For the first time, Cunard’s fleet gathered together in spectacular fashion in Liverpool, its spiritual home, as the company marked its 175th anniversary. The event culminated with the three ships – flagship Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria – the largest passenger ships ever to muster together on the River Mersey, lined up across the river just 426 feet apart as the Red Arrows performed a fly-past overhead to the delight of the hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Queen Mary 2 sailed from the Liverpool berth up to the mouth of the Mersey this morning at 10:45 a.m. to meet her sisters, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The three ships then sailed in close single file down the river to Liverpool’s Pier Head with its iconic Three Graces: The Royal Liver Building, The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building.
Queen Mary 2 slowed in the river opposite the Cunard Building – Cunard’s headquarters for nearly 50 years until 1967 – with her sister ships stopping ahead of her to create a three ship line-up watched by spectators on both sides of the river.
Just 1,312 feet apart, the three ships then performed a graceful 180 degree synchronized turn to starboard. At the mid-point of the turn, all three ships lay across the river, creating the spectacle of the fleet’s three bows dramatically set against the backdrop of Liverpool’s famous Three Graces. Queen Mary 2 then sounded ‘175’ on her ship’s whistle (foghorn) – first one, then seven short blasts, then five more.
With the full turn completed and the 150,000 ton Queen Mary 2 now in the leading position, her two 90,000 ton sister ships then glided slowly towards either side of her to create an arrowhead formation, with the flagship just ahead of her two consort ships.
Finally, the entire fleet lined up three abreast across the river just 426 feet apart, as a salute to the Cunard Building and the City of Liverpool.
With the Three Queens in this tight formation, the Red Arrows flew in formation low over the Three Queens as they lined up on the river, a coup de grace which created a once-in-a-lifetime moment that thrilled hundreds of thousands of spectators.
Commodore of the Cunard fleet Christopher Rynd said, “It’s been a privilege to bring the Cunard fleet together on the Mersey for the first time ever to mark Cunard’s 175th anniversary year and our historic and ongoing partnership with Liverpool, our spiritual home.”
“All of us at Cunard are moved by the incredible reception the Three Queens have received from the people of Liverpool and beyond today,” remarked Richard Meadows, Cunard, President, North America. “This moment has brought the relationship between Cunard and the Mersey alive, and that together, Liverpool and Cunard have paid tribute to the people who have created our 175 years of shared history.”