The End is Near


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Apr 27, 2005
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There is a clash between reality and fancy, and it's a dichotomy that most of us hate to face. Maintaining a large, static ship as a display or functional structure, a building, a museum, etc., takes funding of enormous quantity. Perhaps the QE2 will get that kind of intense looking after in Dubai. Keeping a liner intact is nearly impossible. The owning agency is not only fighting the wear of the vessel under the tread of visitors, but the ravages of wind, temperature, water, and sunlight. The "Queen Mary" is the story constantly pulled out of the files, but consider the "United States" as a static exhibit. Desirable? Yes. Practical? unlikely. I hated to see the classic lines of the "France" torn apart, but even "Normandie", had she survived the war, would have likely been scrapped in the exact same manner. Ship preservation is brutal business. Some of the best preserved ships are immersed under miles of seawater, casualties of water or accidents!
I have come to regard the passing of these lovely relics in a manner similar to losing a beloved elderly friend. I don't want to part, but the alternatives are few and impractical or simply wrong.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Perhaps Midshipcentury would know.<<

Maybe but they haven't updated the photo page since November. Not that there would be much of anything left to see. That latest photo was of the ship sliced and diced down to the waterline.
 
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Ellen Grace Butland

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From what I hear, the QE2 will be ripped apart and transmogrified into something weird and nasty. I would so LOVE to be proven wrong on this. And yes, I do feel if I have lost a beloved elderly friend, almost every year for the past 20 years, she has come to Auckland and I would often get up early in the morning to watch her enter the Waitemata Harbour. This, after I had driven a bus until midnight the night before. I am sad I only took the one chance to go to Sydney in her, and glad I DID take that chance.
 
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Ellen Grace Butland

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The preservation of even a small ship costs megabucks, the Auckland Harbour steam tug WILLIAM C DALDY (named for Auckland's first harbour-master) costs about $NZ500 for coal for a couple of days steaming - apart from ongoing maintenance costs. Eventually I think she may be taken out of the water to be displayed inside the Maritime Museum on a cradle, but even doing that would cost a mint. That solution might be possible for a smaller vessel, and there are several yachts etc displayed in cradles, at least they are within sight and smell of the sea.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Eventually I think she may be taken out of the water to be displayed inside the Maritime Museum on a cradle, but even doing that would cost a mint.<<

Not doing it could cost even more. The larger naval museums are having some very serious problems with hull corrosion in the water. The Patriot's Point Museum is estimating that it needs around $50 million to make some badly needed and long overdue repairs. Mum and I go there whenever we can and we've noticed some severe corrosion on the turtleback of the USS Clamagore some of which has only been recently repaired, and the USS Laffey is having problems with leaks.

The battleship USS Texas is having similar problems in spite of being having repairs done ten years ago. There are plans afoot to take her out of the water into a permanent drydock. I suspect any of the museums which survive in the long haul will have to do this.
 
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Ellen Grace Butland

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Yes, even the Naheel crowd reckon they will keep QE2 for only about fifty years. I notice that Brunel's ship "Great Britain" has always been displayed in a drydock, incidentally the one where she was built, and since she had lain down at the Falklands for years and had to be carried home on the back of another ship, that was a rescue and a half. And it cost megabucks.
 
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On the other hand, the wooden steam tug, "Seguin", was pulled out of the water at the Bath Marine Museum, for restoration, and immediately died of dry rot and wood shrinkage. The steam engine was preserved, but "Seguin" was destroyed. Perhaps drydocking and liberal applications of paint are the suggested remedies for iron and steel alone. Then there is the matter of rivets versus welds, and which is more subject to environmental stress. To put an even more questionable edge on it, imagine the difference in the thickness between battleship armor plating and conventional ship hulls!
However, I think we are getting away from the topic of the "France"...
 
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>>To put an even more questionable edge on it, imagine the difference in the thickness between battleship armor plating and conventional ship hulls!<<

Actually, the hull plating of a battleship tends to be not that much thicker then that of most any other ship. The armour is arranged in decks and belts to cover the vital areas of the ship. You sometimes hear of this area being referred to as the armoured citidal. As heavy as steel is, you really can't make the entire hull several inches thick, so you have to dispose of it in such a way that the minimal amount of steel covers the maximum area.

It sounds to me as if the Seguin was the victim of a poor understanding of how wood behaves in and out of water. The HMS Victory is in a permanent drydock but was much more carefully looked after. So was the Cutty Sark, the fire notwithstanding. Preservation is possible but you have to know what you're doing.
 

jason stolsek

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Jan 19, 2006
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I had read recently that due to the economy sinking in Dubai, too they are thinking of opening the QE2 "as is". They would use the onboard powerplant as well as exterior hookups to power the onboard systems and leave most of the interiors untouched. The funnel will remain in place as well. Let's hope so. QE2 should go home to the UK if the Nakheel group ever has a change of fortune.
 
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I've seen no other references to any part of the "France" at the breakers. I would assume the balance of the hull is gone entirely.
 
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It's been gone for quite some time now. They now have a seperate page for the France/Norway/Blue Lady demolition photos. For those who love the old liners, it is not for the faint of heart!

The last image posted was taken in December of 2008, and it's barely recognizable as having ever been a ship.
 

Jim Kalafus

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The tip of the bow and a few other fragments were on public display in Paris last fall. I think that they were meant to be auctioned off, but if they wre the auction did not draw the same level of attention that their arrival did.
 
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Interesting. I wonder if anything will find its way into a permanent "art piece", or if the bits will have greater value as steel. Somehow, I think the nostalgia boom of the 70's and 80's has trickled to a near halt. It's both therapeutic and sad. Therapeutic, in that people get on with living and developing lives around improved technology. Sad in that something as architecturally lovely as the "France" should have been relegated to news clippings and post cards.
We tend to swear that wouldn't have happened to a preserved "Normandie", yet she too, would have been discarded, had not fate intervened.
 
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