Author Topic: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel including danger of a Torpedo attack  (Read 6283 times)

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Offline Louis De Sousa

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15th April to 13th May 1973 a charter to Israel under Captain Mortimer Hehir.

Louis
« Last Edit: Dec 12, 2017, 10:38 PM by Rob Lightbody »

Online Peter Mugridge

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #1 on: Mar 29, 2010, 11:20 AM »
The Israeli charter was quite sensitive wasn't it?
« Last Edit: May 08, 2011, 05:27 PM by Isabelle Prondzynski »
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Online Michael Gallagher

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #2 on: Mar 29, 2010, 12:00 PM »
Note from the Forum Administrator - this text below may not be used outwith this forum without permission.

In April 1973 QE2 was chartered by Mr Oscar Rudnik of Massachusetts-based Assured Travel of Worcester. His plan was to use the ship to take passengers from Southampton to Israel for the 25th Anniversary of the State’s birth.

Two cruises were planned – an Easter / Passover Cruise from 14 to 28 April, and a Silver Independence Day Cruise from 28 April to 13 May.

Naturally, given the almost permanently tense situation in the Middle East, it was assumed that QE2 could be attacked in some way by Arab activists at some point during the cruise. As a result, security was extremely tight and even involved the Ministry of Defence.

So, while the passengers due to sail on this noteworthy voyage may have felt secure as a result of the significant measures taken, there weren’t actually many of them to benefit from it. Widespread publicity about the potential threat and the consequent security acted as a great deterrent to travellers, and instead of the anticipated 1,200 passengers on each cruise the charterer ended up with half that number. The crew complement remained virtually the same, however, so service levels were never better.

An addition to the ‘crew’ was a complement of 11 rabbis to ensure that the entire main kitchen and restaurant complied with the strictest Kosher requirements.

When the liner put into Southampton on 12 April, the number of guards on the gangways was tripled and frogmen continuously inspected the area around the berthed ship. Lorries were searched as they delivered stores. Police vans and cars were to be seen inside and outside the docks and more than 20 police were stationed on the area leading to QE2’s gangways. Some police wore yellow armbands and were believed to be armed but the authorities would not confirm this.

The National Union of Seamen, on behalf of the crew, demanded £50 danger money for the voyage plus four years’ wages should they fall victim to Arab terrorists during the voyage, while at the same time claiming:

“There was never any problem over the liner’s crew. The majority of them are from the old Queen ships, and they look on this voyage as just another job of work”.

And still on the subject of money, MPs demanded to know who was paying for all the security. Since Cunard was, that particular complaint went no further.

The passengers, who were mostly American Jews, arrived at Heathrow aboard six chartered EL-AL or TWOA jets, and were given a huge police escort to Southampton. 15 coaches were used to transport them and police were on duty at vulnerable points on the route.

On arrival at the docks they had to pass through eight checkpoints before they embarked. They and their luggage went through electronic doorways, and security opened and searched some of the cases. There was also a rigorous check on crewmembers.

SAS members were carried on board throughout the voyage to guard strategic areas – and such was the sensitivity surrounding the arrangements of the SAS, that the Irish crewmembers were given leave for the duration of the cruise just in case any might identify the SAS men to the IRA. In addition, the ship carried 30 Royal Marines, many armed, and sniffer dogs alert for explosives!

Dockers handling baggage for QE2 stopped work asking that in the event of death caused by terrorist action through baggage explosives relatives should be granted four years’ wages similar to the liner’s crew. The management agreed and work resumed after 30 minutes.

QE2 left 40 minutes late because the last jet into Heathrow had been delayed. Helicopters – believed to form part if the security system – circled over the ship as tugs took her out into Southampton Water. Thousands of people, attracted by the publicity the liner had received, thronged the waterfront in the afternoon sunshine to see her sail away on Sunday 15 April.

QE2 was soon making 25 Knots.

Her first port of call was Lisbon on 17 April, where the authorities took the precaution of closing the Salazar Bridge while QE2 passed beneath. The passenger terminal was closed to all visitors and passengers were searched before being permitted to rejoin the ship if they went ashore. Portuguese frogmen made regular searches of the ship’s hull during her 12-hour call there.

The liner took a northern passage through the Mediterranean in order to keep distant from the North African coast, largely in order to avoid seeming unduly provocative.

QE2’s arrival at Ashdod on 21 April marked her inaugural visit to Israel and was a unique occasion for Ashdod itself – the first-ever visit by a passenger liner. QE2 stayed four days in Ashdod prior to proceeding to Haifa where the former Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, visited the ship. After a few days she returned to Ashdod.

Anti-personnel devices were detonated in the harbour at night around the floodlit ship in order to deter unfriendly divers.

On 29 April the passengers from the Easter / Passover Cruise flew home and the passengers for the Silver Independence Day Cruise joined the ship for a reversal of the itinerary.

QE2 spent just over two weeks in Israel before leaving on 8 May under similar strict security, arriving home on Sunday 13 May.

Despite all the security arrangements, Staff Captain Doug Ridley described the cruise from his perspective as “monotonous”: “The only threats I know of are what we have read in the newspapers”.

But, of course, the Staff Captain didn’t know everything – and a man who did made some astounding revelations the following year.

In July 1974 President Anwar Sadat of Egypt revealed in a BBC Panorama interview that he personally had countermanded an order to torpedo QE2.

President Sadat said that he was awoken early one morning and asked to confirm orders to an Egyptian submarine issued by President Gadaffi of Libya, with whom Egypt was sharing a political and military alliance at the time.

Sadat immediately countermanded Gadaffi’s orders which had been to sink QE2 to avenge the Libyan airliner shot down by Israel over Sinai late in 1972, killing more than 100 passengers.

Sadat claimed that when he found out about the ‘Sink the QE2’ plan he only had two hours in which to countermand the order:

“Fortunately he [Gadaffi] tried to use one of my submarines rather than his own. I was told about this at 1.30 am and I stayed up until 3.30 am making sure the submarine captain had returned to Alexandria”
« Last Edit: Apr 13, 2010, 12:08 AM by Rob Lightbody »

Offline CAP

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #3 on: Dec 20, 2011, 01:44 PM »
Note from the Forum Administrator - this text below may not be used outwith this forum without permission.
Two cruises were planned – an Easter / Passover Cruise from 14 to 28 April, and a Silver Independence Day Cruise from 28 April to 13 May.

On 29 April the passengers from the Easter / Passover Cruise flew home and the passengers for the Silver Independence Day Cruise joined the ship for a reversal of the itinerary.

QE2 spent just over two weeks in Israel before leaving on 8 May under similar strict security, arriving home on Sunday 13 May.

During an update of some historical information on my QE2 project I have had cause to revisit this particular charter(s) and as a result having some difficulty confirming the ships actual movements during these voyages.  Hopefully someone can provide the relevant confirmations?

I've extracted a couple of the more pertinent sentences from flagship's original post as these help with the specific areas of concern.

The first question is what are the actual dates for each voyage?  QE2 departed Soton on the 15th April 1973 but I have conflicting dates as to when the cruise began (more specifically when did passengers embark?) was it the day before (14/4/73) or the actual day of departure (as seems likely given that most of the passengers arrived via Heathrow)?

Passengers from the first leg of the departure returned home on 29/4/1973 whilst I believe the ship was in Haifa.  For the return voyage passengers boarded on the 29/4/1973 (as quoted above) so this suggests that the cruise actually began on this date rather than the 28th April 1973 (this date would also be the date when the first cruise ended).  I am obviously looking for confirmation as to which is correct.

Lastly, the return leg is noted as being a reversal of the inbound voyage however, I have some information that suggests QE2 called at Palma de Mallorca rather than Lisbon.  Again I'm looking for confirmation as which port is correct and if possible the dates for the relevant visit.
« Last Edit: Dec 20, 2011, 07:47 PM by CAP »

Online Michael Gallagher

Re: QE2 Charters
« Reply #4 on: Dec 20, 2011, 08:18 PM »
The dates of the sailings were:

Easter / Passover Cruise:

   15 April      Southampton
   16 April      At Sea
   17 April      Lisbon
   18 April      At Sea
   19 April      At Sea
   20 April      At Sea   
   21 April      Ashdod
   22 April      Ashdod
   23 April      Ashdod
   24 April      Haifa
   25 April      Haifa
   26 April      Haifa
   27 April      Haifa
   28 April      Haifa

Package sold as 14 - 29 April with passengers boarding in Southampton on 14th (for security) and staying on two-nights in Haifa.

Silver Independence Day Cruise:
   
      28 April      Haifa
      29 April      Haifa
      30 April      Haifa
      1 May      Haifa
      2 May      Haifa
      3 May      Haifa
      4 May      Ashdod
      5 May      Ashdod
      6 May      Ashdod
      7 May      Ashdod
      8 May      At Sea
      9 May      At Sea
      10 May      Palma
      11 May      At Sea
      12 May      At Sea
      13 May      Southampton

Package sold as 29 April to 13 May. There was a crossover of passengers and there was plenty of room - no more than 1,200 passengers travelled in total!

The return had a slight change of itinerary.

Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #5 on: Mar 16, 2013, 11:00 AM »
From Hansard

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1973/apr/18/queen-elizabeth-2-security-on-israel

Quote from: http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1973/apr/18/queen-elizabeth-2-security-on-israel

"QUEEN ELIZABETH 2": SECURITY ON ISRAEL CRUISE

HL Deb 18 April 1973 vol 341 cc1117-8 1117
§ 2.50 p.m.

 
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
 My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what cost has been and is being incurred by the Defence Department in shepherding "QE 2" to Israel and guarding her in Southampton before her voyage there, for the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of that State.

 
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE (LORD CARRINGTON)
 My Lords, among the security precautions being taken for the cruise of the "Queen Elizabeth 2" to and from Israel this month and next are some by the Ministry of Defence, the cost of which will be recovered from the Cunard Steam-Ship Company. I cannot discuss amounts, since this could indicate the nature of the measures being taken.
 
 
§ THE EARL OF ONSLOW
 My Lords, while thanking my noble friend very much, may I ask him, first, whether he is aware that there has been concern because we have appeared to be subsidising the holidays to the Middle East of richer members of the community? Secondly, is he aware that we may be appearing to play too great a part in the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, having regard to the present circumstances in that area?
 
 
§ LORD CARRINGTON
 My Lords, with regard to the first question of my noble friend, I hope that my Answer will have put his mind at rest. With regard to his second question, this ship is on the high seas and is entitled to go wherever she pleases, and I think it right, since she is flying the British flag, that she should do so.
 
 
LORD JANNER
 My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the reply that he has just given. Will he be good enough to say whether it is in accordance with our practice that any British ship shall be entitled to sail where and when it wants for a legitimate purpose? Also, is not this ship, having been chartered in this way 1118 rendering a service not only to the State of Israel but also to the world as a whole?
 
 
§ LORD CARRINGTON
 My Lords, that is perfectly right. But perhaps I ought just to say that the responsibility for the security of a ship rests primarily with the owners of the ship concerned, and whether assistance might be provided by my Department in another case would, of course, depend upon the circumstances.
 
 
§ LORD SHACKLETON
 My Lords, the noble Lord has said that the expenses are recoverable. I take it that any sea support, or any air support by Nimrod aircraft—which would provide them with a good training flight—will not be charged back to the Cunard Company, because this seems to me to be the proper sort of defence which should be given in any circumstances to one of our ships going about its lawful duties.
 
 
§ LORD CARRINGTON
 My Lords, I do not want to go into what precautions have been taken, because I do not think that would be helpful, but all the expenses which it is proper should be charged to Cunard will be charged. Those members of the Ministry of Defence security forces on board the "Queen Elizabeth" will, I hope, have a very agreeable time.
 
 
§ LORD WIGG
 My Lords, will the Minister be good enough to tell the House whether he was consulted when this trip was planned, and, if so, had he in mind the extent of the precautions that would have to be taken?
 
 
§ LORD CARRINGTON
 No, my Lords, we were not consulted, and I hope to goodness that the Ministry of Defence will not be consulted about all the cruises which are being undertaken.
 
 
§ BARONESS GAITSKELL
 My Lords, is this not a great compliment to the British Navy, and can we just leave it at that?
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Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #6 on: Mar 16, 2013, 11:02 AM »
From the Jewish News Archive
March 20, 1973
Heavy Security for Qe2 Passengers Bound for Israel
http://archive.jta.org/article/1973/03/20/2964508/heavy-security-for-qe2-passengers-bound-for-israel

And from the Telegraph
The Government feared that Palestinian terrorists might crash an airliner into the Queen Elizabeth II as it sailed towards Israel with 1,400 mainly Jewish passengers on board.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1450681/Terrorist-threat-to-QE2-cruise.html

And in the Sunday Times
Desire for revenge drove Gadaffi to order sinking of QE2
Professor Uri Bar-Joseph’s book reveals how the planned attack on the QE2 was only aborted thanks to then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/world_news/Middle_East/libya/article570628.ece

How Blair and the West were fooled into embracing the pariah who even tried to sink the QE2
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051615/Gaddafi-dead-How-Tony-Blair-West-fooled.html#ixzz2NhQAAWoU
« Last Edit: Mar 16, 2013, 11:06 AM by Rob Lightbody »
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Offline Alan Snelson

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #7 on: Mar 17, 2013, 09:51 PM »
Not quite on topic I know but QE2 also visited Haifa on the 1980 world cruise after having transited the Suez Canal and stopped at Port Said. I don't recall the security situation being so overt at that time either on board or shoreside. I do remember that any risk to the ship was considered to come from the ocean side and remember seeing Israeli navy boats patrolling just outside the harbour and regularly hearing the dull thud of underwater detonations echoing through the hull as anti personnel devices were triggered. I was later told that British submarines were shadowing us around he eastern Med but that is only hearsay. I think we must have been there for two days as I have too many memories of shore excursions to fit into only one day.
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Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #8 on: Aug 04, 2015, 10:34 PM »
« Last Edit: Aug 04, 2015, 10:42 PM by Rob Lightbody »
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Offline June Ingram

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #9 on: Aug 05, 2015, 04:51 PM »
Fascinating !  Thanks, Rob, for posting these videos !

Who was Master on this voyage and who was Chief Engineer ?
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Offline Twynkle

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #10 on: Aug 05, 2015, 09:40 PM »
Fascinating !  Thanks, Rob, for posting these videos !

Who was Master on this voyage and who was Chief Engineer ?

June - If you look above on this topic, it looks as if Captain Mortimer Hehir was Master at the time.
There is also a list of personnel who were in command here:
https://www.theqe2story.com/forum/index.php/topic,5547.msg56162.html#msg56162

Chief engineer - it could have been one of several
Try here at the link below - and maybe Rod and /or others can let you know the answer.
The Charter took place 43 years ago - and it is excellent to have so much information regarding the project already.
Thanks to Michael Gallagher, Rob and others too.
http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=23406


QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

Offline Rod

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #11 on: Aug 05, 2015, 10:39 PM »
I was not on board.
But the name that springs  to mind is Jack Marland

Online Lynda Bradford

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #12 on: Aug 06, 2015, 12:44 PM »
Excellent videos that capture a moment in time in QE2's history. 

I like the bit where man was contradicting his wife's comment that she was not aware of the security onboard ship.  He then when on to describe the fact that the RN had escorted the QE2 out of Southampton and the involvement of the Marines and divers. 
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
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Offline Chris Shaftoe

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #13 on: Apr 30, 2016, 11:23 PM »
The Chief Engineer for the Isreal cruise was Jack Marland as I recall, with John Grant as deputy chief.

Offline Chris Shaftoe

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2016, 07:09 AM »
I remember this cruise quite well. I recall the chaos of the kitchens/galleys having to be converted to cater for Kosher cuisine and the Rabis having to bless everything - meat and fish crockery and cutlery could not even see each other - and the ships catering staff having to learn to deal with it.

On the subject of security, I remember it being very tight indeed. All the entrances to the engineering spaces were locked down one way or another with the exception of the main control room (MCR). This door was a double width, reinforced steel construct with a small bullet-proof glass window in one door protected by a steel flap. There was also a standard kind of door bell.

As the lowest of the low - an engine-room boy - I was given the day job of manning the door. In other words, I had to sit inside MCR and wait for someone to ring the bell. I would then lift the flap and look through the glass to see who wanted access. If I recognised them, I unlocked the door and let them in. Simples!

MRC was of course also manned by engineering officers at all times and there was a rifle kept under the control desk just in case. Mechanics and AMs wanting to get to their watch stations or wherever they needed to work could only access the boiler room, TCR etc via MCR and to do that they had to get past me!

It was pretty boring work. That is until one day the bell rang and I lifted the flap to find that I couldn't see anyone. I immediately alerted the duty engineers and locked down the flap over the glass. I think there were three engineers on duty at the time. One was straight on the phone while another hit an alarm.

Well, all hell broke loose!

Outside the door was the sound of heavy feet, scuffles and a bit of yelling as I remember, but after as few minutes we got the message that it was all clear and that I should unlock the door and open it.

Much to everybody's surprise, a young PO mechanic - a scot whose name escapes me - had decided to pull a prank on me by ringing the door bell and ducking out of sight, presumably thinking I would be stupid enough to open the door and see who was out there in the short corridor. But no! I wasn't as stupid as people thought and I simply obeyed my orders.

The security - not sure if it was the private lot or the Master-At-Arms  - arrested him and I think he ended up being reprimanded. Of course, he tried to make out that I was the stupid one for not knowing it was him at the door, but how could I tell? I don't think he ever lived it down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On other matters:
Yes, we all got our £50 as we sailed into safe waters after the cruise was over. My father showed me a cutting from the Daily Telegraph about a plot to sink QE2 with a nuclear-tipped torpedo when I got home.

The Jewish people were very appreciative for what we had done for them. I went ashore most evenings and enjoyed the city of Haifa. Every time we passed through the dock gates, the armed soldiers - most of them hardly older than this 17-year-old - said, 'Thank you for bringing our people home.' which I thought was extremely polite of them. They would shake our hands and ask where we had come from or what we did on the ship

I remember travelling on a funicular railway that went up through a tunnel in the hills to a crater-like mall with bars cafes and a bowling alley! I went there quite a few times as ten-pin bowling was a favourite sport of mine.

Ashdod was fun - ok! Who stole the flags from the Docks? And who christened the dock wall with the name of the ship? I did like Ashdod. Nice beaches and a new town full of young people. Several of us went ashore there one night and asked where the nearest bar was. We got directions from one helpful soul with a sense of humour. He directed us to the only gay bar in the place! A little disconcerting when you're straight. Hey! I'm just saying. We did find a regular bar though and we never had any trouble.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I believe that same year we had the YPO cruise. If anyone would like, I can write my recollections of that too. Take care everybody and keep up the good work.

regards
Chris Shaftoe




Online Lynda Bradford

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2016, 10:14 AM »
Brilliant story Chris, thanks for sharing.  It is these personal memories that add to our knowledge about QE2 and her history. 

Looking forward to seeing more of your memories.
I was proud to be involved with planning QE2's 50 year conference in September 2017 in Clydebank
www.qe2event.com

Offline Alan Snelson

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2016, 12:17 PM »
Welcome to the forum Chris.

As Lynda says, it is the personal stories like this which add to our knowledge of QE2 and her history.

These stories are also what make this forum unique and sets it apart from other websites. The memories people bring here will be kept safe and accessible for years to come, to inform educate and entertain future generations.

Thanks for taking the time to share your memories with us and yes it would be great to hear more.
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Online Rob Lightbody

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Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2016, 01:16 PM »
Fantastic history Chris, bringing for me, a timeline event I'd heard about, alive as if I was there. Sometimes stories and memories like this are even better than photos. The world was watching the ship at that time.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 37 years and creator of this website.  Worked in IT for 27 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2016, 05:26 PM »
I can only agree with the comments above, Chris. Thank you so much for writing this up.

These are the stories that bring QE2's history alive, and that of her people. You were doing a very important job at the time, and doing it well!

It must have been really difficult for anyone handling food, quite possibly all the way down to the freezers and stores, and all the way into all the restaurants...

Please write some more when you get the chance! Looking forward to reading more of your memories.

Offline Twynkle

Re: QE2 1973 Charter to Israel
« Reply #19 on: Sep 03, 2016, 08:11 AM »
For research purposes, The Daily Mail 'story' as reported via this link may or may not be completely reliable! 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3768700/How-Colonel-Gaddafi-ordered-submarine-torpedo-QE2-retaliation-downing-Libyan-passenger-plane-Israel.html
QE2 had been waiting alongside in Dubai for nearly 12 years.  Please restore her Lifeboats and Tenders to where they truly belong - she looks naked without them - please spare her this ignominy.

 

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