RMS Queen Mary
This painting shows the Cunard speed queen in the early morning in mid ocean during the first year of her long career.
RMS Queen Mary was built by John Brown & Company, Limited in Clydebank, Scotland, for Cunard-White Star Line. She was 1018 feet long, 118 feet wide, and engined with steam turbines, quadruple screw. She departed from Southampton for her maiden voyage on May 27th, 1936, initiating her Southampton-New York service. Elegantly designed with a broad range of contemporary and classical artwork, yet more conventional than her predecessors, offering the comfort of stuffed chairs and cozy fireplaces, RMS Queen Mary appealed to the ordinary traveler as well as those preferring a first class passage. This singularly British liner gained popularity rapidly, and came to be cherished in both her homeland and the United States.
With the onset of World War II came a change in career for the great passenger liner. On the evening of September 2, 1939, RMS Queen Mary, mid ocean in a transatlantic voyage, raced her passengers to the safety of New York Harbor. Soon, dressed in wartime gray, she became a troop carrier, able to transport as many as 15,000 troops in one journey. At a maintainable speed of 30 knots, faster than the earliest World War II German torpedoes, she became known as the Grey Ghost. So respected were her capabilities that the enemy placed an outrageous bounty on her.
In July of 1947 RMS Queen Mary returned to her peacetime endeavors. Along with a gererous supply of festive post-war tourists, her passenger list sported British royalty, American superstars, and notable statesmen. A close pass to her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, became a mid-Atlantic ritual, when, weather permitting, the captains of both ships would intentionally steer within close proximity, saluting each other with three long blasts of their whistles.
As air travel increased, passengers on the giant steamship decreased, and the RMS Queen Mary was terminally removed from service in 1967, having transported more than two million passengers, 800,000 troops, and traveled over three million miles. Her last voyage was, however, a grand hurrah. Named the ‘Last Great Cruise’, this 14,559 miles long voyage took her to some of the world’s most exotic ports. Fortunately, the City of Long Beach, California, saved her from an indelicate end by purchasing the stately retiree. She is now permanently berthed in the port of Long Beach, open to visitors as a museum, hotel, and convention center. Ironically, she has welcomed more travelers in her permanent berth than those she ever encountered on past voyages.
Other paintings of RMS Queen Mary by James Flood:
RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Mary 2 in Long Beach, CA
RMS Queen Mary Speed Trials, 1936
Interesting perspective on RMS Queen Mary, past and present, written by video producer John Champion.