For 85 years since its maiden voyage, the RMS Queen Mary has survived rough seas, transatlantic and even world wars.
For the past 50 years, we’ve enjoyed Second Life anchored at Long Beach, riding the wave of popularity and entering a tough time as a tourist attraction.
But historic ships are now facing the most difficult voyages to date.
After years of negligence by a series of operators, the Queen Mary is so creepy and leaky that it requires immediate repairs of $ 23 million, according to a pile of court documents and inspection reports released last month. There is growing concern that if something is not done immediately, the ship may be in serious devastation and at risk of sinking.
The Queen Mary has long struggled as a tourist attraction due to the inherent costs associated with maintaining such large vessels.The struggle Various failed suggestions It would have sent it back to Canada, New Zealand and even England.
1992, The city fought Plans to move it to Hong Kong. In 1997, promoters proposed sailing to Japan for several years as a way to raise money for repairs. The city also rejected the idea.At some point, Disney turned to the Queen Mary As the center of the seaside It’s a theme park, but the plan also failed.
“The city has been trying to get the Queen Mary right for over 40 years,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said at a news conference last month. “We have moved from one landlord to another …. we haven’t succeeded by the time we have the right partners and the right conservation plans in place.”
According to an April 28 inspection by the city’s hired marine engineering firm Elliott Bay Design Group, Queen Mary’s current devastation is widespread.As originally reported in Long beach post..
The vessel, which has been anchored in Long Beach since 1967, maintains strong support from city leaders, including Garcia, who recently stated that it is important to maintain the vessel’s presence in the port city. , A destination for many years of tourist attractions, hotels and history lovers.
But no one seems willing to pay for it. The city of Long Beach owns the Queen Mary, but authorities have stated that it is not their responsibility to repair ships that have been rented to operators for decades. Current operators are trapped in bankruptcy proceedings.
Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that the vessel may flood or capsize within the next two years.
“Work items in the urgent category … should be dealt with immediately for safety from floods over the next two years,” said a court document, stating that the current status of the various systems is “floods throughout the ship, of the ship. There is a possibility of overturning, which may lead to the safety of life. ” And environmental issues. “
At a news conference, Garcia said the ship was “not just the history of Long Beach, but an important part of the country’s history and its relationship with Britain.”
Many companies with ambitious plans sought to raise the Queen Mary financially. For years, operators have hosted New Year’s Eve and Halloween celebrations, Friday the 13th-themed music, food and holiday festivals. Providing “Haunted House” It features the historic, prestigious interior of a floating hotel.
When LA-based real estate investment firm Urban Commons arrived in 2016, it was accompanied by promises and plans. The company signed a 66-year lease and established the Eagle Hospitality Trust within three years. Queen Mary..
But in January, the trust and its affiliates Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection With a motion to sell assets, including the Queen Mary’s leasehold, it has more than $ 500 million in debt.
City officials said Urban Commons was still on the verge of failing its lease obligations and worked to prevent the sale of leases to new bidders until the issue was resolved.
The city’s formal opposition was filed on May 14, and court documents show that the ship’s lifeboat and lifeboat support system show significant signs of corruption and deterioration and need to be removed and replaced. It outlines additional urgent safety concerns regarding the ship, including.
The April inspection also found that the key items outlined in the 2015 survey were “almost not started at this time.”
Urban Commons principal Howard Wu said in a statement that income was almost exhausted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But we will continue to do everything we can to help our recovery and maintain a vibrant future that we believe is in the near future,” Wu said.
Some of the people who knew the Queen Mary best weren’t surprised by the spectacular amount needed to protect the ship.
“The city couldn’t keep up with the maintenance of the ship, no matter who leased it,” said Ed Pribonic, who spent nearly 30 years as a monthly inspector for the Queen Mary. He cited asbestos and electrical wiring issues as some of his greatest concerns about ship safety and stability.
According to Pribonic, the city often tried to downplay his critical reports, which recorded the deterioration of the ship over the years. His contract ended in 2019.
He likes the Queen Mary and wants it to stabilize, but Pribonic says, “It will take money and time. I don’t know who will step up and take responsibility for it. What are we? We’re talking about millions of dollars of work for years. “
In addition to the imminent and serious repairs, the city also raised questions about the Urban Commons. Use of COVID-19 Relief LoanAccording to court documents, $ 23 million was spent on bond income and tidal flat trust funds issued in 2017 to address some of the ship’s significant repairs, many of which have not been completed. ..
That number is above the urgent $ 23 million item outlined during the April inspection.
Wu said the company worked with the city to create a budget and repairs were “decided and planned together.”
“The Queen will always have a list of repairs to be prioritized together between the borrower and the city, as was done with the $ 23 million advance for emergency repairs three years ago,” he said. Told. “The money was directed to the city’s highest priority repairs at the time, and each project and cost was openly and transparently determined.”
In a statement last month, Long Beach officials reaffirmed the city’s opposition to the sale of the lease, arguing that the issue was well documented and that the city did not have to spend its own money repairing the ship.
John Keithler, director of economic development at Long Beach, said in a memo on May 20 that the city would “work with the bankruptcy court to achieve the best results that will lead the ship to long-term success.”
At a recent press conference, Garcia said the Queen Mary “should be absolutely protected.”
Once the world’s largest ship, the Queen Mary transported royalty, celebrities and politicians during the heyday of the 1930s. After the start of World War II, it was painted gray, converted into an army carrying Allied soldiers, and nicknamed “Gray Ghost” for its speed and disguised color.
Before its final trip to Long Beach, it was eventually refurbished to its former glorious glory and has been attracting visitors ever since.
Wu Economic impact before the pandemic According to the report, $ 115.2 million in spending from visitors, tourists and event vendors related to the Queen Mary in Los Angeles County will result in $ 205.3 million in 2019 and $ 6.1 million. It generated tax revenues and supported more than 2,200 jobs.
“The Queen Mary’s operating margin was always low, and while it was negative during major repairs and refurbishments, our commitment to her heritage and preservation never diminished,” he said. I did.
Despite myriad problems, some have said that preserving the legendary ship, one of the National Trusts for historic preservation, is worth the hurdle.Historic Hotels of America.. “
“The Queen Mary saves for many reasons, including its historical importance as one of the fastest and most spectacular ships of its time, its important role in WWII troop transport, and its unique sense of location. Worth it. [and] It’s one of the best examples of Art Deco décor, “said Lawrence Ho Witz, Executive Vice President of Historic Hotels of America.
Horwitz also said the ship has played a valuable role in tourism, with millions of visitors coming to see the Queen Mary during the decades at Long Beach.
Opposition to the sale of the city’s rent is expected to come before the judge this month, officials said the auction would probably be postponed until the end of this summer.
Long Beach is also considering transferring control of the Queen Mary to the Port of Long Beach Commission, which oversees the Port of Long Beach, and is conducting an investigation to determine the feasibility of the plan.
The Queen Mary has been closed since May 7, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to city officials, the reopening date has not been finalized at this time.
This story was originally Los Angeles Times..