Cunard Line celebrated a milestone when a prefabricated section of the keel was lowered into the building dock of Queen Mary
2. The new $800-million Cunard flagship will enter service in January 2004 and will be the largest, longest, tallest and most expensive passenger ship ever built.
The keel is the lower part of the outer hull and is the base of the ship upon which everything else is built. Cunard chose July 4, 2002, as the
date of its official ceremony because it is 162 years to the day that its first ship, Britannia, sailed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to Halifax and Boston.
The first liner to be built since the line's Queen Elizabeth 2 entered service in 1969, QM2 is the first ship for Cunard by the renowned French shipyard Alstom Chantiers de l'Atlantique, one of world's most technically advanced shipbuilders who have built such famous luxury liners as Normandie, France and Ile de France.
"Today marks the start of a new era for Cunard," said Pamela Conover
, Cunard's president and chief operating officer. "We are not only
laying the keel for the greatest ocean liner ever built, but laying the foundation for the company's future growth and enduring success."
Patrick Boissier, chairman and CEO of Alstom Chantiers, added: "Queen Mary 2 will be the zenith of shipbuilding today. All of our employees
and partners associated with this project are committed to delivering the most magnificent Cunarder ever."
Conover and Boissier marked the occasion by the placing of coins under the first section of the keel. A commemorative £5 Queen's Golden Jubilee coin symbolized Great Britain and a silver French Franc was chosen to represent France
, the country of her birth. The ceremonial gesture, believed to have originated in Ancient
Greece, is said to bring good luck. For the last six decades, there has always been a Cunard "Queen" on the sea. In the spirit of her predecessors, QM2 will be resplendent with grandeur and elegance, while at the same time featuring contemporary style and amenities and the latest technological innovations. She will feature classic Cunard hallmarks such as sweeping staircases, expansive promenades, stylish restaurants and public rooms of an imposing scale. The sheer size of the vessel, 150,000 tonnes, has enabled the line to create a space ratio per passenger of 57.25, making her among the grandest of the world's larger passenger ships.
Queen Mary 2: In a royal league of her own
Cunard Line's 2,620-passenger QM2 will represent the pinnacle of maritime achievement. Because she is a prototype of such unique design, the
multi-million-dollar project employs teams of naval architects, engineers and maritime experts, including the marine interior design firms of
SMC-Tillberg and designteam, both based in London.
The liner's handsome, traditional exterior lines are being complemented by stylish interiors that carry the grace and elegance of a bygone era into the future. Facilities include 1,310 fully equipped staterooms and suites, nearly three quarters of which will have a private
balcony, and a variety of passenger spaces, from a majestic, three-storey dining room to
intimate bars and lounges to the first sea-going planetarium.
On the technical side, the QM2 powerplant will include two gas turbines and four diesel engines. More than two-thirds of this energy will
be used to power a state-of-the-art MermaidTM Pod Propulsion System, comprised of two fixed and two azimuthing pod units. The first four-pod
installation to date, the powerful new system will provide a speed of nearly 30 knots with low noise and vibration levels and maximum maneuverability.