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Former owners Cunard pour cold water on reports QE2 is destined for Chinese scrapyard
THE former owners of Southampton’s most famous liner have cast doubt on reports she has been sold for scrap.
Cunard dismissed reports Queen Elizabeth 2 was bound for a Chinese scrapyard as “speculation”.
The ship has been moored in Dubai for four years amid ambitious plans to convert her into a luxury hotel.
But fears about her future grew when the skeleton crew, who had looked after her since her arrival in the Middle East, were reportedly ordered to leave the vessel to be replaced by a team of Chinese seamen.
The Dubai owners have made no official comment but reports originating there over Christmas suggested that the ship was being prepared for her last voyage, a one-way trip to the breaker’s yard.
However, Cunard has dismissed this as “pure speculation”, sparking hopes for the liner’s future.
A statement posted on a social networking site said the firm had received “messages of understandable concern” from fans of the much-loved ship.
It added that the company remained “in close contact with Dubai” and warned people to “ignore” reports of a £20m Chinese scrap deal.
Nobody was available for comment from Istithmar, the investment firm that acquired QE2 in 2008.
Terry Yarwood, who once headed a group of enthusiasts who tried to keep the liner in Southampton, said: “I would still love to see her as a hotel – and preferably in this country.
“But I find it astounding that Dubai, having wanted the vessel, cannot find something to do with her.”
Southampton said farewell to QE2 in November 2008 when she set sail for the Middle East, when it was planned she would be transformed into a world-class tourist and convention centre.
But with a worsening economy, starting dates for the scheme came and went amid assurances the plans had not been abandoned.
A scaled down blueprint was drawn up lastyear to bring QE2 into service, together with the announcement she would be open for business in 18 months’ time.
QE2 served in the Falklands War, sailed 5.6m nautical miles and carried 2.5m passengers during an illustrious career lasting 40 years.