13 December 2011

Hitting Back with No. 534

On this day in 1933:

Before she was christened "Queen Mary"


Measure Urged as Helping Industry and Defence in War



White Star-Cunard Amalgamation Indicated by Neville Chamberlain

(Associated Press Cable)

London, December 13.--Declaring that Great Britain should "hit back and hit hard at aggressive countries fighting" her shipping, Walter Runciman at Ville Marie despite the Trade, said tonight a subsidy for tramp ships was being considered by the Government.

Not only would it aid industry, he said in the House of Commons, but it would be a defence measure in the event of war.

Mr. Runciman's statement followed that today of Neville Chamberlain, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that an early merger of the great Cunard and White Star North Atlantic shipping lines is indicated.

When the merger is completed, Mr. Chamberlain asserted, he will present a programme for facillitating completion of the huge Cunard liner 534, which would be the largest ship afloat.

Work on the 534 was suspended more than a year ago but if Government assistance is received it is expected to be operated jointly by the Cunard and White Star companies.

The 534 would be a super-liner, costing approximately $25,000,000 and with a tonnage of 78,000 tons. Mr. Chamberlain said discussion of whether a sister ship to it would be constructed should be deferred.

Mr. Runciman said the Government also is "taking into account disabilities under which British lines labored," referring to the United States' ban on foreign coastwise shipping.

It appears to be, he continued, "a very unjust thing that the United States should regard a trip from New York to Honolulu as coastwise traffic. But if we were to make anything like a rejoinder to that we must bear in mind we have a large interest in foreign trade and would expose a very broad track for attack."

VOTED DOWN 221-34.

An opposition proposal for public ownership of shipping and ship-building was voted down by the House, 221-43.

Mr. Runciman said "the experience of the United States and Australia was sufficient to dispose of this idea to hand the merchant navy over to the Government." He deplored what he described as the failure of other big countries to support Britain's anti-subsidy policy.

Sir Robert Horne had previously declared the United States Government lost nearly $400,000,000 in an attempt to run its shipping and that Australia, Canada and France incurred similar losses.

Shipping circles have predicted that not only would the Government enable completion of number 534 (the only name the vessel has, since it is uncompleted) but would also construct a sister ship.

Negotiations between the Cunard and White Star Lines have been long drawn out. Meanwhile, the steel hulk of the 534 lay on the Clydebank stocks. About $9,600,000 has already been spent on the vessel. Contracts for it were let in December, 1930.

Operation of the boat is understood to be one of the principal objects of the Cunard-White Star amalgamation. Another is elimination of competition, one of the Government's conditions for giving assistance.

France's potential rival to the 534, the luxury liner Normandie, of 60,000 gross tons with a 70,000-ton displacement, will likely be commissioned early next year. It was launched last fall. It was built at a cost of approximately $30,000,000.

(source: The Montreal Gazette)

12 December 2011

High Hopes in Hard Times

On this day in 1931:

Queen Mary under construction (photo: Stewart Bale)


Government Cannot Assist.


(British Official Wireless.)

LONDON, December. 12. The decision to suspend construction work on the 73,000 tons Cunard liner, a stoppage which will affect thousands of workers in Clyde shipyards and many more indirectly in industries providing equipment, was the subject of a statement by the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Walter Runciman) at question time in the House of Commons, and of speeches by Clydeside members and others in the discussion on the adjournment.

Mr. Runciman, who was asked whether Government would do anything in the matter, replied that the idea of direct Government assistance was out of the question, but if the Cunard Company had any proposals to make the Government would give them the most serious consideration. The Government's hope was that circumstances would permit of the building of the ship to be resumed before long.

The chairman of the Cunard Company indicated the desire of the company to resume the building of the ship, with which they hoped to regain the Blue Riband of the Atlantic at the earliest moment possible.

Meantime, the ship will remain on the stocks and the work already done is not likely to suffer damage by a postponement of further operations.

Three thousand shipwrights and male and female clerical workers have left the shipyard. It is understood that 1200 will remain as a skeleton staff to shore up the hill in order to safeguard the structure. Sections of the drawing office and clerical staff will be retained. The Clydebank Council is organising to relieve distress among the unemployed.

(Source: The Sydney Morning Herald)

04 December 2011

Besieged By Spies

On this day in 1931:

Foreign Agents Spying On Giant British Ship

Every Effort Made to Secure Secrets of Construction of 73,000 Ton Liner Now Being Built at Clydebank. Stranger's Camera Plate Destroyed. Guarded Like a Fort.
GLASGOW (By mail) -- Foreign spies have invaded Glasgow during the past six months trying to discover the secrets of the design of the great new 73,000-ton liner which is being built for the Cunard Company to establish Britain's mercantile marine supremacy.

The future Queen Mary in 1931.

In spite of all kinds of devices they have failed.

Very shortly official details of the great ship will be published, but only because it is too late for foreign rivals to copy these secrets before the most wonderful ship the world has ever known is put into commission.

Many people must have wondered why the builders -- Messrs. John Brown and Co. -- have preserved so deep a secrecy.

Why They Failed.

Here is a masterpiece of British industry of which any Briton might well be proud. She has been guarded as strictly as a new British warship at a naval dockyard.

The truth is that the moment the giant keel was laid spies besieged the Clyde. They hoped to convey sufficient information to their principals abroad to enable them to forestall the new liner.

They have failed because of the vigilance of the builders and the honest pride and loyalty of the British workmen engaged on this immense undertaking.

When the full story is known, it will make as thrilling a tale as [illegible] narratives of war espionage.

One of the big secrets of the vessel lies in the construction of the bows, a development of [illegible] known as the bulbous pattern.

They give her greater speed and greater stability so that it is believe sea-sickness will be eliminated.

But the giant boat is a [illegible] secrets which would be worth a fortune to rival shipyards.

Sworn to Secrecy

All sorts of subterfuges have been employed by strangers to [illegible] her. Foreign agents disguised as workmen have tried to [illegible] the yard. In every case they have been detected and thrown out.

In one case a stranger [illegible] gain admittance, and was caught in the act of taking photographs. But he was discovered in time, and the plates in [illegible] were destroyed.

Sentries have been on duty night and day at the shipyard. [Illegible] sentry post is connected by phone. No fort has been so closely guarded. All the workers have been sworn to secrecy.

Even directors of the Cunard Company and of John Brown and Co., though well known to [illegible] have not been admitted without showing special passes.

(Source: Ottawa Citizen)


03 December 2011

Keeping Track of the Queen

On this day in 1948:


The Cunard White Star Liner Queen Mary, which anchored in Cowes Roads for 24 hours after leaving her Southampton berth on Wednesday sailed...for Cherbourg and New York.

Postcard of the Queen Mary off Cowes.

Revised sailing dates...as a result of the fog and strike hold-up, were announced yesterday.

The Queen Elizabeth is due back at Southampton on December 12 and the Queen Mary on December 14.

Both liners will make one more round trip voyage before the end of the year. The Queen Elizabeth will leave Southampton on December 15, returning on December 27, and the Queen Mary is scheduled to leave on December 17 and to return on December 29.

(Source: Glasgow Herald)

02 December 2011

Dignitaries On Board

Arriving at Southampton from New York aboard the R. M. S. Queen Mary on this day in 1947:

Mr. Andrei Vyshinsky, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs (who told interviewers in his cabin that "some of the U.N. work was good. Some was bad. I am not completely satisfied.")

Jan Masaryk, Czechoslovakian delegate to the U.N.

Sir Hartley Shawcross, British Attorney General

Hector MacNeil, British Minister of State

(source: Toledo Blade)

British Pathe footage of Vyshinsky (left, shaking hands with Andrei Gromyko), and other U.N. dignitaries arriving in New York aboard the Queen Mary.

01 December 2011

A New Mrs. Simpson

Boarding the Queen Mary on this day in 1937 was Ernest Simpson, the former husband of Wallis Simpson, aka the Duchess of Windsor. He sailed for Britain with his new bride, the former Mary Raffray. Mr. Simpson is pictured here in earlier days with his former wife and her Aunt Bessie.

(Source: New York Times)