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RMS Queen Mary

Vessel type Ocean liner
Year launched 1934
Cargo type Passenger
Country of build Scotland

The RMS Queen Mary had an exciting history from hosting celebrities and politicians to being nicknamed 'The Grey Ghost' during its service in the Second World War.

The build

Construction on the RMS Queen Mary, or Yard No. 534 as it was known before its launching ceremony, began on 27 December 1930 at John Brown & Company's shipyard on Clydeside. However, on 11 December 1931, due to prevailing economic conditions Yard No. 534 was left to lie unattended gathering 130 tons of rust.

On 3 April 1934 work began again after a loan from the British government and the RMS Queen Mary was launched on 26 September 1934. The ship was named Queen Mary in a launching ceremony performed by King George V and Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary had a grt of 81,237 and had an overall length of 1,019 ft.

The ship was designed to carry 2,139 passengers plus 1,101 crew members. The luxurious accommodation for passengers was a key feature; the ship contained five dining areas and lounges, two cocktail bars, swimming pools, a grand ballroom, a squash court and even a small hospital.


Two years after its launch, on 24 March 1936, the Queen Mary sailed down the Clyde for Southampton ready for its first Atlantic crossing to New York. In the Queen Mary's prime, the ship ran a weekly five-day service across the Atlantic.

The Queen Mary also served as a troopship during the Second World War, transporting nearly a million troops during this time. The Queen Mary was refitted and painted wartime grey camouflage; this, coupled with its submarine-defying speed, earned the ship the nickname 'The Grey Ghost'. The ship was capable of transporting as many as 16,000 troops at 30 knots.

After a refit at the end of the war, the Queen Mary was ready to resume passenger service again on 21 July 1947.

Claim to fame

The Queen Mary was known to have hosted a range of famous guests from presidents and prime ministers to royalty and Hollywood stars. Guests included the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, and Fred Astaire.

RMS Queen Mary Fact File


After 31 years of service with Cunard, travelling over 3.7 million miles and carrying more than 2,115,000 passengers, the Queen Mary was retired due to the increasing popularity of air travel.

At a sealed bid auction in London on 24 July 1967, the city of Long Beach, California purchased the Queen Mary for a sum of $3.4 million (£1.3 million). On 31 October 1967 the Queen Mary left Southampton for the last time on a 14,000-mile voyage south round Cape Horn, arriving at Long Beach on 9 December 1967. The Queen Mary now resides there as a floating hotel, museum and conference centre.


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