Today in History: Queen Elizabeth cruise ship up in flames

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - JANUARY 9, 2015

On the 9th of January 1972, the cruise ship “Queen Elizabeth” caught fire in Victoria harbour, Hong Kong.

Having been built by John Brown & Co Ltd in Clydebank, Glasgow, the liner was launched in September of 1938. It was the largest cruise-liner at the time and would remain so for several decades to come. She had a gross tonnage of over 83 000 tons and could carry almost 2300 passengers upon her steel design in luxury far exceeding many other passenger-liners.

However, shortly after her construction, the Second World War broke out. As a result, she was painted grey, to protect her from German bombers, and later sent off to New York harbour. She would eventually be converted into a troop-carrier, armed and, in essence, a war-machine. She valiantly served multiple allied nations throughout the war effort.

On 16th October 1946, the Queen Elizabeth set out on her maiden passenger voyage – travelling from Southampton to New York. Her final voyage would take place in early November of 1968.

She would eventually be bought by a Hong Kong based shipping company who intended to convert the great passenger-liner into a university. She arrived at her destination in mid-1971, after which she was named Seawise University.

However, as soon as this dream was realised, so too was it destroyed in the flames which ultimately capsized the magnificent ship. Arson was claimed as the culprit in the wake of a great ship’s service to the history of sea-travel.   

 

Image courtesy of: www.findingdulcinea.com