RMS Queen Mary
Launched in 1934, the RMS Queen Mary is the last remaining of the great North Atlantic ocean liners built in the 1930s. The vessel was built in Southampton, England by the Cunard Line company and sailed for the first time in 1936. Despite the effects of the Great Depression, the company made the Queen Mary as luxurious as possible. However, the Depression delayed construction a bit. During WWII, Queen Mary served as an American troop transport ship delivering American soldiers. She returned to passenger service after the war and sailed until 1967 when age and the onset of jet airplanes started to take over trans-Atlantic travel. She docked in Long Beach on December 9 of that year and was officially retired. Given her long and distinguished history, she was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. The ship is now operating as a hotel and museum along with other varieties of purposes.
Queen Mary arriving in New York in 1945 carrying soldiers home from World War II
Backstory and Context
Construction on the ship began in 1930 and it was conducted by the John Brown & Co. Shipyard. The Great Depression didn’t stop construction entirely, but it did put a halt to building the ship. The British Government gave out a loan to help move funding for construction to get everything back on track. However, one of the conditions to get the loan was for the main builders, Cunard, to merge with another coastal liner service, White Star Line. Both parties agreed on a merge and this happened in 1934.
The ship would be christened the Queen Mary, named after Mary of Teck, who was married to King George V and served as Queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions as well as the Empress of India. However, her name was closely kept a secret from the public. It was originally supposed to be named Victoria as Cunard had a tradition of naming ships with “-ia” endings. However, King George had given them permission to name the ship after his wife and said she would be delighted. That left Cunard-White Star Line no choice, but to name the ship Queen Mary.
Queen Mary herself launched the ship in 1934 and it was set to sail the open seas. The first-ever voyage was commanded by Sir Edgar Britten, who begun his career as a cabin boy. During World War II, the ship was a transport for many American troops and even took Winston Churchill to meetings with Allied Forces in other countries. In the 1966 film “Assault on a Queen,” the Queen Mary was featured as the main setting in the movie starring singer Frank Sinatra and Italian actress Virna Lisi. The ship was retired the following year from service as a coast liner.
The Queen Mary would be docked permanently in Long Beach, California, and would open as a tourist attraction to the public. The ship would also operate as a restaurant and museum later on. The Queen Mary closed operations in 1992 and the RMS Foundation Inc. decided to sign a five-year lease becoming the new owners of the ship. In February 1993, the ship would reopen to the public. The ship went through many owners over the years before landing their current ones, Urban Commons. The ship continues to operate as a museum and hotel, but can also be rented as a wedding venue for couples.
"Our Story: A Trip Across Time." The Queen Mary. Accessed May 16, 2014. http://www.queenmary.com/history/our-story.
Rubic, David. "R.M.S.Queen Mary." National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service. April 15, 1993. http://focus.nps.gov/GetAsset?assetID=c29268bb-2f70-4fdb-bd66-a013fbd8b834.