‘This is your Captain speaking’ – Captain Howarth fills us in on what life onboard Queen Elizabeth looks like for the Maritime team.

Where is the ship now?

Queen Elizabeth is currently anchored in Weymouth Bay. Here at anchor we’re not alone. Looking out of the window Queen Victoria, Aurora and Britannia share the bay with us along with a handful of cruise ships from other lines and the occasional tanker. It’s a busy little bay. Tenders from all the ships run back and forth into Portland Harbour, between the company there are ships delivering contractors, joiners and leavers and making essential deliveries. We also have a family of three resident dolphins in the Bay that pay us a visit each evening.

What is the Maritime team focusing on?

While we’re out of service, and have no Guests onboard, you may be forgiven for thinking that little is happening onboard. In fact, every department is working harder than ever to make sure that when the time comes for us to re-enter service we are ready.

Queen Elizabeth was the last ship in the fleet to return to UK waters. The months spent on the far side of the world with no means of resupply took their toll. Consequently, we are all working very hard to bring our beautiful ship back to her pristine condition. It’s a lot of work, particularly with a much smaller ship’s company, but everyone is pulling together magnificently to make it happen.

Since the ship is at anchor for much of the time, the emphasis lies more on maintenance than navigation. The Deck Officers are still keeping their regular watch-keeping hours as weather conditions may dictate that we could proceed to sea at anytime. However, the Third Officers now have the opportunity to use that time to carry out their other duties such as life saving equipment and fire gear inspections and maintenance, and safety rounds, and they help out with the painting of the ship as well. They also drive the tenders whenever we have a delivery to make.

Are there any projects going on?

Many projects are underway right now. The biggest on the deck side is the repainting of the superstructure along with the maintenance of the tenders and davits. Fresh water tank cleaning has also been carried out. The technical team are hard at work as well with boiler survey and repairs including exhaust gas boiler surveys on five of the units, Marioff Hi Fog system five year maintenance, annual surveys on the CO2 system and on oil content meters, and maintenance and upgrades on the AAQs systems (systems which remove sulphur from the exhaust). Maintenance on all the lifts onboard is also underway. On top of this, we have recently undertaken a very successful Passenger Ship Safety Certificate inspection by the Bermuda authorities. We are probably busier now than when we are in service!

A few words about sailing and savings?

With the ship laid up we are of course sailing less distance and using less fuel. Since our arrival into Southampton on 24 July until 15 September we have sailed 1809 nautical miles. In the same time period last year in Alaska we sailed 15,891 nautical miles. Fuel-wise we have saved 2933 tonnes of Heavy Fuel Oil and 833 tonnes of gas oil over the same period last year. This fuel saving is not just from the lesser distance but also less electricity being used for air conditioning, lighting and cooking, with most of the Guest areas now having been in darkness since operations ceased.

What are a challenge and a highlight for Wellbeing?

In order that we keep everybody healthy and Covid free, one of the sacrifices that all of us across the fleet have had to make is that there is no shore leave at all for anyone from the day we join. This is perhaps the biggest personal challenge that each of us face. It is therefore more important than ever that we look after each other and make life onboard as pleasant as possible.

A highlight is when we arrive in Southampton to the mail and Amazon deliveries which have become such a lifeline for us all onboard.

What’s next?

How does the old saying go – May you live in interesting times. Nobody could have predicted our current situation a year ago. With the fleet currently paused in operations life has changed immensely for all onboard.

We look forward to the time when we can welcome our Guests and the rest of our teammates back on board and we can show our White Star Service to the world once more. Until that time comes, we are here, keeping things going.

Next week Tracy Jessop, VP Guest Experience, will keep you posted on our return to service initiatives.

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