After months of steel-cutting, welding and fabrication, the first block of Cunard’s new liner, Queen Elizabeth, was lowered into dry-dock at the Monfalcone shipyard in north-east Italy this afternoon.
Over the next few months, as the remaining sections of the hull are assembled, the 92,000-ton ship will take shape, ready to hit to the water for the first time when she is floated out in just six months’ time.
It will be October 2010 before the vessel, slightly larger than sister ship Queen Victoria, makes her maiden voyage – which sold out all 2,092 berths in a record 29 minutes.
Cunard president and managing director Carol Marlow (above) was at the shipyard today to perform the keel-laying ceremony. She said: “We are delighted to be back here among our friends at Fincantieri so soon after we took delivery of Queen Victoria in 2007, the first Cunarder to be built in Italy. I am sure that Queen Elizabeth will be just as popular and successful.
“We at Cunard are always impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone at Fincantieri, and we look forward to the next year-and-a half of working closely with them on this ship”
Either by accident or design, today’s ceremony almost coincided with the anniversary of the maiden voyage of Cunard’s first-ever ship, the three-masted paddle steamer Britannia, which set off from Liverpool, headed for Boston, Massachussetts, on July 4, 1840.