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Long Beach is set to begin long-awaited “critical” repairs to the aging Queen Mary ship next month as part of a $5-million project.

There had been growing concerns that historic floating hotel and tourist attraction could fall into critical disrepair and be in danger of sinking.

Last July, the city of Long Beach regained control of the Queen Mary for the first time in over 40 years, and the City Council was presented with several options to deal with the ship, including dismantling or sinking it.

An initial amount of $2.5 million of funding for repairs was later approved by city council members, using Tidelands Funds.

The ship has been closed to the public since 2020, but officials said the Queen Mary could reopen once the first phase of repairs is completed later this year.

While it remains closed to the public until the repairs are completed, it is still available for filming, which helps generate revenue for the ship.

“It is our responsibility to preserve the Queen Mary and ensure this historic landmark is properly cared for,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Now that the city has full oversight and control of the Queen, it’s important we make the critical repairs needed.”

One of the first critical first steps is removing the ship’s deteriorated lifeboats, which have been exerting stress on the side shell of the ship and creating severe cracks in its support system.

Removing the lifeboats will enhance the structural stability of the Queen Mary, officials said. 

The city will also install new permanent bilge pumps to discharge water intrusion in the event of an emergency. That’s in addition to planned improvements to the bulkhead, emergency generator and to the water intrusion warning system. 

Long Beach officials said the repairs are needed as a result of “decades of deferred maintenance by former operators of the ship and are critical for its preservation.”

Earlier studies have estimated that the Queen Mary needs as much as $289 million in renovations to keep it from flooding, including $23 million in immediate repairs.

The city gained control of the ship after the company that was operating it, Eagle Hospitality Trust, filed for bankruptcy.

“Addressing these critical repairs has been a long time coming and an effort that will greatly benefit the structural safety and historical preservation of the Queen Mary,” Councilwoman Mary Zendejas said in a statement. “With the City now overseeing control of the ship, I am confident this year will bring tremendous progress towards protecting this historic feature of our community.”

The Queen Mary arrived in Long Beach in 1967 after carrying over 2 million passengers on more than 1,000 voyages across the North Atlantic. On the Southern California coast, it became a floating hotel, attraction and event venue.