This Day in History, Jan. 12: Maiden Voyage of World’s Largest Ocean Liner, RMS Queen Mary 2 (2004)

Maiden Voyage of World’s Largest Ocean Liner, RMS Queen Mary 2 (2004)

 

RMS Queen Mary 2 (also referred to as the QM2) is a transatlantic ocean liner. She is the largest passenger ship built for the Cunard Line since Queen Elizabeth 2 in 1969, the vessel she succeeded as flagship of the line.[9] As of 2019, Queen Mary 2 is the only passenger ship operating as an ocean liner.[10]

The new ship was named Queen Mary 2 by Queen Elizabeth II in 2004 after the first RMS Queen Mary of 1936. Queen Mary was in turn named after Mary of Teck, consort of King George V. With the retirement of Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2008, Queen Mary 2 is the only transatlantic ocean liner in line service between Southampton, England, and New York City, United States, operating for a part of each year. The ship is also used for cruising, including an annual world cruise.[11]

She was designed by a team of British naval architects led by Stephen Payne, and was constructed in France by Chantiers de l’Atlantique. At the time of her construction, Queen Mary 2 held the distinctions of being the longest, at 1,131.99 ft (345.03 m), and largest, with a gross tonnage of 148,528 GT, passenger ship ever built. She no longer holds this distinction after the construction of Royal Caribbean International’s 154,407 GT Freedom of the Seas in April 2006, but remains the largest ocean liner ever built.

Queen Mary 2 was intended for routine crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, and was therefore designed differently from many other passenger ships. The liner’s final cost was approximately $300,000 US per berth. Expenses were increased by the high quality of materials, and having been designed as an ocean liner, she required 40% more steel than a standard cruise ship.[12] Queen Mary 2 has a maximum speed of just over 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) and a cruising speed of 26 knots(48 km/h; 30 mph), much faster than a contemporary cruise ship. Instead of the diesel-electric configuration found on many ships, Queen Mary 2 uses integrated electric propulsion to achieve her top speed. Diesel engines, augmented by gas turbines, are used to generate electricity for electric motors for propulsion and for on-board use.

Some of Queen Mary 2‘s facilities include fifteen restaurants and bars, five swimming pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theatre, and the first planetarium at sea.

Characteristics

Queen Mary 2 is the flagship of Cunard Line. The ship was constructed for eventual replacement of the aging Queen Elizabeth 2, the Cunard flagship from 1969 to 2004 and the last major ocean liner built before the construction of Queen Mary 2Queen Mary 2 had the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) title conferred on her by Royal Mail when the ship entered service in 2004 on the Southampton to New York route, as a gesture to Cunard’s history.[13]

Queen Mary 2 is not a steamship like many of her predecessors, but is powered primarily by four diesel engines, with two additional gas turbines used when extra power is required; this integrated electric propulsion configuration is used to produce the power to drive her four electric propulsion pods as well as powering the ship’s hotel services.[14] The spaces for these prime movers are also split, and controls are also backed up, with the intention of preventing a single failure from disabling the ship.[15]

Like her predecessor Queen Elizabeth 2 she is built for crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and also is regularly used for cruising. In the winter season she cruises from New York to the Caribbean on twelve- or thirteen-day tours. Queen Mary 2‘s 30-knot (56 km/h; 35 mph) open ocean speed sets the ship apart from cruise ships, such as MS Oasis of the Seas, which has a service speed of 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h; 26.0 mph); Queen Mary 2‘s normal service speed is 26 knots (48 km/h; 30 mph).[14] While the hull of a cruise ship will typically have a block coefficient of 0.73 (1.0 would represent a rectangular block) Queen Mary 2 is more fine-lined, with a block coefficient of 0.61.[15]

Design and construction

Cunard completed a design for a new class of 84,000 GT, 2,000 passenger liners on 8 June 1998, but revised them upon comparing those specifications with Carnival Cruise Line’s 100,000 GT Destiny-class cruise ships and Royal Caribbean International’s 137,276 GT Voyager class.[16]

In December 1998, Cunard released details of Project Queen Mary, the project to develop a liner that would complement Queen Elizabeth 2. Harland and Wolff of Northern Ireland, Aker Kværner of Norway, Fincantieri of Italy, Meyer Werft of Germany, and Chantiers de l’Atlantique of France were invited to bid on the project. The contract was finally signed with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, a subsidiary of Alstom, on 6 November 2000. This was the same yard that built Cunard’s former rivals, the SS Normandie and SS Franceof the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique.[16]

Her keel was laid down on 4 July 2002, in the construction dock at Saint-Nazaire, France, with the hull number G32. Approximately 3,000 craftsmen spent around eight million working hours on the ship, and around 20,000 people were directly or indirectly involved in her design, construction, and fitting out. In total, 300,000 pieces of steel were assembled into 94 “blocks” off the dry dock, which were then stacked and welded together to complete the hull and superstructure.[17] After floating out on 21 March 2003, the Queen Mary 2 was fitted out in the large fitting out basin (“Bassin C”), the first ship to use this huge dry dock since the shipyard built large tankers in the 1970s, such as the MV Gastor. Her sea trials were conducted during 25–29 September and 7–11 November 2003,[18] between Saint-Nazaire and the offshore islands of Île d’Yeu and Belle-Île.[citation needed]The final stages of construction were marred by a fatal accident on 15 November 2003, when a gangway collapsed under a group of shipyard workers and their relatives who had been invited to visit the vessel. In total, 32 people were injured and 16 were killed, after a 15-metre (49 ft) fall into the drydock.[19]

Construction was completed on schedule.[citation needed] On 22 December 2003, Queen Mary 2 left Saint-Nazaire and arrived in Southampton, England, on 26 December 2003.[20] On 8 January 2004, the liner was officially named by Queen Elizabeth II.[21][22]

Exterior

Queen Mary 2‘s principal naval architect was Carnival’s in-house designer, Stephen Payne.[23] Payne intended many aspects of the ship’s design to resemble notable aspects of former ocean liners, such as Queen Elizabeth 2 and the ship’s predecessor Queen Mary. These features include the three thick black lines that wrap around either edge of the ship’s bridge screen, and at the stern end of the superstructure, which are to recall the appearance of the crossovers of the forward decks on the first Queen Mary.[24]

Queen Mary 2 has 14,164 square metres (152,460 sq ft) of exterior deck space, with wind screens to shield passengers as the ship travels at high speeds. Three of the ship’s four swimming pools are outdoors. One of the pools on Deck 12 is covered with a retractable magrodome. The indoor pool is on Deck 7, in the Canyon Ranch Spa Club.

In common with liners such as RMS Queen Mary, there is a continuous wrap-around promenade deck on Deck 7. The promenade passes behind the bridge screen and allows passengers to completely circumnavigate the deck while protected from the winds. One circuit of the promenade is a distance of 620 m (2,030 ft). The flanking promenades are created by the need to step the superstructurein, to allow for space for lifeboats. By SOLAS standards, the lifeboats should have been lower on the ship’s hull (15 m (49 ft) above the waterline), but for the sake of Queen Mary 2‘s appearance as well as to avoid the danger of large North Atlantic waves damaging the boats in a storm, Payne convinced SOLAS officials to exempt Queen Mary 2 from this requirement, and the boats are 25 m (82 ft) above the waterline.[25]

Payne’s initial intent was to make the ship’s stern profile with a spoon shape, similar to that on most previous ocean liners, but the mounting of the propeller pods required a flat transom. The compromise was a Constanzi stern – a combination of the two; the Constanzi stern provides the transom required for azimuthal pod propulsors and has better seaholding characteristics in a following swell than a standard transom stern.[26] In common with many modern ships, both passenger and cargo, Queen Mary 2 has a bulbous bow to reduce drag and thereby increase speed, range, and fuel efficiency.[27]

While of a design similar to that of Queen Elizabeth 2Queen Mary 2‘s funnel has a slightly different shape, because a taller funnel would have made it impossible for the ship to pass under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City at high tide. The final design permits a minimum of 13 feet (4.0 m) of clearance under the bridge.[28]

As Queen Mary 2 is too large to dock in many ports, passengers are ferried to and from the ship in tenders, which can be used as lifeboats in an emergency. These are stored while at sea in davits alongside the lifeboats. To transport passengers to shore the tenders pull up to one of four loading stations, each of which has a large hull door that hydraulically opens outwards to form a boarding platform, complete with railings and decking.[14]

Queen Mary 2 is a post-Panamax ship. As a result, Queen Mary 2 must circumnavigate South America to cross directly between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The decision not to constrain her height to transit the Panama Canal was taken as Queen Elizabeth 2 only transited once a year, during the world cruise. Cunard decided to pass up the convenience of the occasional passage in favour of a greater passenger capacity.[29]

Interior

As is the case with many modern passenger ships, many of the major public rooms on board Queen Mary 2 are on the lowest public decks of the ship, with the passenger cabins stacked above.[30] This is the opposite of the traditional practice on ocean liners, but the design allowed for larger rooms to be contained within the stronger hull, as well as for more passenger cabins to have private balconies higher up on the ship, where they are less affected by large waves.[citation needed] Payne attempted to create a central axis to the two main public room decks (similar in fashion to the Normandie), but a full vista is broken by various public rooms that span the full beam of the ship.[citation needed] The dining rooms were placed further aft, though not directly at the stern, where the fore-and-aft pitching of the ship is most noticeable, and might cause discomfort to dining passengers.[citation needed]

Deck 2, the lowest passenger deck, contains the Illuminations theatre, cinema and planetarium (the first at sea);[31] Royal Court Theatre; Grand Lobby; “Empire Casino”; “Golden Lion Pub”; and the lower level of the “Britannia Restaurant”. Deck 3 holds the upper levels of “Illuminations”, the “Royal Court theatre” and the “Britannia Restaurant”, as well as a small shopping arcade, “Veuve Cliquot champagne bar”, the “Chart Room”, “Sir Samuel’s” wine bar, the “Queen’s Room”, and the “G32” Nightclub. The other main public deck is Deck 7, on which are the “Canyon Ranch Spa”, “Carinthia Lounge”, “King’s Court”, the “Queen’s Grill Lounge”, and the “Queen’s Grill” and “Princess Grill” restaurants for higher-fare passengers. The public rooms on Deck 8 include the à la carte “Verandah Restaurant” an 8,000-volume library[32] (the largest of any cruise ship[33]), a book shop and the upper part of the Canyon Ranch Spa. Also on Deck 8 is a large outdoor pool and terrace at the stern.[30] The kennels, located aft on starboard side of Deck 12, are available only for transatlantic crossings. They can accommodate up to twelve dogs and cats in six small and six large cages.[34]

The King’s Court area on the ship is open twenty four hours a day, serving as a buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The overall space is divided into quarters, with each section decorated according to the theme of the four separate alternate dining venues that are “created” each evening through lighting, tableware, and menus: Lotus, which specialises in Asian cuisine; the Carvery, a British style grille; La Piazza, with Italian food; and the Chef’s Galley, which offers an interactive experience to food preparation.[35][36]

The passengers’ dining arrangements on board are dictated by the type of accommodation in which they choose to travel. Around 85% of passengers are in Britannia class, and, therefore, dine in the main restaurant. However, passengers can choose to upgrade to either a “junior suite”, and dine in the “Princess Grill”‘, or a suite, and dine in the “Queens’ Grill”.[37][38] Those in the two latter categories are grouped together by Cunard as “Grill Passengers”, and they are permitted to use the “Queens’ Grill Lounge” and a private outdoor area on deck 11 with its own whirlpool.[30][39] This feature is also present on both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth. However, all other public areas can be used by all passengers.[40]

As the Britannia Restaurant takes up the full width of the ship on two decks, a ‘tween deck, called Deck 3L, was devised to allow passengers to walk from the Grand Lobby to the Queen’s Room without traversing the dining room mid-meal. The deck consists of two corridors that run beneath the upper balcony of the restaurant on Deck 3, and above the main dining area on Deck 2. This is why the balcony of the Britannia has tiers that step up towards the hull. This arrangement is illustrated on the hull where there is a stack of three rows of windows in the area where the main restaurant sits, the two upper and lower most rows illuminate the dining room, while the centre row serves Deck 3L. There is a similar arrangement through the Royal Court Theatre. As well, the passages that run on either side of Illuminations on Deck 3 ramp upwards to compensate for the change in deck elevation between the entrance to Illuminations and an elevator bank forward of the room.[30]

More than 5000 commissioned works of art are visible in Queen Mary 2‘s public rooms, corridors, staterooms and lobbies, having been created by 128 artists from sixteen different countries.[41] Two of the most notable pieces are Barbara Broekman’s tapestry, an abstract depiction of an ocean liner, bridge, and New York skyline which spans the full height of the Britannia Restaurant, and the British sculptor John McKenna’s sheet bronze relief mural in the Grand Lobby, a 7 m square portrait of the ship fabricated in bronze inspired by the Art Deco mural in the main dining room of the original Queen Mary.[42]

Technical

Power plant and propulsion system

Queen Mary 2‘s power plant comprises four sixteen-cylinder Wärtsilä 16V46CR EnviroEngine marine diesel engines, generating a combined 67,200 kW (90,100 hp) at 514 rpm, and two General Electric LM2500+ gas turbines, which together provide a further 50,000 kW (67,000 hp), all of which is converted into electricity used to power electric motors that drive the propellers. Such an arrangement, known as integrated electric propulsion (IEP), provides for economical cruising at low speed combined with an ability to sustain much higher speeds when required, and has been common in naval vesselsfor some time.[14] While Queen Mary 2 is the first passenger ship to feature IEP propulsion, the first major passenger vessel to be powered by gas turbines was the Finnish ferry GTS Finnjet in 1977.[43]

Thrust is provided by four Rolls-Royce Mermaid azimuth thruster type podded propulsion units,[44][45] each featuring one forward-facing low-vibration propeller with separately bolted blades. The forward pair of thrusters is fixed, but the aft pair can swivel through 360°, removing the need for a rudder.[14] The Queen Mary 2 is the first quadruple-propeller passenger ship completed since the SS France in 1961.[46] Queen Mary 2 carries eight spare blades on the foredeck, immediately forward of the bridge screen.[citation needed]

Because Queen Mary 2‘s propulsion machinery is electrically decoupled from her propellers, her propulsion arrangement may arguably be more accurately described as “CODLAG electric” (by analogy with turbo-electric and diesel-electric);[citation needed] however “integrated electric propulsion” is the term of art. The diesel engines and gas turbines drive electric generators, which provide the power to drive four 21,500 kW (28,800 hp) Alstom electrical motors located inside the podded propulsors (and thus entirely outside the vessel’s hull).[14] Unusually, Queen Mary 2‘s gas turbines are not housed along with her diesels in the engine room deep in her hull, but instead are in a soundproofed enclosure directly beneath the funnel. This arrangement allowed the vessel’s designers to supply the oxygen-hungry turbines with air intakes without having to run air ducts the height of the ship, which would have wasted valuable interior space.[14]

In addition to the primary thrusters, the ship is also fitted with three bow thrusters, with a power output of 3.2 MW each. These allow the ship to turn in its own length while in port, to conduct more complex docking manoeuvres.[14]

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