RMS Queen Elizabeth 2

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RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in Southampton Water, 2007
Owner: 2008–present: Nakheel Properties
1967–2008: Cunard Line
Operator: 1967–2008: Cunard Line
Port of registry: 2009–present: Port Vila  Vanuatu
1967–2009: Southampton  United Kingdom
Route: North Atlantic and Cruising
Ordered: 1964
Builder: John Brown and Company, Clydebank, Scotland
Cost: £29,091,000 (£ as of 2011)
Laid down: 5 July 1965
Launched: 20 September 1967
Christened: 20 September 1967
 by Queen Elizabeth II
Completed: 26 November 1968 (Sea trials commenced)
Acquired: By Nakheel, 27 November 2008
Maiden voyage: 2 May 1969
In service: 1969–2008
Out of service: 27 November 2008
Identification: Callsign GBTT (while registered in UK)
Fate: Partly laid up in Port Rashid, as of April 2010
Status: Retired since 27 November 2008
General characteristics
Type: Ocean liner
Displacement: 48,923 (loaded)
Decks: 12
Installed power: 9 x 10,625 kW at 400 rpm
Propulsion: 9 MAN B&W 9-cylinder medium speed diesel electric generators. Two GEC Propulsion motors linked to 2-five bladed variable pitch propellers
Speed: Maximum Recorded:,
Going astern (figures recorded during sea trials post powerplant replacement, normal service speed 28.5 knots).
Maximum Usual Cruising Speed:.
Capacity: 1,777 passengers
1,892 (all berths) passengers
Crew: 1,040 officers and crew
Notes: In Dubai with an uncertain future

RMS Queen Elizabeth 2, often referred to simply as the 'QE2', is an ocean liner that was operated by Cunard from 1969 to 2008. Following her retirement from cruising, she is now owned by Nakheel (a division of Dubai World). She was designed to primarily run a transatlantic service from her homeport of Southampton, England, to New York, USA, and was named after the earlier Cunard liner (see Name section), and served as the flagship of the line from 1969 until succeeded by in 2004. Designed in Cunard's then-headquarters and regional offices in Liverpool and Southampton respectively, and built in Clydebank, Scotland, she was considered the last of the great transatlantic ocean liners until the construction of the QM2 was announced.

Before she was refitted with a diesel power plant in 1986/87, QE2 was also the last oil fired passenger steamship to cross the Atlantic in scheduled liner service. During almost forty years of service, the QE2 undertook regular world cruises and latterly operated predominantly as a cruise ship, sailing out of Southampton, England. QE2 had no identical sister ship or running mate and never ran a year round weekly transatlantic express service to New York. QE2 did, however, continue the Cunard tradition of regular scheduled transatlantic crossings every year of her service life.

QE2 retired from active Cunard service on 27 November 2008, where it was planned for her to begin conversion to a floating hotel which would have seen her eventually moored at the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.[1] However, as of December 2010 she remains moored at Port Rashid awaiting an uncertain future.[2]


The ship has a and is 963 ft (294 m) long. She has a top speed of using her original steam turbine powerplant, which was increased to when the vessel was re-engined with a diesel electric powerplant.[3][4][5]

Concept and construction

By the mid 1960s transatlantic travel was dominated by air travel due to its speed and low cost relative to the sea route, and expansion of air travel showed no signs of slowing down. Conversely, the and Queen Elizabeth were becoming increasingly expensive to operate, and both internally and externally were relics of the pre-war years. Cunard did not want to give up the business of passenger service, and so gambled $80 million on a new ocean liner to replace the original ageing Queens.[6]

Realising the decline of transatlantic trade, and the rising costs of fuel and labour, Cunard decided their new ship had to be smaller and cheaper to operate than her predecessors; the design requirements of the new ship were that she was to run at the same service speed of as the previous Queens, use half the fuel of the older ships, operate with a reduced number of staff compared to the Elizabeth and Mary, the new vessel would also be of Panamax capacity and draw seven foot less draft to allow her to enter ports that the old Queens could not, which were two major disadvantages the old Queens had over the newer generation of cruise ships.[6]

Originally designated Q4 (a previous ship design Q3 had been abandoned due to falling passenger revenues on the North Atlantic),[7] she was to be a three class liner. However, looking to the France, designs were changed to make Q4 a two class liner that could be modified into a single class cruise ship, thereby allowing the ship to ply the Atlantic during the peak summer season, as well as cruise the warmer waters during the winter.[8]

The Queen Elizabeth 2 was built by the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in the John Brown Shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. Her keel was laid down on 5 July 1965, as hull number 736 in the same plot that had been used to build iconic liners such as , , Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. She was launched and named on 20 September 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II, using the same pair of gold scissors her mother and grandmother used to launch the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary, respectively.[8] On 19 November 1968 she left John Brown's fitting out berth,[9] and travelled down the River Clyde to the Firth of Clyde Dry Dock at Inchgreen, Greenock, for final trials and commissioning.[10] After sea trials in the Irish Sea a "Shakedown cruise" to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria set out on 22 April 1969.[9]

Early career

The Queen Elizabeth 2's maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York City, commenced on 2 May 1969,[9] taking 4 days, 16 hours and 35 minutes. However, Prince Charles was the first "civilian" passenger to board the ship,[7] on her voyage from the shipyard in Clydebank to drydock in Greenock. On board for the short journey was her Master Designate and first captain, William (Bil) Warwick. In 1971, she participated in the rescue of some 500 passengers from the burning French Line ship .[3][9]

On 17 May 1972, while travelling from New York to Southampton, she was the subject of a bomb threat.[7] She was searched by her crew, and the United Kingdom's Special Boat and Air Service team parachuted into the sea to conduct a search of the ship. No bomb was found, but the hoaxer was arrested by the FBI.[3]

The following year the QE2 undertook two chartered cruises through the Mediterranean to Israel in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the state's founding. One kitchen on the ship was koshered for Passover, and Jewish passengers were able to celebrate Passover on the ship.