During my freshman year at CSULB I took a theater class in which I was required to see several plays. These plays took place at the Royal Theater on the Queen Mary. I always knew what the Queen Mary was, but seeing her there docked and refurbished to work as a tourist attraction rather than an ocean liner made me curious to the history behind her.
The Queen Mary was constructed in 1930 by John Brown and Company in Scotland and commissioned by Cunard Steamship Company. However, she didn’t make her maiden voyage until 1936 when she departed out of England. It was initially intended to be named the Queen Victoria but the current king (King George) instead reportedly suggested the Queen Mary be named after his wife when asked for his blessing on the name. The Queen Mary was the top of the line in luxury in the 1930’s and even held a speed record for 14 years. However, the Queen Mary wasn’t a passenger ship for long. In 1939 after docking in New York, the Queen Mary was refurbished as a military passenger ship being able to transport 16,000 troops at 30 knots, the largest and fastest at that time. Not only was the ship refurbished, but the ship was christened a new name and dubbed the “Grey Ghost” due to her grey camouflage. However, in 1947 the ship was retrofitted and returned to civilian passengers. The Queen Mary sailed for 2 more decades until she was sold. Her final voyage took place in 1967 and ended in Long Beach where she has been docked ever since.
The Queen Mary was the largest and fastest ship of her time. Due to this, there has been many comparisons to the Titanic. The Queen Mary website actually has a full chart comparing the two. According to the website, the Queen Mary was about 200 feet longer and weighed 35 more tons with quarter inch thicker plates and was still able to travel nearly ten knots faster. The Queen Mary was obviously a monster of a ship, and stacks up surprisingly well to The Queen Mary 2 (built in 2002). The Queen Mary 2 is about 100 feet longer while weighing about 70 more tons (105 more than the titanic), yet she produces less horsepower and travels at the same speed. However, the fuel consumption is much better and she can carry nearly 1000 more passengers. However, after all this is said and done, the original Queen Mary is nearly as large as the newer ship although she is 70 years older. That fact, as well as the fact that the Queen Mary is in such good shape, is testament to how well built she was.
Since the Queen Mary’s docking in Long Beach in 1967, she has been converted to a full hotel including three restaurants and a theater. However, the workers are constantly making repairs and refurbishing the Queen Mary in order to keep her in the best shape possible. This is fortunate due to the high prominence the Queen Mary carries and what an important icon she has become. The fact that the Queen Mary is now 80 years old and still going strong baffles me. The construction was done so amazingly well. The Queen Mary is testament to what mankind is capable of, and if we could do that 80 years ago, I’m curious to know what giant creation is next.