Luxury Liner Leaves for Permanent Repairs

TEMPORARY repairs on the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth 2 are complete and the ship is currently traveling under her own power to Hamburg, Germany, for permanent repairs.

The QE2 was slowly floated out of South Boston's dry dock No. 3 on Sept. 1 with the aid of capstans - tie lines attached to the dock - and several tugboats.

As the ship reached open water, the tugboats moved away and the 67,000-ton vessel powered up for the trip across the Atlantic.

The luxury liner spent 22 days here - nine days less than originally scheduled. Nearly 200 workers at the General Ship Corporation labored around the clock, seven days a week, to get the ship back in shape, according to company spokesman William Coughlin.

"The work was extensive, and we were happy to do it," Mr. Coughlin said. He said the contract for the permanent work was awarded to a German firm because the QE2's owners wanted it closer to home on the British side of the Atlantic.

The ship is scheduled to sail again on Oct. 4 when it will go from Southhampton, England, to Gibraltar, Coughlin said.

Strengthening the vessel for its voyage to Germany this week are steel doublers - plates welded across the hull - that cover the damage sustained Aug. 7 when she hit an uncharted obstacle in a channel between Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands.

After the accident, more than 1,800 passengers on the return leg of a round-trip cruise from New York to Newfoundland were evacuated and put on buses for the rest of the journey. Watertight compartments in the double-hulled ship kept it afloat.

Shortly after the accident, there was speculation that the ship was traveling too fast for the channel.

High speed causes a ship to sink deeper into the water, says Jerome J. Milgram, a professor of ocean engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This, in turn, could have caused it to hit uncharted rocks.

An investigation into the accident is currently under way. It is being handled jointly by the US Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board, which have yet to release any findings.

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