A series of special reports on Long Beach and the Queen Mary.

This series is funded by support from The Fund for Investigative Journalism and readers like you.

By Kelly Puente
Edited by Joel Sappell

The Queen Mary in Long Beach Thursday, Dec 12 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

A Hail Mary for the Queen Mary?

City leaders push for new oversight of the ailing ship but uncertainties abound.

December 22, 2021

Geraldine Knatz was the Port of Long Beach’s planning director in the early 1990s when she first stepped into the depths of the Queen Mary with a team of engineers to assess the aging ocean liner’s condition.

What she found was shocking.

A blanket of rust caked the inner hull, while a “corrosive soup” of metal and discarded debris mixed in standing water. At one point, Knatz said, she leaned her arm on a metal slab and a large chunk cracked off and fell into the iron abyss below.

After the grim tour, they reached the same conclusion that marine engineers would confirm years later—the ship was rotting from the inside.

“I couldn’t wait to get out of there,” Knatz recalled.

Prior reporting on the Queen Mary