On this day in history : 2nd May 1969 – The British ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 departs Southampton to embark on her maiden voyage to New York….

QE2 at Southampton Docks, 1976 – Image credit : Adrian Pingstone – Public domain

The QE2 had been launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the 20th of September 1967…. Sea trials began in the Irish Sea on the 26th of November 1968 and proved to be disastrous…. Serious problems arose with the turbine engines and the QE2 had to return to the shipyard – with Cunard refusing to take delivery until the problems had been rectified…. As a result the original maiden voyage, which had been scheduled for January 1969 had to be cancelled….

When the liner did eventually leave Southampton thousands lined the quayside to wave her off and wish her bon voyage…. Equally as many were there to greet her on her arrival in New York on May the 7th…. It was a voyage that had taken 4 days, 16 hours and 35 minutes….

Image credit : Murgatroyd49 – own work – CC BY-SA 4.0

In her 35 years service as Cunard’s flag ship she carried some 2.5 million passengers – including The Queen and Nelson Mandella…. She was renowned for her elegant style and luxury…. However, on the 12th of May 1982 she set off for the Falkland Islands; all of her luxury fittings had been stripped out, lounges were turned into dormitories and three helicopter pads had been built…. She was carrying 3,000 troops to the South Atlantic…. She was to arrive back safely in Southampton on the 11th of June 1982….

The QE2 was involved in her fair share of adventures…. On the 8th of January 1971 she was called on to rescue passengers from the Antilles, which had run aground…. On the 7th of August 1992 she hit uncharted rocks near Cuttyhunk Island, Martha’s Vineyard and on the 11th of September 1995 she was caught in Hurricane Luis in the westbound Atlantic – and was hit by a 95 foot wave….

In October 1986 work began to convert the QE2’s engines from steam to diesel…. By January 1996 she had clocked up 4 million miles….by the end of August 2002 this had reached a staggering 5 million miles….

QE2 being fitted with new engines, Bremerhaven, November 1986 – Image credit : Dashers – own work – CC BY 3.0

She was becoming a tired old lady – albeit a majestic one…. On the 27th of November 2008 she was permanently berthed in Dubai – to await her fate….

QE2 in Port Rashid, Dubai, late October 2015 – Image credit : Jidhin George CC BY-SA 4.0

On the 18th of April 2018 the QE2 finally opened as a luxury hotel – with 224 rooms and suites, 6 restaurants and nightlife venues, a spa, theatre, swimming pool, gym and meeting and conference rooms among the facilities….

Image credit : Gerpsych at English Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

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