Plans to restore the TS Queen Mary are a step closer with much of the necessary funding and support in place to complete the project. Once overhauled, the vessel will be the UK’s first cadet ship, supporting the next generation of the Merchant Navy. Hosting up to 100 cadets per year, students will develop their skills in engineering, navigation and hospitality in preparation for a career in the maritime industry. Sulzer has offered its extensive engineering facilities to repair and refurbish the prop shafts as well as other important components.
Launched in 1933, the TS Queen Mary is a Clyde Turbine Steamer that carried passengers on day excursions until 1977. During this time, high profile guests have included King George VI, Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother), Princess Elizabeth (now HM Queen), Princess Margaret and Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1987 she was refitted to become a restaurant and bar and at this point the machinery was removed, including the external sections of the propeller shafts, which were cut off.
Friends of TS Queen Mary (FOTSQM) is the charity that was set up in 2012 to restore the vessel to her 1930s glory. In 2015, the charity took ownership of the ship and started raising funds for her revival. In 2018, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal became the charity’s Royal Patron and has been spearheading the campaign to restore the famous steamer.
The vessel is now the last of her kind in the world and is listed in the Core 40 fleet of the UK’s National Historic Ship register, as a ship of national pre-eminence. Sulzer will be supporting this meaningful project through its York Service Center, where some of the company’s apprentices will take part in works to help create the UK’s first cadet ship.
Ross Barraclough, Regional Director – Central for Sulzer, comments: “This ship is such an important, historic vessel, it is essential that we make every effort to give it a new lease of life and pay tribute to the maritime history of the Clyde. At the same time, we are proud to be supporting the next generation of marine cadets while our own apprentices are learning invaluable skills on this project.”
TS Queen Mary will be built back better with the help and support of many UK businesses working together, bringing the cultural and heritage icon back into daily use. By 2021 the project had raised GBP 3.4 million in cash and in-kind support from private philanthropy and corporate support.
The restoration project has been underway since 2016. Various efforts to uncover any engineering drawings, either the originals or those from work completed in 1987 and 1997, have proved fruitless. As a result, a complete survey of the ship has been undertaken as part of the recent dry-docking and a full 3D scan has also been captured.
The first project being carried out by Sulzer is the renewal of the prop shafts, which each measure around 25 meters in length. The three shafts have a modular design and Sulzer will, as part of the project, have to remanufacture the sections that were cut in half when the ship was refitted in 1987. In addition to this, the dimensions will need to be updated from pre-war imperial so that bearings and seals can be easily sourced in the future.
Ross concludes: “This project is about UK manufacturing and engineering coming together to restore an important piece of our maritime history. We have an opportunity to help the next generation learn new skills and enable this unique vessel to once again convey passengers to ports around the UK.”