Why the QM2,QV & QE could not be built in the UK

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#1
Northvale,New Jersey
914 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
I found this youtube video. It is from 1986 and it is some British TV news program that is like 60 Minutes here in the USA. Anyway this news show did a 15 minute report on why the QE2 could not have her conversion from a steamship to a diesel-electric ship work done at a UK shipyard. It was done at a German shipyard instead. This video does explain why the shipbuilding and ship repair industry in the UK was in decline at that time in 1986 and why the QM2,Queen Victoria,Queen Elizabeth and the new Cunard Ship entering service in 2022 could not be built in the UK. Here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1KSFQfHMMQ Any opinions? Regards,Jerry
#2
29 Posts
Joined Sep 2017
Harland and Wolff of NI (and Titanic, Olympic, Britannic and Canberra fame) did fight very hard to get the QM2 contract. Unfortunately while they still had the expertise for building the vessel, they didn’t have the fitting out capability, and having to subcontract that to another firm made their bid too pricey. That and Tony Blair’s government of the time was obsessed with everyone becoming a service industry employee so didn’t make any special effort to back Harland and Wolff while the French government was behind Chantiers all day long. FWIW, there was never any chance a yard other than Fincantieri would build a Vista Class ship as they were heavily involved with the design too so were very much best placed.
#3
Overlooking the Straights of Dover
137 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by SilverHengroen
Tony Blair’s government of the time
What on earth are you talking about? Margaret Thatcher was PM all through the period before and after QE2's engines were replaced: Labour's next election win was in 1997.
#4
Northvale,New Jersey
914 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by kentchris
What on earth are you talking about? Margaret Thatcher was PM all through the period before and after QE2's engines were replaced: Labour's next election win was in 1997.
SilverHengroen was referring to the time period of QM2's construction from 2001 when the first steel plates were cut to late 2003. Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister at the time of the conversion of the QE2 from a steamship to a diesel-electric ship in 1986-1987. Regards,Jerry
#5
Overlooking the Straights of Dover
137 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Originally posted by Cruise Liner Fan
SilverHengroen was referring to the time period of QM2's construction from 2001 when the first steel plates were cut to late 2003. Margaret Thatcher was British Prime Minister at the time of the conversion of the QE2 from a steamship to a diesel-electric ship in 1986-1987. Regards,Jerry
Whoops, I misread that one. You don't need to tell me when MT was PM, I was there.
#6
Valley of the Sun, Arizona
7,240 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Regardless of who was PM at the time it is a shame those iconic Clyde Built ships are not continued. John Brown built a fine ship at one time. Britain has the most expansive seagoing heritage the world has yet known. A pity all the Lego flats on barges are all being built elsewhere..
#7
Northvale,New Jersey
914 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by SilverHengroen
Harland and Wolff of NI (and Titanic, Olympic, Britannic and Canberra fame) did fight very hard to get the QM2 contract. Unfortunately while they still had the expertise for building the vessel, they didn’t have the fitting out capability, and having to subcontract that to another firm made their bid too pricey. That and Tony Blair’s government of the time was obsessed with everyone becoming a service industry employee so didn’t make any special effort to back Harland and Wolff while the French government was behind Chantiers all day long. FWIW, there was never any chance a yard other than Fincantieri would build a Vista Class ship as they were heavily involved with the design too so were very much best placed.
I do remember that Harland & Wolff did try very hard to get the contract to build the QM2 but the French shipyard Chantiers just offered the better deal to Cunard. As of today about a decade and a half after the construction of the QM2, Harland & Wolff is no longer in the ship building business and Chantiers is still building ships. Regards,Jerry
#8
NYC
3,800 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
You're right, Harland and Wolff did want the QM2 contract but there were two obstacles. One, they would have needed a government subsidy to carry on operations between Cunard paying the deposit and full balance upon delivery of the ship per contract. Second, they would have had to subcontract the interior work as they had not built a passenger ship since Canberra in 1960.

In 2011 I toured the Titan Crane at the former John Brown fitting out dock. It was billed as "Glasgow Heritage" as there are museums and monuments to a now dead industry. FWIW, our tour guide blamed obstinance on the part of both labor and management for the demise of shipbuilding in the UK.
One example: making a port hole. In a Glasgow shipyard one man would cut the hole, a second man's job was to put in the frame, and a third had the job of fitting the glass. Japanese shipyard: one man does the whole job and on to the next one.
Second example: 5PM in a Glasgow shipyard and everyone goes home for the day. 5PM in a Japanese shipyard and the floodlights are switched on and the second shift comes on. The Japanese shipyard can therefore promise much faster delivery.
France is a country which has its share of labor/management arguments. But Chantiers de l'Atlantique had nonetheless adapted their techniques and labor practices to competitively and profitably build ships. SS France was welded and not riveted like the Normandie and large sections were prefabricated. And of course QM2 was constructed entirely in welded sections.
#9
Seattle, Washington
962 Posts
Joined May 2009
In a conversation I had with QM2's architect I was told that Harland and Wolff didn't have the requisite financial reserves to ensure completion of the ship.
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