Friday, March 18, 2005

Queen Mary Future In Doubt

The California operator of the Queen Mary has filed for bankruptcy, putting in doubt the future of the famed ocean liner turned tourist attraction, a spokeswoman for the company said. The move follows a rent dispute between the city of Long Beach, where the ship has been docked for 37 years, and the company that leases the Art Deco treasure that once transported celebrities and politicians across the Atlantic. Queen's Seaport Development Inc., which leases the ship, filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, a day before it had to come up with $3.4 million in back rent to Long Beach. The city, which owns the ship, had threatened to terminate the company's 66-year operating lease if it did not repay what officials said were inappropriate rent credits taken for upgrades to the ship and developing the surrounding area. The Queen Mary, commissioned by Cunard Line and built in Britain, made its maiden voyage in 1936. It was the choice of entertainers such as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and statesmen such as Britain's Winston Churchill. The ship was retired from regular service and turned over to Long Beach in 1967. City officials had hoped to make the ship, part of which is now a hotel, the center of a seaside tourist development in the Los Angeles area. But other attractions never materialized and the ship has struggled to turn a profit.

The Queen Mary has been docked at Long Beach for 37 years.

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