The saga of the Queen Mary drama continues. The newest issue isn’t with the ship itself, but with the submarine berthed next to it. The Long Beach Post reports that Soviet sub B-247, also known as Scorpion, is in such disrepair that it runs the risk of sinking or rolling into the Queen Mary.
The 1970s Soviet sub (no relation to America’s USS Scorpion that sank in 1968) was decommissioned in ‘94. After changing owners a few times, it was bought by a Palm Springs socialite for $970,000 and relocated to Long Beach where it was surrounded by a concrete wall in the harbor. It opened as a museum in July 1998, as the LA Times reported:
Commissioned in 1972 by the Soviet government during the height of the Cold War, Scorpion was used to search and track enemy forces in the Pacific. Its nuclear-tipped torpedoes could destroy a port or battle group.
The 300-foot-long sub, weighing 2,000 tons, had a 22-year career before it was decommissioned by the Russian Navy in 1994 and purchased by an Australian company that displayed it in Sydney. From there, it was towed by a semi-submersible tugboat to Long Beach.
The LA Times found particular interest in a group of Russian tourists seeing the sub:
Scorpion has been popular among kids and adults alike, and it has caught the eye of Russian tourists. Those who visit Scorpion say they had never before seen a real submarine. As odd as it may seem, they say they are learning more about the Soviet fleet in the U.S. than they did in their homeland.
“It’s strange because I came to America to see things like Disneyland, but now I see something from Russia,” said Andrew Zaginov, 16, who visited the exhibit with a group of 50 Russian exchange students. “It’s funny to see Russian words in America and to see a film with our language in America.”
No one has been taking care of it, and it’s been closed to visitors since 2015. Over the years, the Queen Mary and the Scorpion’s fates have been intertwined, both with operators neglecting maintenance on them. It’s a confusing history.
In 2016 the sub’s owners at the time, Newco Pty Ltd. filed a lawsuit against the operator of the Queen Mary, Save The Queen LLC, and the now bankrupt leaseholder Urban Commons of neglecting maintenance on the sub. $10 million in damages was sought with an inspection finding rust damage and even a raccoon infestation. This was all on top of outcry against Urban Commons plans at the time of removing the sub completely for a redevelopment project.
Now the City of Long Beach doesn’t want to deal with it and no one knows who’s responsible for the sub. A recent inspection by the city found that it’s taking on water due to not having a bilge pump. If nothing is done, it could possibly sink into the harbor or roll into and damage the Queen Mary next to it. This is all in addition to the potential environmental hazard the sub poses for the harbor. The city is asking a court to block Urban Commons from denying its responsibility to the sub.