The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2)

The Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) set new standards in speed and luxury as the world entered the era of popular air travel.

How big is she?

The QE2's length is 963 ft (293.5m), and her beam is 105 ft (32m). Her gross tonnage was registered as 65,863 tons and she was able to carry 2000 passengers.

The original engines were steam turbines until a major refit in 1987 updated her accommodation and converted her to diesel electric power with nine oil-fired engines driving two giant electric motors each of 59,000 shaft horse power giving her a top speed of 34 knots.

Who built the QE2 and who owns her?

The QE2 was built by John Brown & Company, Clydebank, Scotland for the Cunard Line, Southampton. The ship was launched on 20 September 1967 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Her maiden voyage in December 1968 was cut short by turbine trouble and she completed her full maiden voyage in May 1969, travelling between Southampton and New York.

What is the history of the QE2 so far?

Before her retirement in 2008, the QE2 had travelled more than 6,000,000 miles and carried more than 2,500,000 passengers. She was at that time the only liner regularly making the transatlantic crossing to New York for about eight months of the year, carrying out other holiday cruises and special charters for the remainder.

In April 1982, the QE2 was briefly used as a troopship to take servicemen and women to the Falkland Islands during the war with Argentina.

The QE2 cost £30 million to build and has cost at least ten times that figure to run since she entered service.


The QE2 retired on 27 November 2008. She was acquired by a private equity firm in Dubai, where she remains laid up.

Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, open daily from 10am

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