As a Reporter and avid ship modeler, I was no stranger to the Public Relations Department at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Newport News, Virginia. My main contact there was a wonderful lady named Phyllis Stevenson. I know I had tried her patience many times with my endless requests for information and photographs of Newport News built Ships, particularly the SS America, a model of which I was building at the time. But this time, she was calling me. “John”, she said, “We have Royalty Coming”! “The Queen Elizabeth 2 is due here this afternoon for a quick hull repair,” she explained, “You must come down to see her”. She knew I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t. I hopped in my car and took off down I-64 East. As I approached Newport News I could see the ship towering over the waterfront. It was bitterly cold that Winter Afternoon, The wind chill must have been below zero as I hiked out to the gates to Shipway Number 10 — The Drydock in which the QE2 would be repaired.
The Ship had run afoul of a coral reef while on a cruise in the Caribbean and punched a hole in her hull. She had made a quick detour up the coast to Newport News with just Captain and Crew for a quick patch job. I grabbed a couple of shots and ran the roughly thousand feet to the head of the drydock just in time to get the shot I wanted. The Newport News Drydock Specialist standing in front of the huge knife like bow guiding the ship over the submerged blocks upon which the QE2 would rest while repairs were made.
I didn’t know it then but it was to be my last visit to the Queen Elizabeth 2 which has now been withdrawn from service and last I heard had been leased by Cunard to a concern in the Middle East as a floating Hotel. I always thought the QE2 had personality. It was one of the last ships that actually look like a ship. The ones today look more like buildings. Anyway, Long live the Queen. See you soon on most of this same site