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Queen Elizabeth

RMS Queen Elizabeth was the sleightly larger sister-ship to the Queen Mary, fulfilling Cunard's objective to have two giant liners crossing the Atlantic on a regular schedule.  Queen Mary was the first to be built, starting her long career in 1936.  The Queen Elizabeth, however; was completed in the John Brown Shipyard just as World War II broke out, and made a secret dash to New York in 1940 with a skeleton-crew onboard, painted in battleship grey, she evaded German U-boats and started her career as a troop ship.  Queen Elizabeth's first peace-time voyage was in 1946, and after a long successful career she was retired from the Cunard Line fleet in 1968.  Queen Elizabeth was purchased by a group planning to position her in Ft Lauderdale as a museum / hotel, similar to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, but unfortunately the group didn't have the money to operate her and she was sold to Taiwanese shipping tycoon, Mr. C.Y. Tung in 1970, who had plans to recondition and rename her into the Seawise University.         

Seawise University


The Queen Elizabeth became Seawise University and made it's way, under her own power from Ft Lauderdale to Hong Kong, where she would undergo the transformation from ocean liner to floating university.  Unfortunately, while she was docked in Ft Lauderdale, there was a lack of important maintenance, so the voyage to Hong Kong was riddled with breakdowns and engine troubles. She barely made it to Hong Kong harbor.  C.Y. Tung's vision was to create this incredible floating university, named with somewhat of a pun his own name, Seawise University, and her home port was to be Los Angeles.  On January 9th, 1972, work was nearly completed on the new Seawise University, but several mysterious fires broke out in different places around the ship, and fireboats scurried to the rescue to put out the fire, but sadly, the fire quickly got out of control and consumed the ship.  Too much water was poured onto and into the ship, and she began to take on a list. The fire was so hot that her interior structure was compromised and parts of the superstructure buckled and folded into itself.  The great ship was a huge loss and rested on the bottom of the harbor with much of her hull still above the water.  The gutted wreck was even used as a movie set in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun as seen in the pictures below. 




What remains of the Queen Elizabeth today?   The giant hulk of a hull that was gutted and resting in the mud at the bottom of Hong Kong Harbor was eventually cut-up over the next few years, but only the parts of the hull that were accessible above the water.  Much of the hull remained below the water with markers at the bow and stern so other boats would know where to avoid collision with underwater bits of the wreck.  In more recent years, that entire area was made into a huge landfill, so now whatever remained of Queen Elizabeth's hull is buried.   C.Y. Tung had offices in New York and in the Los Angeles area.  In the City of Torrance, C.Y. Tung had an office at 3440 Carson Street where he displayed one of the giant 16 ton anchors from the Queen Elizabeth, and the brass Letters "Q" and "E" removed from the Queen Elizabeth's bow while she was going through her transformation into the Seawise University.  The other "Q" and "E" were on display in his New York office.  Today, C.Y. Tung's offices have long since been closed, and a bank occupies the building that was once built by C.Y. Tung.  The huge anchor remains just outside of the bank building, along with the letters "Q" and "E", but the display for the letters is in great need  of repair.        





The Letters "Q" and "E" displayed in Torrance

The Letters "Q" and "E" on display in New York

The ANCHOR from the Queen Elizabeth on display in Torrance

To gain a better perspective of the huge size of this 16 ton anchor, Mr. Gene Speroni stands next to the anchor next to the bank building, and the former headquarters of C.Y. Tung.