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RMS Queen Mary 2

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Ordered:6 November 2000
Laid down:4 July 2002
Launched:25 September 2003
Christened:8 January 2004
Maiden Voyage:12 January 2004
Fate:in service
General Characteristics
Displacement:approximately 150,000 gross tons
Length:345 metres (1,132 feet)
Beam:41 metres (135 feet) waterline,
                     45 metres (147.5 feet) extreme (bridge wings)
Draft:10 metres (32 feet 10 inches)
Height:72 metres (236.2 feet) keel to funnel (includes 17 passenger decks)
Power:157,000 horsepower gas turbine/diesel electric plant
Propulsion:Four 21.5 MW pods: 2 fixed and 2 azimuthing
Speed:approximately 30 knots
Complement:2,620 passengers, 1,253 officers and crew
Armament:none currently fitted
Cost:UK£550 million (US$800 million)

"I name the ship Queen Mary 2. May God bless her and all who sail in her." --Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen Mary 2 is a Cunard Line passenger ship named for the earlier Cunard liner Queen Mary, which was in turn named for Mary of Teck. At the time of her construction in 2003, the Queen Mary 2 was in every dimension the largest passenger ship ever built. Her luxuries include 15 restaurants and bars, five swimming pools, a casino, a ballroom, and a planetarium.

The Queen Mary 2 (QM2) is the current Cunard flagship and makes regular transatlantic crossings. The ship was constructed to replace the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), which was the Cunard flagship from 1969 to 2003. The first RMS Queen Mary sailed the Atlantic from 1936 to 1967.

The ship prefix "RMS" is affixed to the QM2, which used to stand for "Royal Mail Steamer," but which now stands for "Royal Mail Ship." The QM2 is not a steamship like her predecessors, but is powered by gas turbines and diesel engines. In addition, her predecessors were all transatlantic ocean liners but the QM2 is considered a transatlantic cruise liner.

While the QM2 is the largest passenger ship, there are larger ships. A 461-meter supertanker, the Jahre Viking, built in 1979, currently holds the record for sheer size.

Chronology of Construction

Cunard completed a design for a new class of 84,000-ton, 2000-passenger liners on 8 June 1998, but upon comparing those specifications with Carnival Cruise Line's 100,000-ton Destiny-class cruise ships and Royal Caribbean's 137,200-ton Voyager of the Seas, immediately enlarged them.

Six months later, on 10 December, Cunard released details of "Project Queen Mary," the project to develop a liner that would compliment Queen Elizabeth 2. Aker Kværner of Norway, Fincantieri of Italy, Meyer Werft of Germany, and Chantiers de l'Atlantique of France were invited to bid on the project. If construction began immediately, the liner could be in service by 2002. However, it wasn't until 6 November 2000 that a contract was signed with Chantiers de l'Atlantique, a subsidiary of Alstom. The liner was now scheduled to enter service in late 2003.

Her keel was laid down in July 2002 in Saint-Nazaire, France. The QM2 was launched on 21 March 2003 and began her sea trials on 25 September 2003, sailing between Saint-Nazaire and the off-shore islands of Ile d'Yeu and Belle-Ile. The final stages of construction were marred by a fatal accident on 15 November 2003 when a gangway collapsed under a group of shipyard workers and their relatives who had been invited to visit the vessel. About 30 people on the gangway fell over 15 meters (50 feet); 22 were injured and 16, including a child, were killed.

Construction was completed on schedule. Cunard took delivery in Southampton, England on 26 December 2003, and on January 8 2004, the liner was christened Queen Mary 2 by her eponym's granddaughter, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.

On 12 January 2004, the QM2 set sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the United States, carrying 2,620 passengers.

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