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The Queen Mary may be sunk without millions for repairs




According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, plans to repaint the ship are slated to begin later this year. The study called 75 percent of the repairs “urgent.”
According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, plans to repaint the ship are slated to begin later this year. The study called 75 percent of the repairs “urgent.”
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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The Queen Mary in Long Beach is not in shipshape, and needs as much as $289 million for urgent repairs.

Otherwise, it may be sunk — literally.

The Long Beach Press-Telegram has reported that the decommissioned ocean liner and tourist attraction has a number of problems.

Some of those can be seen by visitors before they even board.

"You can see some of the rust that's dripping down the sides of the ship," reporter Courtney Tompkins told Take Two as she stood near the Queen Mary. "You can see peeling paint, large chunks of paint that's flaked off."

However, the ship is plagued by more than cosmetic issues.

"The hull, or the underbelly of the ship, has a lot of rust and corrosion over the years from the exposure to salt water and the elements,"  Tompkins said.

If the hull is breached, then major flooding could send the Queen Mary sinking to the floor of the lagoon where it is docked.

Floorboards on the Queen Mary's deck are loose from lack of maintenance, as demonstrated by KPCC's Leo Duran (Leo Duran/KPCC)

Naval architects report that rehabbing the ship could cost nearly $300 million. The Long Beach City Council in November approved spending $23 million to pay for the most urgent repairs.

The Queen Mary got to this point because of a lack of maintenance.

Long Beach owns the ship and surrounding property but leases it out to companies who are responsible for the upkeep.

"Some criticism that people have had over the years is that the city hasn't done a good job of holding leaseholders accountable," Tompkins said. "But also, there have been statements from the city about the struggle that operators have faced, over the years, to make enough money to put back into the ship."

Urban Commons, the current leaseholder, took over operations of the Queen Mary in November and is trying to address the problems it inherited.

"Our team is already in full swing, making critical structural renovations and repairs to ensure the Queen Mary is well equipped for the next 80 years," Taylor Woods, principal at Urban Commons, said in a statement to KPCC.

But it's unclear where the company or the city will find the rest of the money necessary to bring the ship back to its former glory.

"I think a lot of people are passionate about the ship and the ties that they or their family may have to it," Tompkins said.

Listen to the full interview by clicking the blue audio player above.