Many readers of this fine publication who are ocean liner and passenger ship enthusiasts, undoubtedly experience mixed emotions when they learn of the imminent departure of yet another iconic vessel for some far flung beach, akin in maritime terms at least, to an Elephant’s Graveyard.
They will harbour in their breasts, at least momentarily, the hope that the liner that is scrapyard bound, will receive a stay of execution. Possibly a sponsor with deep pockets with a persistent support group in tow, who are able to wave a magic wand that will reverse the situation. However, we know that that situation is frequently more hope than reality linked.
A select few though, have escaped the scrap yard’s blow torch. Specifically, the Japanese liner Hikawa Maru in Yokohama, and the Chinese liner Sea World in Shekou, and of course the Queen Mary at Long Beach, California.
The current plight of the SS United States and Queen Elizabeth 2 is a little unclear. As has been widely reported, the QE2 was seemingly positioned to end up living a grand retirement as a luxury hotel in Dubai, however that scenario appears to be more than a little dubious at the moment. While valiant efforts are currently underway to save that greyhound of the oceans, the former Blue Riband winner SS United States, the issues that its support group are encountering, in particular illustrates some of the obstacles to preservation that are ongoing.
However, there appears to be one magnificent exception, the former Holland America Line steamship the Rotterdam V which has demonstrated that survival is possible. But that also has not been an easy ride.
According to Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the renovation of the Rotterdam cost its then owner, the Woonbron public housing corporation, almost 10 times what it had budgeted for the project. Radio Netherlands said that Woonbron invested 240 million euros (about $327 million) into the project, after initially budgeting 25 million euros. The ship was originally commissioned for $17 million.
Returning to her original name after undergoing an extensive restoration, she returned to her birth place and former old home port in 2010 to a heroine’s welcome and the Rotterdam has begun a new life as a museum, hotel, and training centre.