March 22, 2013
Posted in: Special Guests
On 12 March 2013, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary met for the first time in a historical Cunard Royal Rendezvous at Long Beach, California. More than 3000 people watched as the celebration began with a series of whistle salutes between the two ships, before a spectacular fireworks display and fanfare. Everette Hoard, commodore of Queen Mary gave a narrative of the ships’ histories from the bridge of Queen Elizabeth during the event – this is what he read out…
My name is Everette Hoard and I am the Honorary Commodore of the Queen Mary. May I say what a privilege it is to be here with you to share this wonderful and historic experience, as Queen Elizabeth enters Long Beach water to pay her respects to the grand dame of the North Atlantic – RMS Queen Mary.
Queen Mary & her sister, the first Queen Elizabeth, were perhaps the most beloved ships since Noah’s Ark. One historian said they were the “Most celebrated craft on water since rafts came floating down the Tigris & Euphrates.” Their origins began way back in 1926 when then Cunard chairman, Sir Percy Bates, had envisioned an Express Service across the North Atlantic with just two ships.
They would be the largest and fastest ships in the world, but the smallest and slowest ships that could do the job at hand. Their dimensions were staggering– each being over 1000 feet in length, a gross tonnage of over 80,000 tons, and with 30 knot speed capabilities.
Queen Mary would come first, making her Maiden Voyage in May 1936. She would be the ship of choice with passengers and therefore one of the most profitable liners of the pre-war era.
She would also become the fastest ship on the North Atlantic, vying with the French Liner Normandie for speed supremacy and the Blue Riband of the Atlantic.
The Queens were built for the arts of peace, to act as a mighty loom weaving a tapestry of goodwill & understanding between the Old & New Worlds. However, in the grand scheme of things, their biggest contribution and gift to mankind was to deliver a million and a half military personnel around the globe in the Second World War to defend the freedoms we cherish today.
Winston Churchill said “The Queens Mary & Elizabeth challenged the furies of Hitlerism and without their contribution final Victory would have been postponed indefinitely.”
After the war, from 1947 to 1957, the glorious sisters Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth crisscrossed the North Atlantic on their appointed schedules many times sighting one another in mid ocean. This wonderful oceanic interlude was relished by passengers, captains, and crew alike for there was no finer sight than to witness the largest and most beautiful ships of that era in their natural element splashing the sea aside with a great bone in their teeth like thoroughbred Greyhounds. In the “Glory Days,” the Queens were the gold standard of ocean travel, literally paying for themselves every year.
The last time the two Sisters met was on 25 September 1967, in the small hours of the morning. Queen Mary, Eastbound and charging along at better than 28 knots was on her final transatlantic voyage in the Cunard service. In the cool, starlit, autumn darkness, Commodore Geoffrey Marr stood at attention on his flying bridge of the surging Westbound Queen Elizabeth; Captain Treasure Jones was in the same position on Queen Mary. As the two great Queens quickly closed on each other, the lights were flashed on, scattering the indigo Atlantic night in Cunard red; Porthole pearls were in regal array. Each captain doffed his hat as the mighty Tyfon whistles pierced a fantastic farewell salute.
So, it was the end of an era!
Or so we thought at that time.
The City of Long Beach California, with great fanfare and even an endorsement from Governor Ronald Reagan, purchased Queen Mary with a successful bid of $3.45 million dollars to become a hotel, maritime museum, and place for special events.
Leaving Southampton for the last time on October 31, 1967 with Captain Jones in command, Queen Mary embarked on her last ocean passage, an epic 39 day voyage of 14,500 miles with 1200 passengers onboard. It was called “The Last Great Cruise”.
Queen Mary arrived safely in Long Beach on December 9, 1967 to what must have been the finest reception for any ship in history.
She had an escort of nearly 5000 small craft. Captain Jones commented, “I could never imagine such a reception, I had no idea that so many small craft existed in any one area of the world”.
I stand here this evening not only with Captain Clark and his Officers who are all master mariners but with our pilot, Captain Mark Coynes of Jacobsen Pilot Services. It was a Pilot of this company that brought the majestic Queen Mary into Long Beach in 1967 as well as put her in her present location in 1971.
Always known as a happy & lucky ship among passenger & crew alike, Queen Mary’s compelling allure is unabated today. This brings to mind the prophesy spoken by well known English physic, Lady Mabel Fortescue-Harrison on the day of her launch in 1934 when she said, “Queen Mary will know her greatest fame & popularity when she never sails another mile or carries another fare paying passenger.” This has proven true as Queen Mary has been visited by countless millions since embarking upon her present role.
As a hotel and place for special events Queen Mary features much of her original décor. Known as “The Ship of Beautiful Woods,” her interiors are bathed in 56 different species of exotic wood veneers sewn from all over the British Empire. There are three award-winning restaurants, the Observation Bar which served as the inspiration for the Commodore’s Club in today’s Cunard fleet, a tea room, and 346 First Class staterooms including posh suites named after the famous travellers that once occupied them.
Possessing an almost tangible magic Queen Mary is said to be more than any other, “a ship with a soul.” Further underscoring the precious bond between Master & Mistress, Captain Jones would say of his beloved ship “She has character; she has personality, she even breathes. But above all else, she is the closest thing to a living being that I have ever commanded.”
Here we are nearly 77 years after Queen Mary’s maiden voyage and 45 years since Captain Jones sailed her triumphantly into Long Beach. We stand aboard Queen Elizabeth, the youngest Cunarder in the modern fleet, so elegantly appointed with every creature comfort imaginable, and so comfortable to travel in. I can say this first-hand as I have had the privilege to sail in the Queens of today.
Cunard’s renaissance is nothing short of remarkable. At the end of Queen Mary’s sea life, it was thought that the day of the big passenger ship was forever over. It seems in some ways, history does repeat itself. It certainly has for Cunard, who are again at the forefront of ocean travel.
Cunard now has one of the youngest fleets at sea: the magnificent flagship Queen Mary 2, the stunning Queen Victoria, and this lovely new Queen Elizabeth. These splendid new Queens capture the very essence and character of a bygone era with all the classic décor, pleasing textures and classic Cunard-White Star Service.
Tonight belongs to Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth, the most sanguine names in the history of mankind & the sea. Both old & new, long may they reign as the supreme expression of ocean travel.
To you, Queen Mary, the “Stateliest Ship now in being,”, we salute you, as you so proudly breast the ebb and flow.
To you, Queen Elizabeth, noble ship of the “Lion’s Cloth”, worthy successor to this beautiful name that is so much a legend of majesty on the Sea, we salute you.
On behalf of The City of Long Beach, Save the Queen, Evolution Hospitality and the entire Ships Company of the R.M.S. Queen Mary we send to Captain Clark, his officers, crew, and passengers, our most heartfelt welcome!!!
As Commodore of Queen Mary, may I send a special “thanks” to Peter Shanks, President of Cunard Line for this wonderful tribute. May you always have following winds to help your ships along.
I say this in the “Spirit of the Brotherhood of the Sea”
Long Live the Queens!!!
Thank you to Everette Hoard for sharing this amazing history with everyone at Long Beach. Here is a special video of the two Queens meeting for the first time…
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