Thursday marks the 52nd anniversary of the Queen Mary’s final voyage from Southampton to Long Beach, and in honor of the day, a nonprofit group called Queen Mary International will launch a fundraising campaign to help restore the iconic ship.
Mary Rohrer, a community outreach coordinator for the nonprofit, said the group was called to action following a string of critical reports on the ship’s deteriorating condition. Rohrer said the city and the ship’s operator, Urban Commons, should step up and accept help from the nonprofit.
“We figured on this date of the Queen Mary’s last voyage, it’s fitting that we’re launching a camping to help turn her around,” she said. “Something needs to be done, because I feel like we’re literally missing the boat.”
Johnny Vallejo, the city’s property services officer who oversees the Queen Mary, said the city is open to the possibility of working with the nonprofit and is setting up meetings. Any partnership would have to include a memorandum of understanding that would require City Council approval, he said.
A series of recent Post articles have included highly critical inspection reports for the ship and a letter from the City of Long Beach to Urban Commons warning the company it was in danger of defaulting on its lease agreement if urgent repairs are not done.
Urban Commons is expected to provide the city with an updated plan to address the critical repairs and deficiencies by the end of the month.
Rohrer said funds generated though the campaign, called Project Royal Rivets, will be earmarked for specific restoration projects.
While Queen Mary International was established in 2013 to help raised awareness for the ship, this would be the first time the ship has had a community-driven funding source for repairs and renovations, she said.
Rohrer said the group has already received some donations, including a $2,000 donation from a late WWII veteran who returned home on the ship after the war. She said she plans to start asking for donations from local businesses that have benefited the ship’s tourist draw over the decades.
“She’s been here 52 years and it’s time to create a vehicle so people can help,” she said. “It’s payback time.”
Kate Vescera, a local lawyer who also serves on the nonprofit, said she hopes to rekindle a connection for Long Beach residents.
“I know a lot of community members see the Queen Mary as just a tourist attraction, but it’s so much more than that, it’s part of our history,” she said. “It really adds value to our city.”
For information, visit the organization’s website.
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