The Current Condition of RMS Queen Mary

Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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In the last couple of years there have been a number rather alarming articles in the UK press about the current state of the beautiful Queen Mary at Long Beach. Some claiming that she's in an utterly dire state.

But of course we should always take newspaper talk with a wee pinch of salt (especially if it's the Daily Mail !)

Do any sons and daughters of California that post on ET who actually live within reasonable visiting distance of the Queen Mary (or who have the ear of contractors, civil servants, local politicians or the current ships staff) know how things really are ?

Here's a question that might perhaps have to be considered one day -

If the costs of repairing and maintaining the Queen Mary ever became too much for Long Beach and no private investors were forthcoming, would it be perhaps be kinder to take her out and sink her with full naval honours possibly to become a marine habitat or diving attraction ?

Now, I'm not proud of suggesting that, not one bit, but unfortunately there may come a day when it comes to that I fear.

For the second part of my post, what do you think of this tale ?

A few years ago at the Scottish Maritime Museum, I got talking to an old boy who was really passionate about the Queen Mary. His father and uncles all had worked on her at John Brown's, and he had followed in their footsteps to help build the QEII. He wasn't all that happy with the people who run her though.

He and a group of others had sent a letter to the company that run her if they would be intersted in hosting a modest exhibit on the history of the town of Clydebank, John Brown's yard, Clyde ship building past & present, the Clydebank Blitz etc.

He felt that the story of the thousands of men who built the Queen Mary and the symbol of hope she became for the workers and their families during the Great Depression on Clydeside deserved to be told aboard her at Long Beach. He said that they had photographs, plans, maps and models they willing to loan for such an exhibit.

However they were told in no uncertain terms that their idea was not welcome and they felt that visitors would not be interested in it.

Now this was a few years ago and of course, this was just the old chap's side of the story. Is there anything currently on the ship concerning the building of her and the men who made it happen ?

I must say I think would be nice if Clydebank and Southampton eventually received custody of a propeller each to put on public display. But that's just my meaningless opinion.

Your thoughts ?
 
Dec 27, 2017
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My opinion is based on when I visited her twenty-odd years ago. At that time she was 'between owners' and you could virtually wander anywhere (yes, I did operate the Bridge Telegraphs!). My biggest impression was that it was like walking through a corpse. Everything that makes a ship 'alive' was missing and the general condition was appalling. Add to that the huge chunks cut out internally and the main machinery they'd removed it made for a sad visit. I thought at the time she'd have been better given a decent ocean burial but that was just my impression.
 

Dave Gittins

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You can get onto Google Street View and wander all over Queen Mary. You could spend hours poking around. Some of the deck planking looks a bit rough,especially on the foredeck, but overall she looks pretty good. The photos date from 2012 and 2013.
 

Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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A "coffer dam" possibly ?

There must be big dry docks in San Diego and San Francisco but can they accommodate the Queen Mary ?

As time goes on I'm leaning more and more to the argument that it would be better to scuttle her and turn her into a habitat for marine life and recreational diving location.
 
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Dave Gittins

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As far as I know, the dry dock at San Diego is just a little too short for Queen Mary. I understand that there is no dock big enough on the USA west coast. There are several in the east. You can do anything if you have enough money, though towing the ship to the east coast might be asking a bit!

Given the amount that has been stripped out of the ship, maybe a dignified scuttling would be best if the hull is too far gone. I wonder what US taxpayers would think about paying big bucks to preserve a British ship while SS United States goes begging.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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If it gets renamed HMS Trump the white house might say it becomes eligible for emergency funding by diverting some funds away from some other project by executive order? :p
 

Doug Criner

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There is a large drydock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington - but I think it stays busy servicing aircraft carriers for the U.S. Navy. On the east coast, there is a large, private drydock at Newport News, Virginia.

I am familiar with some of the naval museum ships parked around various U.S. ports - mostly WW2 or later vintage, so newer than Queen Mary. Even such museum ships that are moored in freshwater experience hull deterioration. Saltwater would be worse. Either way, such ships would need to be drydocked periodically for hull repairs and preservation. The USS Olympic, a steel ship commissioned in 1895, is moored in the Delaware River at Philadelphia, which is considered freshwater. It was last drydocked in 1945, and is considered to be in deplorable condition, possibly unseaworthy even to be towed.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Mark, I was wondering how long it would take you to comment on my comment. There are some things that are hard to resist. Feel free to delete it, and this one too. I'll stick to the script from now on.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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There are a number of floating retired military vessels, including battleships, submarines and aircraft carriers that are floating museums in various ports around the US on both coasts and in HI. I would expect this will be a problem for all of them at one point or another.
 
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There are a number of floating retired military vessels, including battleships, submarines and aircraft carriers that are floating museums in various ports around the US on both coasts and in HI. I would expect this will be a problem for all of them at one point or another.
The Battleship USS Texas is just one of many "museum ships" having the same problems. I understand it is being towed to a location for repairs. There is also talk of moving it to some other location other than at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Park.
 
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Seumas

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Mar 25, 2019
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As far as I know, the dry dock at San Diego is just a little too short for Queen Mary. I understand that there is no dock big enough on the USA west coast. There are several in the east. You can do anything if you have enough money, though towing the ship to the east coast might be asking a bit!

Given the amount that has been stripped out of the ship, maybe a dignified scuttling would be best if the hull is too far gone. I wonder what US taxpayers would think about paying big bucks to preserve a British ship while SS United States goes begging.
Thanks for the info on the dry docks Dave.

She is too wide for the Panama Canal isn't she ? A voyage round by South America to a dry dock on the Eastern US seaboard (gulp) what are the odds of her actually making it ?

You make a good point about the taxpayers. Online articles about the eye watering cost of repairing the ship usually do contain in the comments sections quite a few Long Beach residents who are fond of the Queen Mary but ultimately want their tax dollars spent on more worthwhile services.

I fear both these two beautiful ships Queen Mary and United States don't have much time left above water.

When the inevitable does happen I do hope that Clydebank and Southampton will each receive ownership of a propeller for public display.