Stats & Fun Facts
Discover the Queen Mary's incredible journey. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Queen Mary.
With a desire to replace Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria, the Cunard Line begins to discuss plans to build a new pair of super ocean liners. Undettered by lofty goals and the Great Depression, the building of the Queen Mary becomes a ground breaking technological achievement.
At Cunard Line’s annual meeting, Chairman Sir Thomas Royden makes the first official announcement that “the question of new tonnage is one constantly in our minds.” The Cunard Line begins plans to design a new pair of super ocean liners to replace the Mauritania, Aquitania and Berengaria on their North Atlantic route.
Cunard Line announces that John Brown & Company, LTD., of Clydebank, Scotland, had been selected as builder of the new liner.
First keel plate is laid for job #534 (which was eventually named the Queen Mary) at John Brown Shipyard.
Work begins on the new Southampton dry dock, to be known as the King George V Graving Dock.
Work halts on Job #534 because of the Great Depression and an inability to secure further bank loans. The hull plating is 80% completed and the ship stands nine stories high.
The King George V Graving Dock is officially opened with King George V and Queen Mary steaming into the dry dock aboard the Royal Yacht, Victoria and Albert. The dock is the largest in the world at the time. It is 1,200 feet long, 135 feet wide at its entrance, 59 feet deep, holds 58 million gallons of water, and can hold any ship up to 100,000 tons.
The effective date for transferring the assets of the Cunard Steamship Company and the White Star Line, to the newly formed Cunard White Star, LTD. Cunard was credited with 62% of the share capital and White Star with 38%.
The North Atlantic Shipping Bill is passed. The British Treasury makes advances of £4,500,000 toward the completion of #534, and authority was to be sought to make an advance not to exceed £5,000,000 for a second liner.
After 28 months, construction resumes on job #534
Rivals Cunard Line and White Star are forced to merge.
Job #534 is launched, and named the Queen Mary by her Majesty Queen Mary, accompanied by His Majesty King George V. The ship is moved to the nearby fitting out basin.
Installation of boilers begins around this date.
Installation of engines and almost all of the heavy machinery is completed. Funnels and both masts are in position.
Unprecedented luxury and forward-thinking technology make the Queen Mary popular with British Royalty, Hollywood celebrities and dignitaries alike, raising the bar for luxury travel and ultimately becoming the grandest ocean liner ever built.
King Edward VIII makes inspection tour of the ship.
The Queen Mary departs John Brown Shipyard, steaming down the Clyde River to Gourock, Scotland. The ship goes aground twice despite prior dredging of the river and her shallow draft. Anchor trials and adjustment of the magnetic compasses are made off Gourock. Twenty of the Queen Mary’s lifeboats were left off the ship to save weight. Since they were manufactured in Gourock, the lifeboats were lifted into their davits upon ship's arrival.
Preliminary speed trials are made on the way to Southampton.
Dry docked in King George V Graving Dock.
Official speed trials are held in the Irish Sea off the Isle of Arran. British Olympic runner Lord Burghley runs one lap (400 yards) in evening dress around the Promenade Deck in under 60 seconds.
The ship is officially handed over from John Brown Shipyard to Cunard White Star Line at exactly noon.
King Edward VIII, Her Majesty Queen Mary, the young Princess Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of York (soon to be King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), the Duke and Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester visit the ship. Queen Mary presents her personal standard to the ship. It was displayed at the head of the main staircase on Promenade Deck and is now located on board the Queen Elizabeth 2.
The Queen Mary departs Southampton at 4:33 p.m. on her maiden voyage, arriving in Cherbourg, France at 8:47 p.m. and departing at 12:39 a.m. the following morning.
Arrival at Pier 90 in New York at 4:20 p.m. Crossing time: 5 days, 5 hours and 13 minutes.
On her sixth round-trip voyage, the Queen Mary wins the Blue Riband for the fastest North Atlantic crossings from the French Line's Normandie. The Normandie wins the honor back in 1937.
Docked without the aid of tugboats in New York, by Commodore Irving. Voyage #53 West.
Won the Blue Riband back from the Normandie on her 48th round-trip voyage. The Queen Mary held the record
Departed Southampton on final peacetime voyage, carrying her largest number of passengers: 2,552, including Mr. & Mrs. Bob Hope and millions in gold bullion.
As England and France declare war on Germany, the Queen Mary’s days as a passenger ocean liner appear over. With her record-breaking speed and size, the Queen Mary is retrofitted to serve as a troop ship during WWII. Dubbed, the “Grey Ghost,” the Queen Mary hauled as many as 15,000 men while playing a pivotal role in guiding the allied forces to victory.
Crew members black out ship's portholes.
England and France declared war on Germany.
The Queen Mary arrives in New York.
Departs New York for Sydney, Australia, to be fitted as a troopship. Accommodations increased from 2,140 to 5,500.
First voyage as a troop transport. Sailed in convoy with Aquitania, Mauretania (II), Empress of Britain, Empress of Canada, and Empress of Japan, from Sydney, Australia, to Gourock, Scotland, with 5,500 troops.
Dry docked in Singapore. Paravanes fitted.
Degaussing strip installed in Sydney.
Hull damaged while entering dry dock in Boston Naval Shipyard. Troop capacity increased.
"40 Days and 40 Nights" voyage from Boston to Sydney, Australia. First time the Queen Mary carried American troops (8,398 troops, 905 crew).
First time more than 10,000 persons had traveled on any ship (9,880 troops, 875 crew).
First time a complete division was carried on any ship. First Armored Infantry Division (15,125 troops, 863 crew).
The Queen Mary collides with British light cruiser Curacoa. Seventy tons of cement are used to temporarily patch the bow in Gourock, Scotland.
Dry docked in Boston Naval Shipyard to install new more permanent bow piece.
“The Long Voyage” from Gourock, to the Suez, Sydney, Australia, and return to Gourock. Total mileage: 37,943 miles. Ship transferred to Atlantic Ocean.
Winston Churchill transported from Gourock to New York, to meet with President Roosevelt. 5,000 German prisoners of war were also on board.
Carried the greatest number of people on a floating vessel: 15,740 troops, 943 crew. Total: 16,683.
Winston Churchill transported from Gourock to Halifax, Canada, for 2nd Quebec "Quadrant" conference.
Winston Churchil returns to Gourock, Scotland, with 15,116 troops.
D-Day Invasion of Europe.
Armament removed from ship, except the six-inch gun.
VE DAY (Victory Europe)
14,833 troops and 1,000 crew transported. total: 15,883.
Funnels repainted in Cunard colors.
Six war-bride voyages, transporting 12,886 European brides and children to the United States and Canada.
Seven war-bride voyages transporting European brides and children to Canada. Ten stowaways were discovered on the first crossing.
Docked in New York without the aid of tugs.
After a 10-month retrofit, the Queen Mary returns to her original glory. With her military duty over, the ship reclaims her place as a world-class ocean liner, but a sea of major changes is just starting to become evident.
The Queen Mary makes its final military voyage from Halifax to South Hampton.
Work to restore the ship to passenger service begins as the ship at the King George Dry Dock.
Furnishings reinstalled after being recovered from different ports around the world.
Participating in the post-war sea trials in the English Channel and met the Queen Elizabeth for the first time during peace off the coast of South Hampton in the Solant just off Cowes.
First post-war voyage departs South Hampton New York with 1,897 passengers, 1,280 crew members under the command of Commodore Illingworth.
Two ship service begins for Cunard with the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth
In 1947, Cunard shareholders acquired the 38% of Cunard-White Star that they didn't already own and in 1949 bought out the entire company, operating individually as the Cunard Line. The Cunard Line and White Star line merged in 1934 when the two companies had experienced financial difficulties.
Walt Disney sails aboard the Queen Mary to attend European Premier of Alice in Wonderland.
Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden sail aboard the Queen Mary to visit with President Harry S. Truman.
The SS United States secures Blue Riband traveling from Bishop Rock to Ambrose Light in 3 days, 12 hours and 12 minutes. The Queen Mary held the Blue Riband since August 8, 1938.
Winston Churchill sails to meet President elect Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Queen Elizabeth returns to England aboard the Queen Mary after three-week good will tour of Canada and the United States.
Stabilizers installed aboard the ship at King George Dry Dock in South Hampton.
Record turnaround in New York of 17 hours and 58 minutes. In the early days, the ship would be in port for 36 hours.
Queen Mary transported 36 tons of gold and silver from South Hampton to New York.
The 1960s were a decade of major change and with the rise of popularity in air travel; ocean liners were slowly becoming obsolete. The old world luxury and sensibilities of the Queen Mary seemed outdated in a modern world now transfixed on the notion of space exploration.
Wave floods parts of Main, A and B Decks. Voyage #382 East.
Docked without the aid of tugs in New York, by Captain Watts. Voyage #397 West.
Docked without tugs in New York, by Captain S.A. Jones. Voyage #419.
First cruise: Southampton to Las Palmas. Voyage #425.
Mediterranean cruise: New York, Las Palmas, Tangier, Piraeus, Naples, Cannes, Palma, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Madeira, New York. Voyage #477.
Cunard announces that the Queen Mary is for sale.
First letter of inquiry from H.E. Ridings of Long Beach.
In King George V Graving Dock. Fastest ever turn - around in dry dock, and first time ever sailed with passengers from dry dock. Voyage #485 West.
Fastest eastbound crossing since Blue Riband record: 4 days, 10 hours, 6 minutes. Voyage #486 East. Second fastest Atlantic crossing since 1938.
1954 - by ship: 1,000,000; by air: 600,000
1957 - by ship: 1,000,000; by air: 1,000,000
1961 - by ship: 750,000; by air: 2,000,000
1965 - by ship: 650,000; by air: 4,000,000
Officially retiring from ocean travel, the Queen Mary was moved to sunny Long Beach, California where it is a living landmark, popular attraction and hotel, exposing a whole new generation of fans to bygone era.
Queens' captains open orders telling them of the decision to sell the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.
First Meeting between Lord Mancroft and Long Beach, California representatives in New York.
$3.45 million Long Beach bid accepted.
Last Eastbound transatlantic crossings. Voyage #513 East.
Cruise from Southampton to Las Palmas & Gibraltar. Voyage #514.
Cruise from Southampton to Las Palmas. Voyage #515.
Departed Southampton on Final Voyage to Long Beach, California. Voyage #516.
The Queen Mary arrives in Long Beach, California.
Removed from British registry and officially turned over to the City of Long Beach. Ship also became fully dependent on shore-side utilities.
Dry docked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
The Queen Mary moved to Pier J.
Queen Mary Story and Power Train Tour, and Upper Decks opened, weekends only.
Jacques Cousteau's "Living Sea" portion of Museum of the Sea (M.O.T.S.) opens.
Largest day’s attendance: 19,600.
First 150 hotel rooms opened.
Preview opening of Mary’s Gate Village (Now the Queen’s Marketplace).
Queen Mary Tour Inc. takes over operation of Museum of the Sea.
Wrather Port Properties Ltd., a subsidiary of Wrather Corporation, signs a 66-year lease to manage the Queen Mary and adjoining acreage.
Howards Hughes’ Spruce Goose flying boat opens to the public next to the Queen Mary.
Walt Disney Company buys Wrather Corporation for $152 million. The agreement includes the Disneyland Hotel, and management of the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property.
City of Long Beach resumes responsibility for the Queen Mary from the Port of Long Beach.
Aero Club of Southern California announces sale of Spruce Goose to Evergreen International Aviation Inc. in McMinnville, Oregon.
Disney advises the City and Port of Long Beach that it will end its lease for the operation of the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose. The company agrees to operate the attraction until September 30, 1992.
Walt Disney Company gives up lease on the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose property. Remainder of 1992, The Port of Long Beach becomes operator of property, and looks for new operator. Hotel Queen Mary closes.
Spruce Goose is moved out of The Dome and put on barges headed to McMinnville, Oregon, having been sold to Evergreen International Aviation Inc.
The Queen Mary closes.
Joseph F. Prevratil, President & CEO of RMS Foundation, Inc. signs five-year lease with the city of Long Beach to act as operators of the Queen Mary.
The Queen Mary reopens to the public. Self-guided and guided "Captain's Tour" resume. Most restaurants and Sunday Brunch are back.
Hotel Queen Mary reopens with 125 rooms operational. Banquet rooms are operational.
Audio tours begin again in English, German, Japanese and Spanish.
Remainder of Hotel Queen Mary's 365 rooms reopen.
Captain John Treasure Jones, the 33rd and last captain of the Queen Mary dies at the age of 87 at his home in Chandler's Ford, England, just north of the port town of Southampton.
Diamond Jubilee Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Launch and Naming of the great liner. Officiating are RMS Foundation President Joseph F. Prevratil; H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent representing the British Royal Family, grandson of Her Majesty Queen Mary; Scotland's Clydebank District Provost Jack McAllister and other special guests.
The Queen Mary celebrates the 25th Anniversary of its Opening Day
RMS Foundation, Inc., schedules Diamond Jubilee Celebration for the 60th Anniversary of the Queen Mary’s Maiden Voyage from Southampton to New York.
"Titanic: The Expedition" exhibit makes its West Coast debut aboard the Queen Mary.
The Queen Mary celebrates 30 years in Long Beach.
Two Cunard legends meet for the first time. The new Queen Mary 2 sailed into the port of Long Beach and greeted her historic namesake, the original Queen Mary. The two ships saluted each other with their one-ton signaling horns.
The Queen Mary’s amateur radio station (W6RO) is renamed the Nate Brightman Radio Room in honor of Mr. Brightman’s more than 40 years old dedication to the station.
The Queen Mary celebrates 40 years in Long Beach.
The Queen Mary celebrates her 75-year anniversary of the Maiden Voyage.
Diana: A Legacy of a Princess Royal Exhibit premiers at the Queen Mary.
Discover the Queen Mary's incredible journey. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Queen Mary.
Check back for new and exciting updates about the Queen Mary
On Sept. 26, 1934, at the John Brown & Company shipyard on the banks of the Clyde River in Scotland, Job Number 534, the largest ship the world had ever seen, slid down the launchways into the water as Queen Mary addressed the crowd, speaking into the microphone, "I am happy to name this ship the Queen Mary. I wish success to her and to all who sail her." One thousand and one transatlantic crossings later, the Queen Mary retired in Long Beach, arriving on Dec. 9, 1967. At exactly 12:07 p.m., John Treasure Jones, the Queen Mary's last sailing master, ordered "finished with the engines," signaling the end of one career and the beginning of another.
The Queen Mary lives on now as a full-service Long Beach hotel, historical landmark and entertainment venue, giving visitors a unique glimpse into a bygone era when steamships were the most regal way to travel.
We thank all of our guests for their continued support of this truly wonderful ship. Check out the information below to find out how you can help support the Queen Mary and take a look at some of the recently completed projects.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have specific questions.
The Queen Mary has a long and distinguished history and we invite you to explore her past. We strive to locate and maintain as many authentic historical documents as we can in hopes of carrying on the Queen Mary legend. Please peruse and discover the rich history of the Queen Mary.
If you have any authentic Queen Mary documents, lists or memorabilia that you would like to share with us, please email us at History@Queenmary.com or call us at 562-499-1791.
Keeping the Queen Mary’s history alive and preserving her past is of utmost importance.
The Queen Mary features some of the grandest, most intricate and beautiful interior designs ever aboard an ocean liner. Influenced by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 30s, the interior design includes strong curves and geometric forms representing elegance, glamour, function and modernity.
The Art Deco design was further enhanced by the use of over 56 different types of woods from all over the world, which earned the Queen Mary the nickname, the "Ship of Woods." The highly decorative and luxurious woods were used throughout the entire ship – inside and out. Intricate marquetry, carvings and highly decorative murals were featured in every ballroom and salon of the Queen Mary. Accented with modern materials such as glass, marble, metal, enamel and even linoleum, the woods gave the ship an unmistakable grandeur that reflected a blending of classic style with modern age design. A total of 56 types of highly polished veneers appear on the Queen Mary, one for each of the British protectorates at the time the ship was built. Six of those types of woods are now actually extinct making the Queen Mary one of the few places they can still be found.
Art plays a prominent role in the décor of the Queen Mary with elaborate murals, paintings, sculptures and wood carvings found throughout the ship. Leading proponents of the Art Deco movement were commissioned by Cunard to create unique and contemporary pieces of art work, many of which can still be found on the ship today. Some of the most famous works are murals by Doris Zinkeisen, whose work echoed themes of mythology, animals and nature, abstracted into pure form. Today, the Queen Mary is widely considered one of the best examples and landmarks of Art Deco style in the world.
Like all other vessels of her era, the Queen Mary used maritime MF and HF radio frequencies to communicate with other ships and with shoreside high seas radio stations. Most of the world’s shipping lines contracted with radio companies to provide equipment and skilled radiomen for their ships, the largest being Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company. Cunard Lines selected the much smaller International Marine Radio Company to provide their ships with radio equipment and operators. IMRC designed and custom-built most of the equipment used on Cunard liners, and employed the radiomen who maintained and operated it. Some of that IMRC-built equipment is still on display in the Wireless Room. IMRC radiomen sailed on every voyage of the Queen Mary, using the radio callsign GBTT, providing communications in support of intership safety, navigation, weather, news reports, ship’s business, crew and passenger messages, and even radio-to-landline telephone calling for those who would pay the rather high prices for that service. Except for the ship-to-shore radiotelephone calls, most other traffic was passed using Morse code radiotelegraphy. In this era, radiotelegraphy was more efficient and reliable, being able to get through noise and signal fading much better than the AM and SSB voice modes.
Even into the 1950s and 1960s when Amateur Radio became increasingly popular, IMRC radiomen weren’t much interested in tuning-in and operating on the ham radio frequencies. Indeed, after working a watch of four to six hours of pretty much constantly sending and copying Morse code traffic, the radiomen had little desire to do more of the same on the ham bands on their own time.
Amateur radio first came aboard the Queen Mary for her Last Great Cruise in 1967. Upon learning that the City of Long Beach was considering the purchase of the Queen Mary to serve as a larger-than-life icon of its emerging status as an ‘International City’, Long Beach resident and radio amateur Nate Brightman, K6OSC, fell head-over-heels in love with the idea. He bent every ear and pulled every string he could to convince city leaders to go ahead with the deal. They heard him, and the purchase was made. Then, learning about the emerging plans for a Last Great Cruise to deliver the liner to Long Beach, Brightman hatched a plan to place an amateur radio station aboard the ship to contact and converse with radio amateurs around the world during the Queen Mary’s Last Great Cruise.
Brightman had to overcome many significant impediments to this project. The Cunard Line, US State Department, and the British Government all had to be brought into agreement to permit this event to happen. When all was arranged, Long Beach radio amateur Al Lee, W6KQI, led a team of amateurs as they flew to England, boarded the Queen Mary, installed their radio equipment, and broadcast from the Queen Mary at sea using the British-issued callsign GB5QM during the Last Great Cruise. Every radio amateur around the world who made contact with GB5QM was sent a commemorative ‘QSL’ (confirmation of radio contact) certificate. One of these certificates is still on display in the radio display room.
Nate Brightman, K6OSC, founder of W6RO aboard the Queen Mary
Nate Brightman’s vision for amateur radio aboard the Queen Mary did not end when she reached her final mooring in Long Beach. He was already at work on a plan to establish a permanent amateur radio station aboard the ship. This proved to be his most daunting undertaking ever, requiring 11 years of persistent negotiating to convince City and ship officials to grant his aspiration. Space was approved on the Sports deck in the structure originally housing the ship’s squash court. This was an ideal location as it provided direct access to the roof overhead for antennas and was in a position to be passed by visiting tourists as they exited the wheelhouse and officer’s quarters exhibits. Construction was funded by the City, and the console was re-created from Brightman’s own photos of the ship’s original Wireless Telecommunications console, formerly located on the Promenade deck portside, photos which he shot during a VIP tour shortly after the ship’s arrival in Long Beach in 1967.
Amateur radio equipment for the Queen Mary’s new Wireless Room was donated by the Swan Radio Company of Oceanside upon Brightman’s request to the company’s founder, Herb Johnson. The equipment and antennas were installed, some of the ship’s original radio equipment was added for display, and the new Wireless Room was opened for operation on April 22, 1979. Frm that date forward, volunteer radio amateurs from the local ham radio club, the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, as well as others from all over southern California, have staffed the Wireless Room, making radio contact with hams across the US and around the world and demonstrating ham radio to the ship’s tourists as they pass by. Many of them still use Morse code.
Brightman served as manager of the station from 1979 until his retirement in 2013 – nearly 35 years! The station was re-dedicated as ‘The Nate Brightman Wireless Room’ in 2007 in his honor. W6RO enjoys worldwide fame on the ham radio bands. Amateurs who make an on-air contact with the station are sent the very popular W6RO ‘QSL’ card commemorating their exchange with the Queen Mary.
Be sure to stop by the Wireless Room on your tour of the Queen Mary. And, if you’re lucky enough to encounter one of the volunteer radio amateurs there, enjoy a conversation about all things radio.