Sunday, January 9, 2011

39 Years Ago: The Death of the Queen Elizabeth

It was 39 years ago today that fire swept through and destroyed the RMS Queen Elizabeth, which had been renamed the SS Seawise University. The liner had been sold to Mr. C.Y. Tung of Hong Kong who had the intention of turning her into a traveling school (similar to the Semester at Sea program that exists today). Shortly before her debut in this new role, however, several fires broke out aboard the former Lizzie on January 9, 1972 and completely destroyed her. Twisted, broken and burnt out, she would lay in disgrace until finally broken up between 1974 and 1975. Although much of the ship was scrapped it is estimated that as much as 50% of the former Queen Elizabeth still sits underwater in Hong Kong Harbor.

A memorial was established outside of Mr. Tung's headquarters in Torrance, California following the liner's destruction. It incorporated one of her massive anchors as well as a "Q" and "E" from her bow letters. A similar monument was put up in New York City and utilized the other set of letters.

The loss of any ship is tragic; especially one as beautiful and historically significant as the Queen Elizabeth. She lives on, however, in the hearts and minds of those who sailed aboard her; as well as those who wish they could have.

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