28 May 2009

Rule Britannia

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on this day in 1936:


Britain's Superliner Is Given Rousing Send-Off.




Giant Vessel, Latest In Every Particular, Carries Crew Of 1,200.


By Universal Service
     SOUTHAMPTON, England, May 27.-Britain's new superliner, the Queen Mary, was given a rousing sendoff by 500,000 Britons who cheered her departure from here today on her maiden voyage to New York. 
     Britain's bid to regain supremacy of the North Atlantic passenger trade, the Queen Mary is due in New York harbor officially Monday, but there was every hint the liner may break the transatlantic record by docking Sunday night.
    Although tonight her 2,140 passengers were abuzz with expectation that they will be riding the new speed queen of the Atlantic when the Queen Mary cuts past Nantucket light, Captain Sir Edgar Britten, master of the new 80,773-ton beauty of the seas, was noncommittal. The crew numbered 1,200.
Planes Dive in Salute.
    The puffing tugs nosed the mighty liner into mid-stream to the blare of "Rule Britannia," played by a marine band on the quayside. 
    Roaring airplanes dived in salute from the crowded piers and from vessels in the harbor came wave after wave of cheers that broke in a thunderous surf.
     Shipmasters tied their siren lanyards down. The harbor echoed and re-echoed the ear-splitting din. Back bellowed the Queen Mary's voice, deep toned sirens that are audible ten miles at sea. 
     For fifteen minutes there was pandemonium. Finally the Queen Mary, swung around by the toiling tugs, slipped down the harbor under their escort.  
     The sky was overcast, but despite the ugly weather thousands more had lined the banks of the Solent to cheer the queen as she put to sea, carrying their hopes that her mighty turbines, developing 200,000 horsepower, will driver her across the finish line of the North Atlantic race course the holder of a speed record that was lost to Britain by the Mauretania in 1930.
     And as the Queen Mary moved out to make her challenge her boiling wash slapped the rusted sides of the tired Majestic, once the largest ship afloat and once the North Atlantic title holder. The Majestic is being scrapped.
     Present speed mistress of the North Atlantic is the Queen Mary's French rival, the Normandie, whose maiden crossing last year was made in 4 days, 11 hours and 42 minutes, at an average speed of 29.68 knots, which on a subsequent crossing was stepped up to 32.84 knots. 
     Somewhere near mid-Atlantic the Queen Mary and the Normandie will salute each other. The Normandie left New York early today. 
     If "Rule Britannia" was an auspice that a record-breaking debut run is expected of the Queen Mary, the fact that the royal standard of the queen, after whom the ship is named, was unfurled opposite the main hall, was even more. Beside it stood an autographed picture of King Edward and two of his mother.
     Aboard also was a representative of the royal family, Lord Milford-Haven, cousin of King Edward. 

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