R.M.S. Queen Mary, arguably the best-loved of all the great Atlantic liners, was conceived as Cunard's answer to their competitors' attempts to topple them from their domination of the profitable North Atlantic passenger trade. Laid down on Clydebank in 1930, building work was suspended from December 1931 -- April 1934 due to the economic depression, but she was launched by Her Majesty Queen Mary on 16th September 1934. Completed in April 1936, she was the largest vessel in the world at 81,234 tons gross and measured 1,020 feet in length with a 119 foot beam. With sumptuous 'art deco' accommodation for 1,995 passengers in three classes, her maiden voyage from Southamton to New York in late May 1936 was a huge success and she captured the Blue Riband from Normandie on her sixth crossing that August. Commissioned as a troop transport in March 1940, she spent the War ferrying just over 800,000 troops across the globe wherever they were needed. Although never attacked herself, she was involved in a celebrated incident in October 1942 when she rammed one of her escort vessels, the British cruiser H.M.S. Curacao, with Queen Mary going at full speed, the force of the impact sliced Curacao clean in half and 338 of her crew were drowned in the tragedy.
Released from trooping duties in 1946, she was reconditioned and resumed her peacetime sailings in July 1947. Showing her age under growing competition from air travel, she was finally retired in 1967 and sold to the city of Long Beach, California, for $3,450,000. Arriving there on 9th December 1967, she was given a permanent mooring and converted into a floating hotel after 31 years of service at sea during which she steamed 3,795,000 miles and carried 2,115,000 fare-paying passengers.