Can the QE2 be saved from its ‘filthy’ state in Dubai?

The QE2 is apparently falling into disrepair in a dock in Dubai, but plans are afoot to save it.

Queen Elizabeth 2 docked in Dubai.

Calls to save the historic QE2 ocean liner from the scrapyard are growing louder as campaigners say it lies “filthy, forlorn and neglected” in a Dubai dock.

ADVERTISING

The Queen Elizabeth 2, launched by the Queen in 1967 and Cunard’s flagship liner for 40 years, was retired and sold to the UAE government conglomerate Dubai World for £64million in 2008. The ship was destined to become a luxury hotel but since plans stalled in 2013 after the economic downturn, it has languished in Port Rashid.

• Is Glasgow going to save the QE2?

The engine was turned off in 2013 and the ship has since suffered from mould thanks to the country’s hot, humid conditions. Concerned campaigners say they have heard nothing from Dubai to suggest that the QE2’s future lies anywhere but in the scrapyard and argue that to let such an iconic ship go to ruin would be a travesty.


The QE2 “forlorn and neglected” in Dubai

One campaigner even believes that the QE2 could be saved for just £3million.

“Its scrap value is decreasing, and weighted against the cost of decontaminating the ship – as it’s got asbestos – it could probably be bought for about £3million,” said Rob Lightbody, a member of online campaign group The QE2 Story

.

“The options now are to scrap it – but clearing it out would cost millions and millions – or just leave it somewhere.

“It’s just sitting in Dubai. Nothing has happened to it in the last two and a half years. There’s no power. There’s no air. She’s filthy.”

Mr Lightbody wrote in a report on the QE2’s history that the ship now “looks forlorn and neglected.”

He said that if she were sat in a dock in Southampton she would not have been treated like this, adding that she is just seen as an inconvenient problem in Dubai.


The original planned hotel in Dubai.

The QE2 was in fine shape in 2011, according to Mr Lightbody, who said that it was only once the engines were turned off in 2013 that she fell into disrepair. He said tourists are kept away from the ship.

He added that he would be happy to see the liner to rest somewhere associated with its history: Southampton, Liverpool, London or New York.

Louis De Sousa worked on the QE2 as a bartender between 1990 and 1999.

He told Telegraph Travel the situation surrounding her ownership was confusing as nobody seemed to be taking responsibility for her.

• The farewell cruise of the world’s most famous cruise ship, the QE2

“Her future most likely will be the scrapyard,” he said.

“Of course it is sad. But I truly don’t believe in hotel ships. If you are going to save a ship then have her as such. Dubai just wanted to rip her apart and turn her to into something like Las Vegas.”

Drydocks World, which is owned by the Dubai government and where she is currently docked, did not respond to a request for comment.

Last weekend another QE2 campaigner used Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebration in Liverpool as an opportunity to raise awareness of the liner’s plight and hand out flyers.

If the QE2 were to be saved, it would not be the first time the Telegraph had had a hand in the salvaging of an old liner. In 2006 the Swan Hellenic, a floundering P&O liner, was purchased and revived by Lord Sterling after a “Save our Swan” campaign run by Telegraph Travel was firmly supported by its readers.

Costa Concordia embarks on its last voyage

Costa Concordia embarks on its last voyage:

Italian cruise liner finally heads home to Genoa where it will be broken up for scrap

  • Four tugboats and several escort ships were lined up to tow the 114,000-tonne vessel
  • It is being taken to a port near Genoa in northern Italy where it is due to arrive on Sunday
  • The once-gleaming white luxury liner sank off the holiday island of Giglio in January 2012
  • 32 people died in the disaster after the ship struck rocks and capsized 
  • What followed was the most daunting – and expensive – salvage operation ever attempted
  • Environmental groups have grave concerns warning the operation could be a ‘maritime Chernobyl’
  • Indian waiter Russel Rebello is still missing, but authorities are hopeful that his body may be found

A huge convoy moving at a speed of two knots is taking the Costa Concordia on its final voyage to the scrapheap today two-and-a-half years after it struck rocks and capsized, killing 32 people.

Fourteen boats, including three UK flagged boats, the Garibaldi, the Afon and the Earl Vow, are accompanying the liner, as well as a helicopter and a military plane that has circled continuously overhead.

As well as two powerful tugs in front, there are two spare tugboats behind, in case the boat needs to reverse in the face of an obstacle.

Fast outriding speed boats are warning sea traffic ahead to move aside, giving the Concordia at least 1.5 miles of space around it.

One vessel is tasked with checking for any marine mammals in the region, while others check the water quality for comparison before and after the passage.

Scroll down for video

Final voyage: The wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed by two tugboats as it leaves behind the tiny Tuscan island of Isola del Giglio,  Italy

Final voyage: The wreck of the Costa Concordia is towed by two tugboats as it leaves behind the tiny Tuscan island of Isola del Giglio, Italy

The Costa Concordia cruise liner has begun its final voyage away from the tiny Italian island where it capsized on January 13, 2012

The Costa Concordia cruise liner has begun its final voyage away from the tiny Italian island where it capsized on January 13, 2012

Environmental campaigners have warned of the risk of a 'maritime Chernobyl' as the ship is towed away

Environmental campaigners have warned of the risk of a ‘maritime Chernobyl’ as the ship is towed away

Setting off: The cruise ship Costa Concordia is towed by tugs from Giglio after being refloated.  The ship is bound for it's home port of Genoa

Setting off: The cruise ship Costa Concordia is towed by tugs from Giglio after being refloated. The ship is bound for it’s home port of Genoa

Another boat accommodates the technicians when they are not working. A group of 12 are on a control room on the boat but switch with another workgroup every 12 hours.

As it was tugged along like a floating multi-storey carpark, the far side of the wrecked ship could be seen for the first time since it was hoisted out of the water last week.

Entire decks newly emerged from the brine are covered in rust while others have collapsed in the decay. The nearside is blighted by a huge hole where the ship hit rocks two years ago.

Maneouvres began early this morning to remove the cruise liner’s rusty hulk from the Italian island of Giglio where the disaster happened.

The vessels, led by the tug boat Blizzard, then started to tow the Concordia to a port near Genoa in northern Italy where it is due to arrive on Sunday, before being broken up for scrap.

On Giglio there was a carnival-like atmosphere as half the island turned out to pay homage to the ship. The church bells rang out and villagers and tourists cheered in unison as salvage workers came off shift for the last time.

A gang of six divers and welders from Titan, the US-led salvage company, sprayed champagne and lit cigars while posing for selfies in their hard hats and onesies.

‘Make sure you get the Costa Concordia in the background cause we f***ing did it!’, one yelled.

But on Corsica environmental campaigners have warned of the risk of a ‘maritime Chernobyl’.

The heavy tug boat Blizzard (left) moves into position to maneuver the re-floated wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner from its position off the coast of Giglio. The operation to get it moving again began today

The heavy tug boat Blizzard (left) moves into position to maneuver the re-floated wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner from its position off the coast of Giglio. The operation to get it moving again began today

Homeward bound: After more than two years since it slammed into a reef along the coastline of Isola del Giglio the wreck has begun its last journey, to the Italian port of Genoa, where it will be scrapped

Homeward bound: After more than two years since it slammed into a reef along the coastline of Isola del Giglio the wreck has begun its last journey, to the Italian port of Genoa, where it will be scrapped

People watch as the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia is towed by tugs from Giglio after being refloated.  The ship is bound for it's home port of Genoa

People watch as the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia is towed by tugs from Giglio after being refloated. The ship is bound for it’s home port of Genoa

The ship will take a route out of the port towards the east, before heading north at a rate of two knots, or nautical miles per hour, to Genoa

The ship will take a route out of the port towards the east, before heading north at a rate of two knots, or nautical miles per hour, to Genoa

There was a carnival-like atmosphere as half the island turned out to pay homage to the ship

There was a carnival-like atmosphere as half the island turned out to pay homage to the ship

They have grave concerns that the ship could split as it leaves port or during the four day voyage north, spilling a toxic brew of hydro carbons, chemicals and waste into the sea.

Its final passage will take it through a marine sanctuary home to rare whales and dolphins nursing their young.

Franklin Fitzgerald, from Houston, said: ‘We’ve been here for two years. There’s been lots of long long days. It’s been blood sweat and tears. But it was the best job ever, it won’t repeat itself.’

‘The island was the best bit of the job, one claimed, while another shouted, ‘the women and the beer.

The once-gleaming white luxury liner sank off the holiday island of Giglio in January 2012 after sailing too close to shore. Its wreck has remained there ever since as engineers embarked on one of the largest maritime salvage operations in history.

Over the past week, salvagers have slowly lifted the 114,500-tonne ship from underwater platforms by pumping air into 30 large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached to the hull.

This morning salvage workers lowered the ‘Blue Peter’ flag, which they had raised yesterday to announce that the ship was ready to depart.

Salvage master Nick Sloane who is overseeing the entire operation said: ‘Traditionally the flag tells the sailors its time to get out of the bar.’

As he arrived for his most important day in the job so far, he said: ‘Everything is going to plan and it’s a big day for Giglio but we can only relax once we get to Genoa.’

 

Work starts to refloat Costa Concordia

Work starts to refloat Costa ConcordiaSalvage workers today started attempting to refloat the Costa Concordia more than two years after it sank off the Italian island of Giglio.

Divers and engineers will oversee the operation to raise the 114,500-tonne ship, which may still contain the body of one of the 32 people who died in the disaster.

The ship’s owner, Costa, hopes to finally raise the rusting vessel from the sea-bed in a week-long operation before towing it away to be scrapped in Genoa.

Engineers plan to raise the vessel from the artificial platform where it has rested since it was righted in another large-scale operation last September, the Times reported.

Nick Sloane, the South African salvage master in charge of the operation, was reported as saying this morning: “The risks are that the ship could bend as it is raised, or the chains underneath it could snap.

“There will be 42 people on board during the first manoeuvre. If disaster strikes we will evacuate through emergency escapes on the bow and stern.”

Once the ship is successfully raised off the platform, air will slowly be pumped into 30 tanks or “sponsons” attached to both sides of the 290-metre Concordia to expel the water inside and raise the ship.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning the vessel before all passengers had evacuated.

Russel Rebello, an Indian waiter, is still missing and the refloating will include a new search of the ship as it is raised that may finally recover his body.