RMS Queen Mary is a retired ocean liner that sailed primarily in the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 for the Cunard Line (known as Cunard-White Star Line when the vessel entered service). Built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland, Queen Mary along with her running mate, the RMS Queen Elizabeth, were built as part of Cunard's planned two-ship weekly express service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New York City. The two ships were a British response to the superliners 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 in that role by Queen Elizabeth.
Queen Mary sailed on her maiden voyage on 27 May 1936 and captured the Blue Riband in August of that year; she lost the title to SS Normandie in 1937 and recaptured it in 1938, holding it until 1952 when she was beaten by the new SS United States. With the outbreak of World War II, she was converted into a troopship and ferried Allied 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 for which the two ships were initially built. The two ships dominated the transatlantic passenger transportation market until the dawn of the jet age in the late 1950s. By the mid-1960s Queen Mary was ageing 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. She left Southampton for the last time on 31 October 1967 and sailed to the port of Long Beach, California, United States, where she remains permanently moored. Much of the machinery including one of the two engine rooms, 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, and hotel. The ship is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has accepted the Queen Mary to be part of the Historic Hotels of America
Construction and namingEdit
With Germany launching Bremen and Europa into service, Britain did not want to be left behind in the shipbuilding race. White Star Line began construction on their 60,000 ton Oceanic 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", begin on December 1930 on the River Clyde by the John Brown & Company Shipbuilding and Engineering shipyard at Clydebank in Scotland. Work was halted in December 1931 due to the Great Depression 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 3 1⁄2 years and cost 3.5 million pounds sterling. Much of the ship's interior was designed and constructed by the Bromsgrove Guild. The ship was named after Queen Mary, consort of King George V. 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, 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, 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 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. Some support for the story was provided by Washington Post editor Felix Morley, who sailed as a guest of the Cunard Line on Queen Mary's 1936 maiden voyage. In his 1979 autobiography, For the Record, Morley wrote that he was placed at table with Sir Percy Bates, 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, 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.
There was already a Clyde turbine steamer named TS Queen Mary, so Cunard White Star reached agreement with the owners that the existing steamer would be renamed TS Queen Mary II, and in 1934 the new liner was launched by Queen Mary as RMS Queen Mary. On her way down the slipway, Queen Mary was slowed by eighteen drag chains, which checked the liner's progress into the Clyde, a portion of which had been widened to accommodate the launch.
When she sailed on her maiden voyage from Southampton, 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 80,774 gross tonnage (GT); her rival, Normandie, which originally grossed 79,280 tonnes, had been modified the preceding winter to increase her size to 83,243 GT (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's design was criticised for being too traditional, especially when Normandie's hull was revolutionary with a clipper shaped, streamlined bow. Except for her cruiser stern, she seemed to be an enlarged version of her Cunard predecessors from the pre World War I era. Her interior design, while mostly Art Deco, seemed restrained and conservative when compared to the ultramodern French liner. However, Queen Mary proved to be the more popular vessel than her larger rival, in terms of passengers carried. In August 1936, Queen Mary captured the Blue Riband from Normandie, with average speeds of 30.14 knots (55.82 km/h; 34.68 mph) westbound and 30.63 knots (56.73 km/h; 35.25 mph) eastbound. Normandie