Many of you will have read with sadness the recent news reports about the former Cunard liner the Queen Elizabeth 2 languishing in a Dubai dry-dock, rusting and holding awaiting a presumable scrapping.
For many of my constituents this fate is a truly horrible one to behold. Built in Clydebank, fitted and commissioned right here in Greenock; in many ways she is the pinnacle of Clydeside engineering.
I wasn’t born when she was launched in 1967 but I was here for her final farewell. I have never seen Greenock so alive, so full of goodwill and life than that day; tinged with sadness, a bittersweet farewell to one big damned boat!
She should not, and cannot be allowed to go to rot in a breaker’s yard. She was originally sold to her Dubai owners with the intention of turning her into a floating hotel. The global financial crisis put paid to that idea, but I can see NO reason why we couldn’t do the same for her here.
Imagine. The QE2, right here, in Greenock.
Berthed in the Great Harbour as a luxury 5-star hotel with restaurants and other facilities befitting her status as a massive tourist draw. Also incorporating a maritime & culture museum, tied into the nearby sugar sheds, showing off the Clyde’s marine heritage. Imagine the possibilities. We already have over 100,000 cruise ship visitors arriving in Greenock this year. Imagine starting your cruise with a 5-day stay on the QE2!
With stunning views and ample accommodation possibilities, we’d also be able to offer superb conference facilities for companies, rivalling anything Glasgow has to offer. To maintain the ship and keep her operating would require hiring a lot of staff. Many of them could well be the children and grandchildren of her original builders. An army of modern apprentices would need trained and hired for her ongoing maintenance – and with local shipbuilding increasing thanks to the success of Fergusons, maybe one day in the future there will be new ships being launched on the Clyde…
What a way to really kickstart our local tourism and engineering economy?
To be clear though, this will not be an easy task. If those news reports are true, the QE2 is truly in a sad state. Her engines haven’t been turned since 2009, so just to get her moving under her own power again will take some work. Then when she arrives here we’d need substantial investment to bring her facilities up to scratch, thanks to neglect and the hot, arid Arabian sun. Infrastructure would need put in place shoreside, a management company built to maintain and run her; a viable long-term business case must be found and made for her if it is to be feasible. It may not be. But I think we would be doing this area, and all who helped build this magnificent ship a massive disservice if we did not try.