November 12, 2008
We Are Cunard
Posted in: Queen Mary 2
Look out for some special upcoming Blogs including the emotional send off of QE2. Also coming up is the TOGs (Terry’s old Geezers and Gals) voyage on Queen Victoria. Last week, along with my Cunard colleagues Richard Curtis, and Matthew Elgie, I was invited to join the launch of the “Bandaged” CD with Sir Terry Wogan at the BBC in London. I would like to take a moment to plug this CD which features many names from Radio 2 who gave up their time for this extremely worthwhile cause. You can find out more by following this link
From this you can click on the links to find out more about BBC’s “Children In Need” (BBC 1 – Friday 14th November), and the incredible work done for youngsters.
We then put the final touches to the 12 day TOGS voyage on Queen Victoria departing 17 November from Athens, which promises to be an amazing voyage. I’ll be on board and will be sending reports from the voyage and what the Radio 2 stars are up to along with their TOGs.
Before I get in to this special blog, I just wanted to answer a comment from Rob Lightbody regarding the “This Day In Cunard’s History” about QE2’s funnel being repainted red during the 1986 refit. Rob pointed out that that although the funnel was widened and reconstructed at this time it was in fact repainted red in 1983. However we have consulted our Oracle (Michael Gallagher) on such matters and according to him it was in fact repainted even earlier – in August 1982.
Meanwhile quite a few of you have been asking about Queen Mary 2’s dry dock which is currently taking place in Hamburg. She is currently docked at dry dock ELBE 17 of Blohm + Voss Repair, a company of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. I’ve been to this dry dock a couple of times and when Queen Mary 2 is there she provides a stunning back drop to the city drawing an incredible amount of visitors photographing the ship from the other side of the river Elbe. This is a picture I took on her last dry dock which shows how imposing she is.
Thanks Jerry for your link, we asked another Jerry if he would give us a report on what was happening and what a ship is like during the dry dock period. In addition to a freshen up of some public areas including the Chart Room we are also installing mobile technology to enable mobile phones to be used whilst at sea. A special coat of extremely high tech paint is also being applied to the ship’s hull – this is a state of the art low friction paint that will enable Queen Mary 2 to slide through the sea with a minimum of effort, thus helping to conserve fuel. Especially important during this time of unpredictable oil prices when there is a greater need than ever to operate efficiently!
Some of you may remember Jeremy Saltonstall as the Second Officer who did such a great job in presenting the Virtual Bridge Tour ( A lecture in the Theatre detailing the day to day operation of the ship’s navigational bridge), on Queen Mary 2 and during the first few voyages on Queen Victoria. Here is Jerry’s report:
For me, a normal day on Queen Mary 2 is to carry out a watch on the bridge either at sea or in port. However it is always a rare occasion to be on watch whilst she is in dry dock. I have been involved with Queen Mary 2 since she was built back in 2003 in St Nazaire, France where I got to experience the whole building and start up operation of this fine liner. I was also involved in the building and start up of Queen Victoria in 2007 in Marghera, Italy. Seeing these vessels taking shape has been an interesting part of my life and I feel proud to be a part of history in the making.
Queen Mary 2 has been in service now for five years, and what a life she has had so far. As we departed Southampton for Hamburg on 22nd October we bid farewell to the most famous ocean liner in the world, Queen Elizabeth 2. As we passed her at berth 38/9, there was an exchange of whistles and a lot of emotion. The privilege of sounding the whistles was given to Sheena, one of our housekeepers, who had served on QE2 for many years.
On arrival in Hamburg we waited for the right tide before slowly edging the ship in to Elbe 17 dry dock at the Bhlom and Voss repair yard. Once in position the dock gate was closed behind us and it wasn’t long before you could notice the water levels were starting to drop. At 14:00 on 25th October, Queen Mary 2 was confirmed that she was resting on the blocks, where she would stay for 3 weeks. Before all the water had been pumped out of the dry dock, there was a mad rush to get the lifeboats and tenders lowered to the water, sent to the aft end of the dock, lifted over the dock gate, and driven round to another part of the ship yard where they were lifted out again into a large car park to have maintenance carried out on them. By the time we had finished the operation, the water level was already down two thirds of the vessels hull. It was here where you could see the amount of wear and tear that the hull of the ship had experienced. A large coat of fine green seaweed coated the areas just below the water line. As the water level continued to drop, the smell of seaweed dominated the whole area around the ship, the kind of smell that you would normally get when the tide was out in a port. Gangways were connected in various shell doors around the ship and equipment, spare and new parts were already being lifted on board.
It was midnight the next day before the dry dock was completely dry. Queen Mary 2 sat there, looking almost lost without any water around her, in a way like a stranded whale. The next day I went down into the dock bottom to see for myself the condition of the hull. All in all it was in a very good condition, ok it was very dirty, but the coatings were all intact and the amount of seaweed on the flat bottom of the hull was minimal.
We are now well over half way through the dry dock here in Hamburg and I am on the night watch between Midnight and 8am. The weather is cold everyday but the heating has remained on at all times to keep us warm. At night the fog roles up the river and Queen Mary 2 sits quietly in her dock. It’s a spooky scene, especially after just celebrating Halloween, as the fog moves around the ship at night without the sound of the fog horn going, like it would be at sea. Fog is normally an annoying thing for us on the bridge when underway but here in dry dock it’s nice to just watch role on by each night. Each day I walk around I see new items in place, it does seem extremely weird where all the shelves in places like the spa and shops are empty. There are no bottles on the shelves in the bars. All the chairs and deck chairs have been removed, the pools are empty, carpets are covered with protection, most of the elevators are shut down, and half the crew are missing! It’s certainly not what you would call a normal operating ocean liner.
The workers in the shipyard are very friendly and doing a great job in getting the vessel ready for sailing. All the maintenance is going to plan and we hope to be off the blocks and leaving the repair yard bound for Southampton on 13 November with the Cunard Queen looking, like she always does,……..Amazing!