14 January 2012

An Iron Rule


From The Horsham Times (Victoria, Australia) on this day in 1936:

THE QUEEN MARY
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LARGEST LINER
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Commander's Duties
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GUESTS ON MAIDEN VOYAGE.
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The man who will rule the greatest community ever put to sea, Sir Edgar Britton [sic], appointed captain of the Queen Mary, arrived in London recently from New York. He said:

"I'm off to the north to see the Queen Mary to-day. The life of a ship's captain sounds easy to some. But there are heavy responsibilities, and I do not get much time for myself. Afloat I am king of a small community:  but no king can rule without efficient Ministers of State, and much of my work would be impossible without tried and trusted officers."

He will be in constant touch with all parts of his ship wherever he goes. There is a bedside telephone which connects with the officer on the bridge. Sir Edgar was asked:  "What about the rule forbidding the wives of captains to travel in the same ship as their husbands?"

"Well, it seems quite natural to me," he replied. "The managing director of a big business does not have his wife sitting in the office every day, does he?  And neither does the commander of a liner. Lady Britton [sic] could not travel in one of the ships I commanded. It is an iron rule."

The Principal Table

Within an hour of the Queen Mary leaving Southampton on her first voyage, Sir Edgar will be faced with his most difficult task. As commander he has to invite certain passengers to sit at his table throughout the trip. He will have names before him representing British society, members of America's Four Hundred, and hundreds of other notable travellers. From these he will have to decide who shall be honored on one of the most momentous voyages ever made.

Elaborate precautions are being taken to ensure that the Queen Mary does not meet with any accident on her difficult 15 mile journey from the Clydebank fitting-out basin to the Tail of the Bank, Firth of Clyde, where she will await her trials. Warning of the fouling of any obstruction on the way will be automatically signalled to the bridge by a sensitive apparatus, which is to be placed under the ship.

Though the journey will take only about five hours, it will be done in two stages, so that the best of two succeeding tides can be used. Between the tides the Queen Mary will be at an old Admiralty wharf at Old Kilpatrick, which will be extensively reconditioned for the occasion.

It is understood that the date of her departure has been provisionally fixed for March 23, but she may not leave until the following day. It is estimated that at the Old Kilpatrick bend there will be only about 10 ft. clearance between the river bank and the liner's propeller blades. To make her as light as possible all but two of her lifeboats will be towed to the Tail of the Bank.

The two pilots, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Murchie, who supervised the canting of the Queen Mary into the fitting-out basin after her launch, will again be in charge.

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