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`Queen Mary` Blue Ribband (MP3)

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Unique ID:19416
Description:Junior Officer of the `Queen Mary` talks about the time that Queen Mary broke the Blue Ribband record for transatlantic travel.
Copyright:Southampton City Council
Partner:SCC Oral History Unit
Partner ID:M0041


We never actually held the trophy as such though the Mauritania had held it for a number of years and then the Queen Mary held it for a number more 'til the United States came along. As I mentioned earlier, I was a junior officer on board the Queen Mary when we actually broke the record. To do this we had to maintain a very high speed throughout the voyage. The difficulties of navigating in the ... ships in fog in those pre-war days were absolutely tremendous because there was no radar or anything to detect the presence of other ships, so the only way you could tell there was another ship in the area when you actually heard the siren. Of course with the tremendous amount of noise wind speed over the decks of the Queen's doing 30/32 knots, the whistle of the wind through the rigging and the noise and that sort, it was very very hard to hear a ship's siren and if we were in waters where we were likely to encounter shipping, we always slowed down to 20 knots in order to reduce the wind speed, and then we posted lookouts, we had one on the focsle, one in the crows nest, and one on each side of the wing of the bridge. The Captain took one side of the bridge and the senior officer watched the other and everybody listened intently for another ship's siren, and all you could do if you heard a siren, you decided which bow it was on. If it was on the starboard bow we turned 45 degrees to port, held that course for 12 minutes and then resumed your course again. The thing was that I've often said that the two Queens ... well, the one Queen in the pre-war days, we were really risking our professional career on the mathematical unlikeliness of two large ships arriving at the same point on the Atlantic at such a course as to avoid collision.


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