At a recent meeting, the US City of Long Beach agreed to prepare to start critical repairs to the iconic ex transatlantic liner ‘Queen Mary’.
This month, the City will begin the first phase of the necessary repairs, which are anticipated to be completed later this year, allowing the ‘Queen Mary’ to reopen to the public.
“It is our responsibility to preserve the ‘Queen Mary’ and ensure this historic landmark is properly cared for,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “Now that the city has full oversight and control of the ‘Queen’, it’s important we make the critical repairs needed.”
The City Council regained control of the ‘Queen Mary’ for the first time in over 40 years in June, 2021. Since then, with the help of marine engineers and based on previous studies, the City designed the specifications and layouts for the required repairs and established key milestones for the project and an anticipated completion date.
The cost of the repairs were estimated to be around $5 mill. An initial funding of $2.5 mill was approved as part of the City’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget, utilising Tidelands Funds, with an additional funding request to be presented to the City Council in the coming months.
In December, 2021, the City received approval by the US State Lands Commission to use Tidelands funding, as required by State law, which cleared the way for work to begin this month.
One of the most critical repairs identified in the engineering reports was the removal of the deteriorated lifeboats. The lifeboats exert stress on the side shell of the ship, which has created severe cracks in the support systems.
By removing the deteriorated lifeboats, this will enhance the structural stability of the ship. The City has contracted Exbon Development to remove the lifeboats, two of which will be retained by the City for future preservation on the ship.
Thirteen original lifeboats will be taken off the ship and temporarily stored, while the City gauges interests from museums and other qualified non-profit organisations who may be interested in preserving a lifeboat.
Their removal is expected to take about two weeks, weather permitting.
In a separate contract, the City will install new permanent bilge pumps to discharge water intrusion in the event of an emergency. Additional improvements to the bulkhead, emergency generator and to the water intrusion warning system are also forthcoming.
These repairs are needed as a result of decades of deferred maintenance by former operators of the ship and are critical for its preservation, the City said.
Last month, the City made the repairs necessary to re-light one of the ship’s exhaust funnels, a skyline focal point that is illuminated by several spotlights positioned on deck. To ensure the safety of the electrical systems and proper functionality of the lights, repair work was undertaken to the surrounding circuits, the electrical timeclock and lighting fixtures.
“Addressing these critical repairs has been a long time coming and an effort that will greatly benefit the structural safety and historical preservation of the ’Queen Mary’,” said Long Beach First District Councilwoman, Mary Zendejas. “With the City now overseeing control of the ship, I am confident this year will bring tremendous progress towards protecting this historic feature of our community.”
‘Queen Mary’ will remain closed to the public until these repairs are completed but will continue to be available for filming, which helps generate revenue to support the ship’s operations.
In June, 2021 the former lessee, Urban Commons Queensway, surrendered its existing leases and filed a motion to formally reject the leases through its bankruptcy process.
The City’s Department of Economic Development oversees the financial agreements associated with the ‘Queen Mary’, while the Department of Public Works leads the physical repair and preservation efforts.
To keep the public informed, the City of Long Beach created a ’Queen Mary’ Updates webpage, which includes her economic impacts on the City, a historical overview, the City’s stance on preserving the historic integrity and structural safety of the ship and the City’s short- and long-term goals in the preservation process.