RMS Queen Mary

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RMS Queen Mary liner launched in 1934, history and images.

CLASS

LINER

LAUNCHED

SEPTEMBER 26th 1934

BUILT

JOHN BROWN & CO / CLYDEBANK / SCOTLAND

WEIGHT

80,774 TONS

LENGTH

1,019 FEET

WIDTH

118 FEET

SPEED

29 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4 - 4 BLADE - 35 TON - 20 FEET DIAMETER

ENGINES

4 - SINGLE REDUCTION STEAM TURBINES - 200,000 HP

The keel plates were laid for Cunard’s Queen Mary December 27th 1930. With the economic depression continuing into the 1930s, Cunard was forced to suspend all work on their ship in 1931. These hard times for the shipping industry led to the British Government trying to persuade the Cunard and White Star lines to merge rather than compete against each other. With the two companies nearing bankruptcy, and the government offering subsidies if they merged, the Cunard and White Star lines reached an agreement to join their services in December 1933, this leading to work on Queen Mary resuming April 3rd 1934.

RMS Queen Mary image


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 later.

Queen Mary liner image
Queen Mary at Long Beach serving as a hotel and museum, Closer Image.

At the outbreak of World War Two, Queen Mary was painted gray in New York before setting out for Sydney/Australia to be converted to a troopship. After transporting Australian troops to the war in Africa, she was used to carry American troops to Britain. On one voyage alone, she carried around 16,000 servicemen from New York - Gourock in Scotland. Her only incident during the war was when she rammed and sunk her escort, the British cruiser Curacoa. There were only 26 survivors from the warships crew of over 300.

Queen Mary Long Beach image
Queen Mary bow from the bridge, Large Image of inside the bridge.

Queen Mary’s return to Cunard in 1947 saw her operated between the Atlantic run and cruising over the following 20 years. She was retired September 19th 1967 after completing 1,001 Atlantic crossings.

Queen Mary set out on her final voyage from Southampton - California October 31st 1967. With her being too large to pass through the Panama Canal, she had to travel around the Cape of Good Hope. Queen Mary’s arrival at California December 9th allowed her ownership to be officially transferred to the City of Long Beach. She has since served as a museum and hotel.

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