The luxurious ocean liner, MV Queen Elizabeth will make her maiden call to Cobh tomorrow morning arriving at 9am and bringing with her over 3,000 passengers and crew. With a gross tonnage of 90,900 GRT and a guest capacity of 2,068 and 996 crew, MV Queen Elizabeth is the newest Cunarder to join the fleet.
To coincide with her maiden call, the Port of Cork together with Cunard will hold a Lusitania Memorial Service in the centre of Cobh town. Led by Captain Christopher Wells, this service will be attended by the Chairman of the Port of Cork, Port of Cork Directors, Mayor of the Town of Cobh, the County Mayor and the Lord Mayor. A number of other key figures have also been invited.
Cunard have a great history of calling to the Port of Cork and over the years all of Cunard’s liners have made a visit to Cobh. This year is the first year to welcome all three queens; Queen Mary II, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth to Cobh. In 2009, MV Queen Elizabeth II made her final call to Cobh before departing for Dubai where she was to become a floating hotel.
The following will be read at the Lusitania Memorial Service, by Captain Michael McCarthy Port of Cork;
The sinking of the Lusitania on 7th May 1915 was a human catastrophe on a scale that this small town had not experienced before or since.
When the Lusitania left New York there were 1,962 people on board, 694 crew,1,265 passengers and 3 stowaways. Only 764 people survived – 474 passengers and 290 crew. Over 800 of the victim’s bodies were never found. The bodies landed in Cobh were buried in 3 mass graves in the “Old Church Cemetary”.
The People in Queenstown, Cobh, witnessed the trauma, tragedy and heartbreak that ensued. The dead, the injured and the bereaved were brought among a community here that mobilised itself and responded with courage and compassion to their needs. One of the survivors, Charles Lauriat, later referred in his book “The Lusitania’s Last Voyage” to the streets filled with people ready to do anything in their power to relieve our sufferings. He said he had never seen anything more spontaneous or genuine or more freely given than the Irish hospitality of Queenstown.
This memorial reflects the eternal connection between Cobh, the” Lusitania” and Cunard, and is a stark reminder of the tragedy of war.
It is fitting that today Captain Christopher Wells of Cunard’s vessel “Queen Elizabeth” should be here together with the Mayor and people of Cobh to reflect on the great loss and the human tragedy of the “Lusitania”.
Queen Elizabeth: 73 years ago, Cunard’s first “Queen Elizabeth” entered service. The launching of that ship was described as “the inception of a great human enterprise, an act of faith”. Could they have imagined the design and capability of the current vessel berthed at the Cobh Cruise Berth?
In October 2008, Cunard announced the building of this magnificent vessel at an estimated cost of €500 million euros, and within 2 years the naming ceremony was carried out in Southampton by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11,. The vessel departed on her Maiden voyage under the command of Captain Chris Wells on the 12th October 2010 .She has already completed a World voyage, transited the Suez and Panama Canals and crossed the World’s Oceans.
Captain Wells has already served a long and distinguished career in the Merchant Navy and following many years in command, was in 2008 appointed Master of the Queen Mary 2, the same year the QE2 was retired from the Cunard Fleet. He was subsequently appointed the first Master of the Queen Elizabeth in 2009