Harris Helps Long Beach Revive the Legendary Queen Mary

Long Beach, CA – 

Built in the 1930s, Queen Mary became the greatest ocean liner in the world. Now, the City of Long Beach is preparing to make her an even greater asset to the public. The Harris team is proud to be involved in the process.

After a stint as a troop transport in World War II, during which she was known as the “Grey Ghost,” Queen Mary spent two decades sending wealthy passengers back and forth across the Atlantic on luxurious voyages. Hollywood celebrities and even Winston Churchill were known to have enjoyed her voyages.

Her final cruise ended in Long Beach, California in 1967. Having earned her spot on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, she now serves as a floating hotel, attraction, and event venue in Southern California.

More than 50 years after retirement, Queen Mary only remains open for limited hours due to her condition. The pandemic only made matters worse: The ship closed during that time and fell into serious disrepair.

For Queen Mary to fully open, her decades-old safety features require enhancement and repair. In this spirit, The City of Long Beach’s Public Works department recruited Harris to help with their Priority Repairs Project.

Our team is providing project management, construction management, and job order contracting (JOC) program support services for each phase of this this novel endeavor.

Modernizing a piece of history
While the work isn’t finished, Harris has completed several projects in repairing Queen Mary.

To provide power for a boat designed nearly a century ago, we purchased and installed a 500-KVA emergency generator with multiple safety switches and breakers inside a chain link fence enclosure.

Modernizing Queen Mary’s distribution and fire alarm system posed a similar challenge. We integrated motor control centers, sensors, a new fire alarm system, power and signal conduits, and conductors. The entire arrangement is controlled by a modern programmable device.

To discharge any potential water intrusion from the hull of the ship or water discharge from firefighting activities, the team installed 11 bilge pumps at the lower level of the ship.

Finally, we removed the ship’s lifeboats, which were pressing on the davit system and causing cracks alongside the ship’s exterior. As part of this subproject, we also repaired two bulkheads and installed seven pump towers.

Smooth sailing ahead
With Queen Mary’s reopening, the City has possibly turned a sunk cost into an economic engine. The ship’s previous operator had filed for bankruptcy in 2021 with over $500 million in debt. When no bidders vied to buy the ship’s lease, the City of Long Beach took control of the property for the first time since 1978.

Johnny Vallejo, Long Beach’s deputy economic development director, is confident that Queen Mary’s opening to the public will be an economic boon to the city. “The limited number of tours the city offered last year filled up within hours, if not minutes,” he said. We’ve been proud to work with the City of Long Beach to help ensure the Queen Mary and its hotel will be safe and available for public enjoyment more often in the very near future.

About Harris

Harris is a 100% employee-owned company focused on helping communities solve today's complex challenges in planning, financing, environmental compliance, civil engineering, and construction management. Our offices and project sites span the West Coast in California and Washington with a staff of over 260 employee-owners. We focus on serving clients in the municipal, water, transportation, and education markets. www.WeAreHarris.com

For More Information

Ehab Gerges, PE
Chief Business Development Officer / Program + Construction Management Division President

Mark Nassar, PE
Vice President / Program + Construction Management

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