Purser's Office

Queen Mary 2

The Last Ocean Liner

Bridge: The bridge of QM2 is located on Deck 12, and is the navigation and safety center of the vessel. Consisting of a central navigation area, chart  room, safety center, and two totally enclosed bridge wings, the bridge is manned 24 hours a day by two navigating officers.

Propulsion And Pods: Queen Mary 2 is the first four propeller ship to be built since the France in 1962, and is indicative of the tremendous extra power that was needed to maintain a timely and reliable North Atlantic service, is powered by over 150,000 horsepower.

QM2's propellers are driven by four pods each weighing more than a 747 jumbo jet. This eliminated the need for propeller shafting and offers a substantial savings on efficiency and space.

The forward pods provide only ahead and astern propulsion, while the after pods provide full 360 degree rotation. These pods provide propulsion and steering, enabling the vessel to do away with the rudder. With the pods actually pulling instead of pushing through the water as conventional propellers do, the pod's effect is counter to that of a rudder. For instance, when the pods are rotated clockwise to starboard, the vessels bow will move to port.

The ship also has three transverse bow thrusters with an output of 15,000 HP. When not in use, hinged doors cover the thruster openings providing a streamlined shape for high speeds.

When docking, the two azimuthing pods are often placed at 90 degree angles to the hull, and when combined with the bow thrusters, enable the ship to move sideways, while maintaining the same heading. At the same time, the two fixed pods provide ahead and astern propulsion enabling exact positioning alongside the quay.

Dynamic Positioning System: QM2 is outfitted with a Dynamic Positioning System (DP) which can automatically control the position of the vessel to within a few meters. Using various sensors, such as wind, heading and GPS speed, the DP build a model to accurately predict what combination of bow thrusters and pods will be needed to maintain a specific position. With DP, QM2's position can be adjusted in one meter increments if necessary.

The DP can also control the ship through a joystick, which allows the officers to maneuver the ship by maintaining a set heading of the bow while moving the ship ahead or astern laterally.

Bridge Wings: Spanning 148 feet, the totally enclosed bridge wings allow the Captain and senior officers to view the ship's hull as it approaches a pier and to nudge distances when maneuvering in harbor. Also, a glass plate is cut into the decking allowing the officers to look directly beneath them.

Control of all four pods and the three bow thrusters can be taken here. Displays concerning the vessel's speed and position are available here as well. Two screens incorporated in the Manta System allow officers to switch screens between radar and chart displays, cameras from the closed circuit TV system, and the vessel's "Harbor Approach" display. Also on the bridge wing are controls for the Dynamic Positioning System. With a height of eye of 134 feet, the horizon is 13.5 miles away although vessels and land can often be seen from much further away due to their respective height above the water.

Kelvin Hughes Manta System: The Manta System is the heart of the navigation system consisting of electronic charts, radars and Computer Safety System. Five flat screens with interchangeable displays allow officers to choose which of the radar and chart displays they want shown. With integration allowing different units to talk to each other and share information, the deck officer is able to more easily assimilate and make use of the available navigation information.

Electronic Chart Display Information System: Queen Mary 2 has two separate Electronic Chart Display Information Systems, as well as separate Route Planning Terminal. One of the advantages of the electronic charts is the instant access to navigational information, including speed required, estimated time of arrival, distance to go, or how far off track the vessel is.

The electronic charts are either a scanned version of the British Admiralty Charts (ARCS) or are Vector Style Charts which allow the operator to choose various information layers within the chart and individually tailor the display. With EDCIS, Queen Mary 2 is able to reduce the paper charts on board by 80%, and whereas 1,800 paper charts were carried on QE2, on QM2, all the world's charts can now be stored on only 11 CD-ROMs. Updates and corrections to reflect new soundings, changes in bouyage, or other pertinent navigational equipment is supplied weekly, ensuring that the charts are safely up to date. Paper charts are used for critical areas, and a chart table is provided on the starboard side of the bridge.

Traditional navigation can still be practiced on electronic charts as visual and radar changes  and bearing to points of land can be plotted onto the ECDIS, thereby verifying the accuracy of the GPS position.

Radars: Queen Mary 2 has five radar planners and four radar processors. Four of these antennae can easily be seen rotating on the main mast and allow for long range, forward facing detection and navigation, while a fifth antenna is located on the stern, and allows for complete 360 degree coverage.

The stern radar is not usually used at sea as the main radars provide an adequate long range view astern, but the aft radar might be used in congested waterways or harbor maneuvering.

With the built-in Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA), over 40 targets can be tracked simultaneously. Any targets true course and speed as well as closest point of approach, the closest time of approach, how far ahead the vessel's bow the target will cross and other collision avoidance information is instantly accessible on the radar.

With the integration of the bridge equipment, the course line can be overlaid onto the radar screen and radar targets along with their predicted motion can be overlaid from the radar onto the ECDIS display. This is a tremendous aid to navigation, especially in congested waterways where course changes are frequent.

The Computer Safety System: The Computer Safety System (CSS) allows the officer to monitor all safety systems throughout the ship and, with the detailed deck plans covering the entire ship, have a visual indication covering any situation.

All water tight doors, fire screen doors, ventilation, low level lighting and other safety systems can be operated through this system on the bridge, and in the safety center.

While not actually part of the CSS, other equipment on the bridge allows the officers to monitor engine performance, adjust levels in the heeling tanks to keep the ship upright, calculate the ship's stability or empty and fill the ship's swimming pools.

Gyro And Magnetic Compasses: Queen Mary 2 has two fiber optic gyro compasses, which are electronic compasses that align themselves with true north. This information is sent to various repeaters throughout the ship, and is used by helmsman when steering and as an input to the Automatic Radar Plotting Aides, ECDIS, and satellite communication equipment. The officers still check the accuracy of the gyros several times a day by taking bearing on stars and the sun and comparing the compass bearings versus the calculated bearing that the astronomical body should read. QM2 also carries a magnetic compass, which reads slightly differently from true north due to variations in magnetic fields around the world as well as the influence of the magnetic field around the ship. The magnetic field around the ship is influenced by the ship's steel and electrical equipment and changes depending on the ship's heading.

GPS: The Global Positioning System utilizes 24 satellites circling the Earth to pinpoint QM2's position and give instant course and speed made good by the vessel. Two sextants are still carried onboard as a back up, and all officers are thoroughly trained in celestial navigation.

Stabilizers: There are four stabilizers in the ship, that when in use, extend 15 feet from the hull, and are visible in calm seas from Deck 7. While they are housed within the hull while in port, at sea they swung out and moved up and down complete with flaps like on an aircraft wing, and provide thrust to counteract any rolling motion of the ship. Because the stabilizers are dependant on the flow of water past the fins to create the necessary thrust, they are less effective at slow speeds.

Global Maritime Distress And Safety System: The GMDSS is a worldwide system that allows vessels to quickly transmit distress signals to shore based rescue centers as well as nearby vessels. The system also provides for more routine uses such as weather forecasts or navigational information and warnings. The equipment consists of medium and high frequency radios with TELEX transceivers, VHF radios and INMARSAT-C satellite terminals and largely replaces the radio officer of past years.

Whistles: Queen Mary 2 has four whistles - two on the funnel, one on the mast and one on the bow. Of the two whistles on the funnel, the starboard one is the original whistle from the Queen Mary while the port whistle is a modern but accurate replica. The forward whistles can be heard for over ten miles and are used for maneuvering signals to other vessels and during periods of reduced visibility. All whistles are tested every day while at sea at noon.

Watch a Video From ThyssenKrupp

Further Technical Reading on QM2 At Cunard Queen's Blog

QM2 in Blohm & Voss Dry Dock Hamburg:

  1. 1st visit: 8 to 19 Nov.2005, scheduled maintenance: More.........
  2. 2nd visit : 6 to 10 May 2006, unscheduled repair of damaged pod. Also 3rd visit: 12 to 17 Nov 2006, scheduled maintenance and repair: More..........
  3. 4th visit: 23 Oct to 13 Nov 2008 , scheduled maintenance and refit: More.........

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