13 September 2010

Behind The Scenes

From the article "Passengers on Modern Liners See Only Fraction of Vessel" in The Pittsburgh Press on this day in 1936:

Crossing the Atlantic in modern comfort, the present day ocean traveler little realizes that aside from the swimming pools, gymnasiums, the many public rooms and staterooms, he actually is able to explore only a fraction of a present-day liner.

To the average passenger, the promenade deck and the shopping center are considered the "Main Street" of a superliner, but to the seafarer the "Main Street" is the working alleyway, buried far below decks and rarely seen by the voyager.

The passengers are aware, too, that there is machinery aboard, but they are blissfully ignorant of the mysterious propulsive power that throbs somewhere within the liner's vitals....the vessel's enormous boilers, her powerful turbines and auxiliary machinery are known only to an initiated few.

Passengers aboard the Cunard White Star superliner Queen Mary may have counted the elevators in their respective classes--seven for cabin, two for tourist and two for third class--yet these only comprise half the elevators in the ship. The service elevators bring stewards with trays to the various decks at a speed of 200 feet a minute: two more elevators traveling at half that speed handle baggage.

Three storage room elevators bring food, water and linen supplies from decks below to the various kitchens, pantries and closets. One engineer's elevator, for terminal service only, and one engine room stores elevator handle engine room supplies and carry the engine room staff to and from their posts. Moreover, there are dumbwaiters which accommodate trays of food and drink.

Forward on A deck of the Queen Mary is located the fore hatch, for use in loading cargo. While the Queen Mary, being primarily a passenger ship, carries only about 1000 tons of cargo, this fore hatch was made extra large for use in loading and unloading autos. Her cargo derrick can accommodate all of five tons at one time. Special electric hoists and chutes are used in handling the tons of mail carried on each voyage.

In the after part of the vessel are located two engine room hatches. Only one engine hatch is constructed in ordinary liners, but the Queen Mary's propulsive equipment is so vast--extending 800 feet along the vessel's hold--that two hatches were designed to facilitate reaching any part of the machinery. These hatches also provide ventilation and serve as two vertical steel caissons into which deck plates are tightly woven, thus providing added strength and safety.

Passing over the ship's 16 great turbines, her 27 enormous boilers, her three air-cooling systems, her 50 miles of plumbing pipes, her 60,000 cubic feet of refrigerating space and her weighty steering gear--the largest ever installed in any liner--the tour is concluded with a stop in the ship's telephone exchange located aft on B deck. Here four telephone girls answer passenger calls in crisp British accents and daily transmit thousands of inter-ship and ship-to-ship messages to all parts of the world. During the maiden crossing of the Queen Mary these girls handled a record number of calls for any liner.

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