Author Topic: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover  (Read 6727 times)

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Online Michael Gallagher

Back in 1997 my job gave me the opportunity to spend the last six hours onboard P&O's Canberra while that vessel was in service. I had never sailed on the much-loved vessel but the vast majority of those who had never had a bad word to say about her (many were still prepared to use communal bathroom facilities even in 1997) and they all said she could never be beaten for atmosphere or happiness. I joined the ship in the Channel as she made her final approach home to Southampton. The party atmosphere on board was electric and 'I got it'. On the Bridge for the final countdown to 'Finish with Engines' there were tears and pride. And then... IT ENDED. It was very strange to feel it. The ship just seemed to go to sleep as soon as that order had been rung on the old-fashioned engine controls. Walking to the gangway from the Bridge, the ship 'was gone'.

I suspected a similar feeling in me would prevail at the end of QE2. And I was not wrong. Standing on the Bridge wing for her Handover I felt a similar feeling as I had on Canberra as soon as the blue Nakheel flags had been raised. QE2 was no more. She had gone to sleep. And no ship had ever earned such a sleep.

I was to remain on board for a further 24 hours after the Handover and I wandered around the ship 'lost'. Of course she was physically still there but something had gone. She had gone to sleep.

I had rehearsed my final departure thousands of times in my head and when the moment came... I paused at the gangway, patted the steel hull and wished her well and then disembarked. I did not look back, just as I had always promised myself I wouldn't. For one heart-stopping moment her reflection appeared in the mirror of the taxi as we drove away and I just lowered my head.
« Last Edit: Dec 18, 2009, 02:28 PM by Rob Lightbody »

Offline junglejames

Re: 24 hours after the Handover
« Reply #1 on: Nov 26, 2009, 11:12 AM »
Nice memory. I dont think I would have managed being on the last cruise, or getting off in Dubai.
Very sad.

Anyway, she has had a years rest, she is grateful for it, even if it was a bit hot at times, and now she wants to stretch her legs again.

James

Offline Andy F

Re: 24 hours after the Handover
« Reply #2 on: Nov 26, 2009, 09:26 PM »
Nice story Michael and thanks for sharing with us.  I can imagine just how you felt as I was exactly the same when I left her for the final time in the September in Southampton.  Thanks for the memories followed by a quick pat of the hull and not looking back.

James, my sentiments exactly re the final voyage
Start every day with a smile and get it over with

Offline andyh

Re: 24 hours after the Handover
« Reply #3 on: Nov 28, 2009, 03:45 PM »
Nice story, a sad story on both counts  :(

Offline Stephen L

Re: 24 hours after the Handover
« Reply #4 on: Nov 28, 2009, 04:31 PM »
Your story bought a tear to my eye. When I disembarked the QE2 in Aug 2008 I also patted her hull and said a little prayer wishing her all the best for what was to come. I just wish we could see some movement. Is she to be sold, is she coming to Cape Town, will she sail again,we she become a floating hotel? It's so frustrating!
Regards

Stephen Laverack

Cruise_Princess

  • Guest
Re: 24 hours after the Handover
« Reply #5 on: Nov 28, 2009, 06:01 PM »
Lovely words Flagship...she obviously meant a great deal to you too...

but you had the courage not to look back. at her in Dubai.......I couldn't help it...too sentimental and soft!!

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #6 on: Jan 29, 2013, 10:17 AM »
One of the benefits of the Forum is the fact that Forum members' stories are there for all to enjoy long after they have been written. 

I came across this story written by Flagship's of when he left the QE2 24 hours after the handover.  I cried and wished I had been there to say goodbye to her just one more time, and like Flagship I would not have been able to look back.   
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Offline PJtheMuppet

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #7 on: Jan 29, 2013, 10:22 AM »
I felt much the same when she left Southampton on that final day, although in my case I kept watching her until she could not be seen any more.
Keep the Faith!

Online cunardqueen

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #8 on: Jan 31, 2013, 08:08 PM »

Gosh, Cant believe how I missed this till now, Thanks Michael for sharing this, l often wondered how you disembarked and the effect it had.
 
Quote
I had rehearsed my final departure thousands of times in my head and when the moment came... I paused at the gangway, patted the steel hull and wished her well and then disembarked. I did not look back, just as I had always promised myself I wouldn't. For one heart-stopping moment her reflection appeared in the mirror of the taxi as we drove away and I just lowered my head. 

Interesting also to read of your final hours on the Canberra...
Look how P&O handled this...

Quote
That morning, in a press statement, P&O announced Canberra would be sailing that evening to a scrap merchant in Pakistan, where she would be broken up.

 

and in full
  http://www.sscanberra.com/hist6fweek.htm
From the moment you first glimpsed the Queen,
 you just knew you were in for a very special time ahead.!

Offline Mauretania1907

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #9 on: Feb 06, 2013, 07:02 AM »
Canberra was another ship I knew and loved, so she got "Flowers of the Forest" too, even though she had to play it for herself.

Offline pete cain

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #10 on: Mar 10, 2013, 09:07 PM »
look at them all, where are they now ? (tab along to page2)   http://www.rp-online.de/reise/news/qe2-unter-arabischer-flagge-1.2397192

Offline Clydebuilt1971

Re: 'the ship was gone' - on board 24 hrs after the Handover
« Reply #11 on: Nov 28, 2014, 01:02 PM »
Back in 1997 my job gave me the opportunity to spend the last six hours onboard P&O's Canberra while that vessel was in service. I had never sailed on the much-loved vessel but the vast majority of those who had never had a bad word to say about her (many were still prepared to use communal bathroom facilities even in 1997) and they all said she could never be beaten for atmosphere or happiness. I joined the ship in the Channel as she made her final approach home to Southampton. The party atmosphere on board was electric and 'I got it'. On the Bridge for the final countdown to 'Finish with Engines' there were tears and pride. And then... IT ENDED. It was very strange to feel it. The ship just seemed to go to sleep as soon as that order had been rung on the old-fashioned engine controls. Walking to the gangway from the Bridge, the ship 'was gone'.

I suspected a similar feeling in me would prevail at the end of QE2. And I was not wrong. Standing on the Bridge wing for her Handover I felt a similar feeling as I had on Canberra as soon as the blue Nakheel flags had been raised. QE2 was no more. She had gone to sleep. And no ship had ever earned such a sleep.

I was to remain on board for a further 24 hours after the Handover and I wandered around the ship 'lost'. Of course she was physically still there but something had gone. She had gone to sleep.

I had rehearsed my final departure thousands of times in my head and when the moment came... I paused at the gangway, patted the steel hull and wished her well and then disembarked. I did not look back, just as I had always promised myself I wouldn't. For one heart-stopping moment her reflection appeared in the mirror of the taxi as we drove away and I just lowered my head.

As usual I hadn't seen this up until now!  ::)

There are emotions that no other man made item other than a ship can stir within a human being.
I was never on QE2 but can imagine (given the way I feel about ps Waverley for instance) that I would have been in bits at that point Michael! I've read the narrative on the ss Canberra site and it is also very moving but yours is all the more moving as it is personal.

Gav

 

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