The Queen Mary tourist attraction, moored in Long Beach's harbor, is in such bad shape that its hull could collapse and flood if repairs costing as much as $289 million are not completed in the next few years.
That is one of the conclusions of a marine survey, conducted by naval architects and vessel experts at the request of Long Beach city officials, to assess the structural condition of the ship.
"The very severe structural steel corrosion has resulted in 1½ inch thin tank top being rusted away to nothing in some places," the report said. "We predict at this rate of corrosion some internal collapse of the Queen Mary's structure will occur within ten years unless major action is taken soon."
Previous studies recommended upgrades to the decking, plumbing, furniture and other amenities needed for the 81-year-old ocean liner to operate as a thriving tourist attraction and floating hotel.
But as part of the marine survey, specialists spent a week on Queen Mary in October 2015, examining the inside and outside of the ship, above and below the water line. The study, first reported by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, called for urgent actions to avoid a collapse of the ship's compartments and "to mitigate a life safety hazard."
The study pointed out "systemic corrosion problems in the interior" at the tank tops, which act as a platform for machinery and cargo, and the ship's hull, caused by longstanding failure of the bilge system and leaks in the sewage holding tanks. Failure to make such fixes, the study said, could lead to the "instability of the vessel."
Divers discovered an area of the hull that is at risk of leakage and flooding because the watertight compartment walls of the ship were removed during retrofitting work the 1960s, the study said.
In response to the study, the city of Long Beach is working with the lease operator of the ship to develop a preservation plan, said John Keisler, the city's economic and property development director.
Already, $23 million has been approved to address the most urgent repairs with $12 million expected to be completed in 2017, he said.
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