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Campaigners ask: Can the QE2 be saved?


This past week, Cunard celebrated its 175th anniversary, and stage a show of its Three Queens (Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2) in the Mersey at Liverpool. But one of its storied Queens was in distress, half a world away. The QE2, sold in 2008 to serve as a luxury hotel in Dubai, lies moldering at a pier, with no future plans.

Once the flagship of Cunard's fleet, QE2 was built at a point where trans-Atlantic crossings by ship had mostly given way to jets, and she was therefore built for both that trade and the cruise business—but she was a true liner, with a classic profile, unlike today's ships, including her Cunard successors, that look like a hotel strapped to a hull.

QE2 was sold in 2008 to Dubai World, and later to another company, but neither was able to complete the hotel project. In 2013, the engines were turned off and maintenance stopped; in the humid heat without ventilation mold has developed and other parts have suffered damage.

A campaign, backed in part by the Telegraph (UK) is determined to "rescue" the QE2 for service as either a cruise ship or a hotel, although some have said they'd rather have the ship scrapped than just left to rot. MORE.

Photo: Wikimedia / Nogginthenook


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A sad story, but not unusual.  People get attached to ships, maybe why they're called "she" instead of "it".   My son was in the Navy, on the magnificent aircraft carrier USS Ranger, CV61, one of several of that name, the first in 1777, commanded by John Paul Jones.  The end of his tour was also Ranger's last, after a voyage to the Persian Gulf for a goodbye battle.  Retired just afterward (1993) and stored in Bremerton, WA, I read yesterday that as I write this, Ranger is sailing under tow around South America, through the Straits of Magellan, to be cut up for scrap in Brownsville, Texas.  A recently retired Navy man said to me last night, "for razor blades", an expression used by Navy guys for the sad end of ships they love.  Ranger, too, had campaigners that called to make her a museum but were turned down by Navy.  Bye bye Ranger, bye bye QE2.

I read some years ago of extensive ship-breaking on the Bangladesh coast, where labor is cheap and regulations immense amount of dangerous work, but because the labor is cheap, the scrap profits are high, or higher than they would be if the cost of recovery were high.


Which leads me to wonder: what would be the economic value of that long tow to Brownsville as opposed to scrapping the ship on the West Coast? Ideas, anyone?

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

There must certainly be profit to the company, International Shipbreaking, that was paid 1 penny US by the Navy to tow Ranger to Texas where they do the work and, presumably, don't do in WA.  I toured Ranger but, even so, it's hard to comprehend the size of a ship where 6,000 men (and a few women) work and live, plus 2 decks for airplanes.  Lots of steel there, lots of razor blades.


I saw an amazing piece, probably on 60 Minutes, about the place in Bangladesh where the work you mention is done by men in flip flops.

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