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August 7th

Illustration for article titled August 7th
Photo: Carnival (UK) Plc?

1982 - the Cunard Line’s ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2 begins its first peacetime voyage to New York, after service in the Falklands War as a troop ship and helicopter carrier. The liner, then the 2nd largest passenger ship in service, had been converted in just 7 days with the installation of 2 helicopter pads, a degaussing cable, underway refueling equipment, machine guns, surface-to-air missiles, and extra steel reinforcing plates along the outside of the hull under the waterline.

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Illustration for article titled August 7th
Photo: Carnival (UK) Plc?

As losing a ship bearing the name of the monarch (or the monarch’s mother, depending which story you go with), and the flagship of the merchant fleet, would have been a public relations disaster, the Royal Navy opted to have Queen Elizabeth 2 deliver her 3,000 troops to South Georgia, well outside the war zone, transferring them to the P&O liner Canberra for the final leg to the Falklands, since the capital of Australia was considered fine to risk. At South Georgia, QE2 took on survivors of the sunken HMS Antelope, HMS Ardent, and HMS Coventry, many of whom were badly wounded, and sailed back to Southampton to be welcomed home by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother abroad the Royal Yacht Britannia.

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Illustration for article titled August 7th
Photo: Carnival (UK) Plc?
Illustration for article titled August 7th
Photo: Carnival (UK) Plc?
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Refitting for commercial service took a lot longer than the conversion for military use, and QE2 did not resume service until August 7th. After 13 years of service, her funnel was finally painted in the traditional Cunard orange/red and black for the first time, and an experimental light grey hull color was tried out, allegedly to improve the efficiency of the air conditioning, but light color was too maintenance intensive and replaced after a year.

Illustration for article titled August 7th
Photo: Carnival (UK) Plc?
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1992 - Exactly 10 years after returning to service after the Falklands War, in which she had remained safely out of danger, Queen Elizabeth 2 was severely damaged in the friendly waters off Martha’s Vineyard. On a 5-day cruise of Eastern Canada and New England, QE2 ran aground on uncharted rocks, causing some pretty significant flooding that was later revealed to have been much worse than Cunard let on at the time. She actually ran aground twice on the same rock formation, an initial grounding, floated free for a few minutes, then grounded again. Aside from the rocks being uncharted, the captain had also miscalculated the draft due to the effect of squat, the ship being pulled lower into the water due to her speed, which wasn’t commonly understood at the time.

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