The City of Long Beach says critical repairs of the Queen Mary have entered the final stages, meaning portions of the iconic cruiseliner could reopen to the public soon.

The historic cruise ship docked in Long Beach has been closed to the public for much of the year while critical repairs took place. The ship is regularly used for film and television productions, and those portions remained opened during the repairs.

The ship is maintained by the City of Long Beach and earlier this summer, the city completed another round of repairs that were described as critical. Previously, the Queen Mary was managed by a third-party, but when that company filed for bankruptcy in 2021, the city assumed operational control over the ship for the first time more than 40 years.

The ship was in such need of repairs that some experts feared it would eventually sink without them.

In the ten months since the city assumed control of the cruiseliner, major structural repairs have taken place and the city hopes those repairs will keep the famous cruise ship floating for the long haul.

In the summer, the city upgraded the ship’s bulkheads to enhance their safety and effectiveness. Bulkheads are the inner walls of the hull that prevents the ship’s water intake, the city said. They were extended, making them watertight and improving the ship’s structural stability.

The city also removed 20 deteriorated lifeboats, which has helped reinforce the overall integrity of the ship. The boats were extremely heavy and caused unneeded stress on the ship. The city tried unsuccessfully to auction off the lifeboats for preservation. Instead, they’ve been discarded, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The city also began the process to install automated bilge pump systems, a critical safety component that removes any excess water from the ship. Eleven bilge pump platforms had to be built to support the new system, which will be installed in early 2023.

This latest and final round of repairs will see the city install an emergency generator that can power the bilge pumps and any critical lighting in the event of a power failure. The city will also finish the installation of two boilers and heat exchangers early next year which will allow for hot water to be used for cooking and cleaning.

All in all, about 75% of the total critical internal repairs that the city has planned will be completed by the end of this year, with the rest to be completed in early 2023.

After those critical repairs are completed, the city will then turn to cosmetic upgrades, including new paint, flooring and railing replacement and upgraded LED lighting systems. Those repairs will continue to take place after the ship reopens to the public.

One of the eleven bilge pump platforms that were installed as part of the Long Beach City’s critical repairs of the Queen Mary is shown in this undated photo (City of Long Beach)
One of the eleven bilge pump platforms that were installed as part of the Long Beach City’s critical repairs of the Queen Mary is shown in this undated photo (City of Long Beach)

When it reopens, the ship will have a new manager for its hotel and restaurants. In June, the city reached into an agreement with Evolution Hospitality, LLC. to operate those businesses, as well as its entertainment attractions and any “ship-related events” over the next five years. The city has spent about $3.6 million on improvements and staffing costs ahead of the reopening.

An exact timeline for when the Queen Mary will reopen to the public is unclear, but the city has created a website to track its progress. The website also includes history of the ship and information about its economic impact to the area.

“In just ten months since the city’s acquisition of the lease, the Queen Mary has begun to receive the necessary care and commitment it deserves,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “I look forward to getting people back on board to enjoy this historical treasure once again.”