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Happy Birthday QE2!

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1969 maiden voyage

Happy Birthday To Cunard’s Longest Serving Vessel

Queen Elizabeth 2 will mark 36 years of service on Monday, May 2 when she arrives in her homeport of Southampton—36 years to the day that she left the same port for New York on her 1969 Maiden Voyage.  And what a 36 years they have been!

She has sailed more than 5.3 million nautical miles—that's more than any ship in history and is equivalent to traveling to the moon and back over 11 times. She has carried nearly three million passengers—many of them returning again and again to their second home.  Her arrival in Southampton on May 2 marks her 641st visit there and the completion of her 1,374th voyage. It will be her 4,856th port call. She has sailed at an average speed of 24.75 knots over the last 36 years.

QE2 can sail backwards faster than most cruise ships can sail forwards and one gallon of fuel moves her 49.5 feet! She has made 795 Atlantic crossings and completed 23 full World Voyages. In that time she has been commanded by 23 Captains.

A History Unlike Any Other

QE2 was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967 and was the last passenger ship to be built on the Clyde. For the last 36 years QE2 has been the most famous passenger liner in the world and yet when she was introduced in 1967, financial analysts claimed that the age of the liner was dead and that QE2 would be mothballed within six months. How wrong they were!

She was one of the star attractions when she led the Tall Ships into New York Harbor for the Statue of Liberty's centenary celebrations in 1986; over one million sightseers flocked to see her when she called at Liverpool for the first time during Cunard's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1990, —and briefly broke her speed record on the anniversary transatlantic crossing, this editor, who was on board, remembers—and she was at the head of the flotilla reviewed by the Queen on the 50th Anniversary of 'D' Day in 1994. This year she will play a key role in the Trafalgar Commemorations in June as part of the SeaBritain festival in 2005 (website: [] ).

However, QE2's history has not only been one of sedate cruises, ecstatic welcomes and luxury living. In 1982, she was requisitioned by the British government for service in the Falklands Campaign and so joined the ranks of the great Cunarders called upon to serve the country in times of conflict. (Her predecessor (Queen Elizabeth) was converted to a troop ship during World War II..

Longest Serving Cunarder:  This year on September 4, the QE2 becomes the longest serving Cunarder ever when she passes the 36 years, four months, and two days' record of the Scythia , which sailed from 1921 to 1957. QE2 was also the Cunard flagship for longer than any other from 1969 until she handed over the role to Queen Mary 2 last year, and last November she became the longest serving Cunard express liner when she passed the 35 years, six months and one-day record previously set by Aquitania which served Cunard Line, in peace and in war, from May 1914 to December 1949.

Some historic facts and trivia about this gracious Lady:

During her 36 years afloat, the QE2

* completed 1,374 voyages with an average speed of 24.75 knots.

* sailed 5.3 million nautical miles - that's more than any other ship ever and the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back 11.25 times and sailing around the world over 230 times.

* carried almost three million passengers.

* completed 795 Atlantic crossings

* completed 23 full World Cruises

* nine diesel electric engines - each the size of a double-decker bus.

* the most powerful propulsion plant on a non-military vessel.

* the largest marine motors ever built.

* the largest cinema at sea (capacity 531).

* the only Synagogue at sea.

* called at New York 207 times and Southampton 641 times

* been commanded by 23 Captains.

She is also

* probably the most misnamed ship in the world. She is Queen Elizabeth 2 (not Queen Elizabeth II) indicating she is the second Cunard liner named Queen Elizabeth.

* the most famous ship in operation.

* the only ship to be awarded Five Stars by the Royal Automobile Club.

* the largest consumer of caviar on earth.

* the fastest merchant ship in operation capable of speeds of up to 34 knots (cruising speed 28.5 knots).

* She cost just over £29 million to build in 1969. Since then Cunard has spent more than fifteen times that amount on refits and refurbishments.

* The £100 million cost of re-engining her in 1986 / 87 is the largest amount spent on such a project. Her steam turbines had taken her a total of 2,622,858 million nautical miles - the equivalent of 120 times around the world.

* On June 13, 1999, QE2 exceeded 175,290 hours of steaming time - that equates to exactly 20 years (including four leap years).

* Cunard's first ship Britannia, would fit into QE2's Grand Lounge.

* One gallon of fuel moves QE2 49.5 feet; with the previous steam turbine engines, one gallon of fuel moved the ship 36 feet.

* The diesel electric system produces 130,000 hp, which is the most powerful propulsion plant of any merchant ship in the world.

* QE2 can sail backwards (full speed astern is 19 knots) faster than most cruise ships sail forwards.

* The 95 MV total power output is enough to light a city the size of Southampton.

* QE2 sends all its used cooking oil ashore for reconstituting into animal feed.

* By the end of 2002, QE2 had visited New York more times than any other port: 680 times followed by Southampton (598), Cherbourg (264), Port Everglades (129) and Barbados (118).

* An estimated one million turned out to see her when she called at Liverpool for the first time on Tuesday 24 July 1990.

* 744 feet of plastic wrap is used very year, enough to go around the Queen Elizabeth 2 nearly 731 times.

* The ship's fuel oil tank capacity of 4,381.4 tons is sufficient for ten days' sailing at 32.5 knots, equaling 7,800 miles.

* QE2 consumes 18.05 tons of fuel per hour - that's 433 tons per day.

* Heineken and Becks together account for almost 50 percent of the beer consumed.

* Her rudder weighs 80 tons.

* Pound for pound, the most expensive food item on board is saffron (2.5 times the value of Beluga caviar).

* The number of tea bags used each day would supply a family for an entire year.

* To eat QE2's daily consumption of breakfast cereal, one person would have to eat at least two packets a day for more than a year.

* Enough fruit juice is used in one year to fill up QE2's swimming pools nearly 8 times.

* Approximately 158,500 gallons of beverage are consumed annually.

 The kitchens and dining rooms contain the following:

glassware               51000 items

crockery / dishes   64000 items

cutlery                    35850 items

kitchenware           7921 items

tableware              64531 items

Linen consumption on a transatlantic voyage averages:

tablecloths             2932

oven cloths            1000

pillow cases           3100

laundry bags          3250

QE 2’s Statistics

Registry - Southampton, England
Builder: John Brown and Co. (Clydebank) Ltd., Scotland; later Upper Clyde Shipbuilders
Christened by: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1967 (The Queen did not name the ship after herself;  and so in time the ship became known as the “QE 2”)

Maiden Voyage: May 2, 1969 (Southampton to New York
Re-engined: November 1986 - April 1987 by Lloyd Werft, Bremerhaven, Germany
Refurbished: November/December 2001
Weight: 70,327 tons

Dimensions:  963 feet long • 105 feet wide • 32 feet draft
Speed: 25 - 28.5 knots cruising speed (maximum 32.5 knots)
Decks: 12 guest decks

Elevators: 13 guest, 8 store elevators
Capacity: 1,791 guests (double occupancy)

Crew:  921 crew (British & International)