The Queen Mary Is At Risk Of Sinking Or Capsizing Within The Next Few Years

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Image for article titled The Queen Mary Is At Risk Of Sinking Or Capsizing Within The Next Few Years
Image: David McNew/Getty (Getty Images)

The Queen Mary has been an iconic staple of Long Beach and Southern California in general for over 50 years. Sitting in Long Beach Harbor, the old ocean liner (it’ll be 87 years this September since she was launched) has attracted thousands of tourists over the years with its hotel, attractions and various holiday events. All that could be gone soon. A report ordered up by the city of Long Beach details the extensive repairs needed to keep the Queen Mary afloat, according to the Long Beach Post. And no one knows who will pay for it.

The city, which owns the ship, hired naval architectural firm Elliott Bay Design Group to thoroughly inspect the ship from stem to stern. Their report concluded that $23 million is needed to keep the Queen Mary “viable” for the next few years. This is in addition to a report from 2017 that found the ship needed $235 million in repairs. Some of the problems, from the Long Beach Post:

  • The sewage holding tanks are compromised and not accessible under state health and safety guidelines. The piping system has leaks.
  • The hull has structural and watertight integrity issues and there is no working bilge system. This was listed as a critical issue to prevent flooding in the next two years. The “current status of bulkheads and lack of a functioning bilge pump system and flood alarm system could lead to flooding throughout the ship, potential capsizing of the ship and life safety and environmental issues to the extent that flooding occurred,” according to documents.
  • The emergency generator is not working and needs to be replaced. The boilers are not working and need to be replaced in order to provide heat and hot water throughout the hotel and for food services.
  • The “Spruce Goose” dome needs work to prevent structural integrity issues. This is critical since Carnival uses the dome for passenger loading at its terminal and plans to reopen for cruises later this year.

Even though the city owns the ship, it has been under the control of leaseholders responsible for upkeep and new business ideas. But bad luck seems to follow the ship, as every leaseholder who had “control” of the ship goes under. There have been three since the early ’90s. None of them exist anymore. The most recent is a locally based investment firm called Urban Commons.

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Illustration: Benoy/Urban Commons

At one point, Urban Commons seemed as though it would be the one to get things right. Signing a 66-year lease with the city in 2016, the firm planned a $250 million expansion called Queen Mary Island that would’ve consisted of entertainment and retail. But it never came to be and the firm filed bankruptcy in January, half a billion dollars in debt. Long Beach is working in court to make sure Urban Commons is responsible for the repairs.

Will the ship be saved? It’s up in the air. The ship’s lease was supposed to be auctioned off on May 21, but the city blocked the sale saying that Urban Commons is the one that should pay for the repairs since they held the lease last. This could get ugly, but something needs to happen fast, or there won’t ship worth saving.