LONG BEACH (CNS) - The city of Long Beach next month will begin the first phase of what is likely to be a lengthy -- and expensive -- series of repairs to the Queen Mary.
Last June, the city regained control of the tourist attraction ship for the first time in four decades, as the previous operator surrendered its leases for oversight of the vessel. Reports released last year determined that the vessel could potentially sink absent an estimated $23 million in repairs.
The city subsequently identified about $5 million in critical repair work, and half of that amount has been included in this year's municipal budget. The City Council is expected to consider additional funding in the coming months.
To begin the work, a contractor next month will begin removing deteriorated lifeboats, which city officials said are putting stress on the ``side shell'' of the ship, leading to cracks in the support system. The city plans to keep two of the lifeboats for ``future preservation'' on the Queen Mary. Thirteen others will be placed into storage, and city officials plan to gauge interest from nonprofits, museums or other groups who may be interested in preserving one or more of them.
Interested organizations can contact Johnny Vallejo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The lifeboat removal is expected to take about two weeks.
The initial repair work will also include the installation of bilge pumps. Some electrical repair work has already been done. Attention will later turn to improvements to the ship's bulkhead, emergency generator and ``water intrusion system,'' according to the city.
``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.''
While the ship remains closed to the public, it will still be available for filming, ``which helps generate revenue to support the ship operations,'' according to the city.