Federal authorisation has been granted for the US Army Corps of Engineers to improve access to Port Everglades. The navigation channels are to be widened and deepened as part of improvements to the infrastructure of the port. Approval for the work was signed by President Obama on 16th December 2016.
Two projects are involved in this development: the Port Everglades Navigation Improvements and the Central Everglades Planning Project. Work is already in hand planning both projects and establishing the logistics. It is anticipated that 2,200 jobs will be created for the construction, and 1,500 permanent jobs once the work is completed. Already handling over 3.5 million cruise ship passengers last year and nearly $30 billion in trade, the development of the port will enable it to increase operations and modernise systems ready for growth in the future. It will be able to accommodate the larger cruise ships due in the next few years and also the larger post-Panamax containerships using the recently-widened Panama Canal.
By the late 1920s the directors of Cunard realised that their current fleet was becoming dated, and that marine engineering and technology was moving forward. It was time to have a fresh look at the needs of the modern trans-Atlantic passenger. After an extended design and research period, in early 1929 they put out a tender call to various UK shipyards. The successful bid was from John Brown’s on the Clyde, and on 1st December 1930 the contract was signed. At that time the hull was known simply as 534.
The slip used for Aquitania was lengthened and reinforced ready for the massive new liner. The first keel plate was officially laid on 27th December 1930. Work was underway on what was to become one of the world’s best-known liners – RMS Queen Mary. Work was halted by the Great Depression and Cunard’s faltering finances, but following the UK government’s intervention with a massive loan, she was eventually launched on 26th September 1934. Once fitting out was completed and the trials passed successfully, she left on her maiden voyage on 27th May 1936, to begin a hugely successful career, both as a trans-Atlantic passenger ship and as vitally-important troopship.
She gained the Blue Riband, and fought France’s Normandie several times before World War II, finally retaining it. Her war service saw her entering many areas of the world for which she had not been designed, and the lack of air conditioning aboard made many troops suffer when she was in the tropics. Refurbished after the war, she went on to forge a successful partnership alongside Queen Elizabeth, until the advent of jet aircraft and declining passenger numbers forced her withdrawal in 1967. Subsequently sold to Long Beach, California, she is permanently moored there as a memorial to the glory days of trans-Atlantic liners.
On 26th December 1876, White Star’s Oceanic I, under Captain Parsell, arrived at San Francisco. She had sailed from Yokohama in 14 days 15 hours 20 minutes, a new record. This beat the previous record set by Pacific Mail’s City of Peking.
Oceanic I was built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, and had been launched on 27th August 1870. She was the first ship with the hull built up to form the sides of passenger accommodation. She was handed over to White Star on 24th February 1871, and was placed on the Liverpool to New York service. On her maiden voyage there were engine problems and the trip was aborted. Following repairs, she quickly proved popular. She met a severe storm in mid-Atlantic on 24th December 1871, and lost 3 of her 4 propeller blades. The engines were stopped and she raised sails to continue. In spite of this Captain Thompson was able rescue the crew of a sinking American schooner.
At her first refit extra boilers were fitted and bunker capacity increased to giver her more power. A turtleback was fitted and the masts were shortened.
On 17th April 1875 Oceanic I sailed for Hong Kong, to inaugurate a joint service from Hong Kong and Yokohama to San Francisco. She returned to Belfast in late 1879 for another refit before returning to the Pacific. Finally on 17th May 1895 Oceanic I was back at Belfast for another refit, but after a survey she was deemed not worth it. Sold for £8,000 for scrap, she sailed from Belfast on 10th February 1896 on the Thames.
Despite recent reports that Fathom, a subsidiary of Carnival, was to drop Cuba from its itineraries, the company has just announced that it will be running another six 7-day cruises to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, from February through May 2017. The Cuban authorities have given permission for Fathom’s Adonia to include stops at Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city.
With so many cruise ships now suddenly being allowed into the once-restricted waters, it will be interesting to see how the island and its facilities cope with sudden influxes of tourists and travellers hungry to see how the island has survived. Will it manage to retain its historical integrity or will it all become cheapened and commercialised? Only time will tell……..
Originally laid down in 1914 at Harland & Wolff as Orca, for Pacific Steam, she was eventually launched in April 1917 after delays due to war work. Completed as a very basic cargo vessel, once released from war duties she was returned to Belfast and completed as originally planned. Transferred to the Royal Mail group on 1st January 1923, she initially ran on the Hamburg to New York route. Sold to White Star in 1927 for an amazing £1 million, she was renamed Calgaric. Her first voyage for her new owners was on 4th May 1927, from Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal. She was later moved to the Southampton to Canada service, before the effects of the Great Depression meant that she was no longer viable.
Calgaric was laid up at Milford Haven from late 1930, apart from an occasional cruise and a brief summer service to Canada in 1931. No longer wanted following the merger of Cunard and White Star in 1934, Calgaric was sold for £31,000 for scrap. She finally sailed to Rosyth, arriving on 25th December 1934, where she was scrapped soon after.
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