In November 2008 the legendary QE2 arrived in Port Rashid, Dubai, after being sold for US$100 million. The plan was to convert her into a luxury hotel, and dock her permanently at the Palm Jumeirah islands, off the coast of Dubai.
Four years on, QE2 remains at Port Rashid, a victim of the Global Financial Crisis. An expert crew from V-Ships had maintained her in a “warm layup” since her arrival. She runs on her own engines, is cleaned, washed, painted, repaired and looks absolutely superb.
In 2009 it was expected that she would sail to Cape Town for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. To this end, the ship was given a costly refit that allowed her to sail under her own power. However, at the last minute the South African authorities denied QE2 access to the port, and she was returned to Port Rashid, Dubai.
It has been status quo ever since. That is, until last month when her V-Ship’s crew was suddenly removed from the ship, and replaced by a new Chinese crew. This sparked immediate rumours and speculation that the great liner had been sold as scrap to a Chinese ship breaker.
Just days before Christmas, news broke in the Scottish Daily Mail that ‘QE2 had been sold for scrap’, which resulted in an outcry of emotion from people all over the globe.
Hundreds of angry people flooded the Cunard Line (QE2’s former owner) Facebook and YouTube pages, demanding that QE2 be saved. This resulted in Cunard Line making a formal statement advising that people should “ignore” the rumours about QE2’s imminent scrapping. To the best of Cunard’s knowledge, these rumours are untrue.
However, out of despair over the potential loss of QE2 to the breakers torch, a positive story has emerged. It was revealed in both the Daily Mail article, and later on the BBC that a consortium known as ‘QE2 London’ have made a £20m bid for QE2, with the plan to return her to the UK and dock her in London, near the Millennium Dome (O2 Arena) as a hotel. It is reported that the QE2’s owners have rejected this offer, which fuelled the scrapping rumours, however the ‘QE2 London’ consortium are not giving QE2 up without a fight.
Their plan includes a further £40m refurbishment and will create over 2,000 jobs in London, leading to support from Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as noted London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Official images of ‘QE2 London’ were released through ‘The QE2 Story Forum’, leading to widespread support from the general public for this plan. Of the fate facing QE2, Robert Lightbody, ‘The QE2 Story Forum’ founder (and the only person to have been officially allowed to board and document QE2 since she arrived in Dubai) said, ‘I do not believe there is any substantive proof that she is going for scrap. She is a legend of the seas, British Built, British Designed, British Owned, British Flagged. She needs to be saved by Britain.’
2013 will be an important year in the life of this famed 45-year-old vessel. Her fate will surely be decided in the early months of this year.
You can help save the QE2. Show your support by tagging your Twitter tweets with #savetheQE2 and #QE2LONDON – you can also show your support at www.facebook.com/chriscunard , www.facebook.com/theqe2story and www.theqe2story.com/forum.
By Chris Frame, Maritime Historian and Author