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The Queens Meet

Queen Mary 2 in San Pedro and Long Beach California

February 22-23, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Richard Elgenson


Sometimes the news is worth paying attention to.  Being a native southern Californian, I  remember when the City of Long Beach bought the original Queen Mary cruise ship.  In the interim, I have been involved in recreational sailing activities since my dad bought a kit boat, built it and taught me how to sail.  In those years, we sailed mainly in Marina Del Rey near LAX.  We even took the small 16 foot sailboat down to Newport Beach for the day to visit with my aunt who rented an apartment for a month during summer.  We also sailed the 16 footer on June Lake.  Eventually my dad bought a Catalina 22 sailboat which he kept for many years in MdR, Ventura Harbor, on land, and at two marinas in Long Beach.  Finally I bought my own Catalina 27 sailboat and we got rid of the 22.  Presently my boat is Downtown Shoreline Marina in Long Beach.  Just across the channel from the marina is where the Queen Mary has resided for the last 39 years.  In that time, I have never been aboard the Queen Mary.  For the last 18 months, I have been working at a major Orange County airport which requires occasional nighttime work.  I had heard about the RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Queen Mary 2 coming to southern California in January and got excited when my employer asked if we would work overnights during the week of February 20th.  I agreed to do so and then realized that I would be able to see the two Queen Mary cruise ships in Long Beach Harbor on February 23rd.  My schedule also enabled me to drive to San Pedro and see the QM 2 berthed at the Los Angeles World Cruise Terminal.

    Original Queen Mary in Long Beach.


It is notable that the QM 2 is so large that it had to be backed several miles into its San Pedro berth .  Normally cruise ships can be turned in the harbor after passing under the Vincent Thomas Bridge.  I took several hours driving to different vantage points to photograph the QM 2.  After attempting to exit the freeway at Harbor Drive where the traffic leading to the QM 2 was heavy, I crossed the Vincent Thomas Bridge east to Terminal Island.


According to the Cunard website, the Queen Mary 2 is 1,132 feet in length and 113 feet longer than the original Queen Mary.  This ship is an amazing 236 feet from keel to funnel.  With a draft of almost 33 feet, that leaves 203 feet of ship above the water line.  She is approximately 151,400 gross tons.  Queen Mary 2 has a 135 foot beam and is 147.5 feet at bridge wings.  She is powered by an 157,000 horsepower gas turbine/diesel electric plant.  She has four 21.5 megawatt Rolls Royce azimuth thruster pods for propulsion with 2 fixed and 2 which swivel.  These are similar to traction motors on a diesel-electric locomotive.  This is an improvement over the propeller and rudder system.  There are 3 bow thrusters and one stern thruster.  Queen Mary 2 has capacity for 2,620 passengers and 1,253 crew.  She cost an extimated $800 million dollars and was built by Alstom at Chantiers de l'Atlantic shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.


After getting yelled outside the Evergreen Terminal by a guy who claimed he was an off duty cop, I left Terminal Island and traveled back over the Vincent Thomas Bridge back to San Pedro.  After this, my luck got increasingly better.  Knowing my way around the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors paid off this time by finding several low hills on the mainland side of the harbor.  Finally at the Ports o'Call tourist trap, I got another break when I spotted an open marina gangway gate.  The harbor shoreline curves, so I walked to the end of a gangway to find nothing but water between myself and the QM 2.


The next stop was near the old ferry building now the Maritime Museum.  I found myself at a City of Los Angeles Firehouse with a beautiful fireboat waitng for her call.  It was interesting to see a schematic diagram of a fireboat plumbing system for import and spraying of water.  Little did I suspect we would see a fireboat welcoming the Queen Mary 2 in Long Beach Harbor.  I am used to seeing large green fire engines at work used for firefighting purposes the the airport.  They are self contained and can also hook up to fire hydrants.  As a matter of fact, I was mapping flush mount fire hydrants overnight all that week between John Wayne Airport runways which enabled me to be on this voyage.


Above, the red car was doing its job while thousands of visitors came to see the Queen Mary 2.

Below are views of the original Queen Mary taken from my boat on a different day.  She is inside a protective breakwater wall.  Until 2004, the City of Long Beach would shoot fireworks from near the Queen Mary on July 4th.  In 2005, they did a New Year's Eve fireworks show.




On page 2, we get back to the Queen Mary 2 in San Pedro.

The Queens Meet Page 2

Richard Elgenson RailNews Site