owners that space was "not an option".

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