RMS Queen Elizabeth

From Academic Kids

RMS Queen Elizabeth was a steam-powered ocean liner of the Cunard Steamship Company. It was launched at the John Brown & Company Shipbuilding and Engineering shipyard at Clydebank, Scotland, on September 27, 1938, and retired from service in 1968. Queen Elizabeth was the largest passenger steamship ever constructed and held the record for the largest passenger ship of any kind until being surpassed in 1996. The ship was named for Queen Elizabeth, the wife of King George VI of the United Kingdom and queen consort at the time it was built.

After the outbreak of World War II, the original plans for its maiden voyage were scrapped, and instead, the Queen Elizabeth secretly steamed for New York City on March 3, 1940. Refitted for naval use in Singapore and Sydney, the Queen Elizabeth and its running mate, the R.M.S. Queen Mary, were used as troop transports during the war. Their high speeds allowed them to outrun hazards, foremostly German U-boats, allowing them to travel without a convoy. During its naval career, Queen Elizabeth carried more than 750,000 troops and sailed some 500,000 miles.

For several decades after the war, the Queen Elizabeth together with the Queen Mary dominated the transatlantic passenger trade until their fortunes began to decline with the advent of the faster and more economical airplane. For a short time, the Queen Elizabeth served a dual role; when not plying its usual transatlantic route, it operated as a cruise ship travelling between New York and Nassau. Cunard retired both ships by 1969 and replaced them with a single, smaller ship, the RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 (the QE2). The QE2 was named after the Queen Elizabeth, being the second ship to bear the name.

In 1968, the Queen Elizabeth was sold to a group of Philadelphia businessmen who intended to operate the ship as a hotel and tourist attraction (similar to the Queen Mary in Long Beach California) in Port Everglades, Florida. Losing money and forced to close after being declared a fire hazard, it was sold in 1970 to Hong Kong tycoon Tung Chao Yung, who intended to transform it into a mobile, floating university. Renamed the Seawise University, it was destroyed by fire (believed to have been arson) on January 9, 1972, in Hong Kong harbour. The hulk is briefly shown and commented on in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, when James Bond, traveling from Macao to Hong Kong by hydrofoil, passes nearby. James is later taken to a secret MI6 headquarters located within the wreck. The Queen Elizabeth was scrapped where it lay in 1975.


  • Butler, D. A. (2002). Warrior Queens: The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in World War II (1st ed.). Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books.
  • Galbraith, R. (1988). Destiny's Daughter: The Tragedy of RMS Queen Elizabeth. Vermont: Trafalgar Square.da:RMS Queen Elizabeth

de:RMS Queen Elizabeth fi:RMS Queen Elizabeth


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