Queen Mary was the largest ship in the world at
that time with the capacity to carry 776 1st, 784
2nd and 579 3rd class passengers. Her maiden voyage
from Southampton - Cherbourg and New York May 27th
1936 began the fiercest rivalry ever seen between
two liners. Queen Mary’s single gear
turbines were capable of 200,000 hp compared to her
rival Normandie’s turbo electric
machinery developing 160,000 hp. As
Normandie had a sleek new hull design, the
two ships had a similar top speed.
Before the British ship entered service, the
French Line was informed she exceeded 80,000 tons.
At that time, Normandie’s upper decks
were extended to allow her to regain the title of
the world’s largest ship. The redesign
increased Normandie’s volume from
79,280 - 83,000 tons.
Queen Mary took the Blue Riband on the
westbound route from Normandie in August
1936 by increasing the average speed from 29.98 to
30.14 knots. On her return crossing, she broke
Normandie’s record of 30.31 knots by
averaging 30.63 knots. Normandie increased
the records three times in 1937 with her best
average of 31.2 knots being set on an eastbound
crossing August 8th.
Queen Mary regained the westbound
record August 8th 1938 with an average speed of
30.99 knots. Six days later, she took the eastbound
record with a crossing of 3 days, 20 hours and 42
minutes, averaging 31.69 knots.
Normandie’s destruction during World
War Two allowed Queen Mary’s
records to go unchallenged until the arrival of the
liner United States 14 years