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City Of Long Beach Takes Control Of The Beleaguered Queen Mary

A ground-level view of the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, looking from the bow toward the back of the ship. The distinctive orange and black funnels are visible. A former Soviet submarine called the Scorpion is visible in the foreground, beside the ocean liner.
Queen Mary
(digitizedchaos via the LAist Featured Photos pool)
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For the first time in more than 40 years, the city of Long Beach is taking control of the Queen Mary.

The city owns the historic ocean liner, and previously contracted out to companies to run things day-to-day. A series of operators have been unable to keep up with maintenance and turn a profit. A recent report found the Queen Mary needs $23 million in urgent repairs and potentially hundreds of millions more in deferred maintenance.

Long Beach had been involved in a battle in bankruptcy court with the current operator, Urban Commons. Late last month, the Long Beach Post reported that court filings in the case warned that the ship, which made its maiden voyage from Southhampton, England in 1937, was in danger of flooding or possibly capsizing.

In a black and white image the Queen Mary departs the docks in Southampton, England bound for Long Beach with a crowd waving goodbye.
The ocean liner 'RMS Queen Mary' departs from Southampton Docks, UK, in October, 1967, en route to a permanent mooring at Long Beach.
(Evening Standard/Getty Images
Hulton Archive)
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In a statement on Friday, city officials said Urban Commons decided to suddenly surrender its existing leases.

"We're taking all steps and preparing for all the potential scenarios," said John Keisler, Director of Economic Development for the city of Long Beach. "We're working very hard with our legal team and also looking at the operations with our engineering team, identifying which urgent repairs would need to be done immediately."

Keisler, speaking to our newsroom's public affairs show AirTalk, which airs on 89.3 KPCC, said the city could potentially fund repairs through a combination of cruise ship passenger fees, leases on the land around the ship and the Tidelands fund.

For now, a news release from the city said:

The ship will remain closed to the public while critical repairs are completed, as it is faster and more cost efficient to complete this work when there are no visitors present.

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