The City of Long Beach is preparing to start critical repairs to the Queen Mary cruise ship, with anticipation that the historical landmark could be reopened to the public later this year. The ship is in a bad state of disrepair, and the full extent of repairs are estimated to cost $5 million.
Queen Mary Now Controlled by Long Beach
The City of Long Beach regained control of the anchored cruise ship in 2021, the first time in 40 years that she has been managed by the city. In June the former lessee, Urban Commons Queensway LLC, surrendered its existing leases and filed a motion to formally reject those leases through its bankruptcy process.
Previously, Queen Mary has been controlled by a variety of entities. The City of Long Beach first purchased the vessel for $3.45 million in 1967 as it was retired from what was then the Cunard Steamship Company. The ship was converted to a floating hotel, and through the years has been managed by the Port of Long Beach, Wrather Port Properties Corporation, Walt Disney Company, Delaware North Companies, and other organizations.
Today, the City’s Department of Economic Development oversees the financial agreements associated with the Queen Mary, while the Department of Public Works leads the physical repair and preservation efforts.
Ship to Be Preserved
Since taking over control of the ship, the City has coordinated with marine engineering experts and correlated previous studies to design the specifications and layouts for the required repairs to stabilize the ship and allow it to be reopened for visitors and overnight guests.
“It is our responsibility to preserve the Queen Mary and ensure this historic landmark is properly cared for,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a press release. “Now that the city has full oversight and control of the Queen, it’s important we make the critical repairs needed.”
One of the most critical repairs is the removal of deteriorated lifeboats. The lifeboats exert stress on the side shell of the ship, which has created severe cracks in the support system. Removing the lifeboats will enhance the structural stability of the ship and lessen further deterioration, though two lifeboats will be preserved for future display.
The remaining lifeboats may be available to museums and other qualified non-profit organizations, but those arrangements have not yet been made.
Additional repairs planned in upcoming months include installing new permanent bilge pumps to discharge water in the event of an emergency as well as improvements to the bulkhead, emergency generator, and the water intrusion warning system.
“Addressing these critical repairs has been a long time coming and an effort that will greatly benefit the structural safety and historical preservation of the Queen Mary,” said First District Councilwoman Mary Zendejas. “With the City now overseeing control of the ship, I am confident this year will bring tremendous progress towards protecting this historic feature of our community.”
In January, repairs were made to re-light one of the ship’s funnels, a familiar part of Long Beach’s skyline that is illuminated by several deck-mounted spotlights. To ensure the safety of the electrical systems and proper functionality of the lights, repair work was done to the surrounding circuits, the electrical timeclock, and lighting fixtures.
Why Queen Mary Matters
While most retired cruise ships eventually end up being scrapped, Queen Mary has enjoyed a profitable retirement in Long Beach. Annually, when open and available for guests and events, the ship supports more than 1,300 local jobs and brings more than $46 million in spending to the City of Long Beach.
In a typical year, Queen Mary will host more than 50 events, entertaining more than 360,000 guests and visitors for those events as well as hotel stays and ship tours.
Furthermore, the “Queen” has a rich and luxurious history since she first set sail on May 27, 1936. She served as an allied troop ship during World War II, and during her many years as a cruise liner, crossed the North Atlantic 1,000 times, carrying 2,112,000 passengers on elegant, memorable voyages.
The ship has been closed to guests since May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her deteriorating condition. It is hoped, however, with the new arrangement with the city and repairs already beginning, Queen Mary will soon be open again and giving guests a glimpse of the ocean liner’s former glory.