Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Great Queen Mary Propeller Hunt

When the Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach, CA in 1967, it was agreed that she would be decommissioned and become incapable of sailing anywhere under her own power. All twenty-seven of the ship's boilers were dismantled, along with both turbo generator rooms and the forward engine room. Three of her four massive propellers were also removed as a part of this process. Someone asked me what happened to them over the summer, and I had to confess to her that I didn't know. But that set me on a quest to try and find out what happened to the Queen Mary's propellers.

The first one is still attached to the ship and on display in a specially-built box. Each of these screws are 18 feet in diameter, weigh a total of 32 tons and made of manganese bronze. They were so delicately balanced, however, that the slightest push in drydock would actually spin them.

Turns out that I really didn't have all that far to go for the next two propellers. This one is displayed near the entrance of Carnival Cruise Line's parking structure on the other end of the property. It used to be mounted in the Queen Mary Seaport Village but was moved a few years ago due to renovations.

Here's a close-up on the plaque located nearby.

The third prop is actually located a little behind the second one. I couldn't get too close to it, but I've had it confirmed by two different people that it indeed belongs to the Queen Mary (and why else would would there be another ship's propeller on the property?). Makes sense to me.

The Queen Mary's fourth and final screw is located at the Los Angeles Maritime Museum in nearby San Pedro, CA. This one actually took a bit of searching. It wasn't marked at all, nor was it remotely close to the main entrance. If you look way, way to the left you'll see it. There also seemed to be a bit of confusion inside as well: the lady at the front desk said it didn't belong to the Grand Old Lady while the man in the radio room upstairs said it did. Upon closer examination, however, this propeller does bear the inscription of J Stone & Co. Ltd - the makers of the Queen Mary's screws. So there's no doubt about it whatsoever.

One of them used to be on display in Los Angeles' Exhibition Park; I remember seeing it there on a field trip way back when. I've heard it said that it was the one at the Maritime Museum, but I have no way to confirm or deny this.

It also seems that there was a fifth propeller. This one was a spare, I understand, and melted down when the Queen Mary came to Long Beach to be used for things like commemorative coins, tie clips and the like.

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