Submarine owner blames Queen Mary leaseholder for rust, grime and raccoon infestation

The Scorpion submarine is docked next to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. In a lawsuit, the Scorpion's owner claims that the operator of the Queen Mary failed to maintain the sub as agreed.
(The Queen Mary)

The Scorpion patrolled the Pacific Ocean for 22 years as an attack submarine of the Soviet navy.

But now the boat is an aging tourist attraction, docked adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, and its owner claims that the sub is rusting away because the leaseholders of the Queen Mary have refused to maintain the vessel as required under a management agreement.

The submarine’s owner, California-based NewCo Pty Ltd., filed a lawsuit this week naming several previous and current leaseholders of the Queen Mary, the former ocean liner turned into a boutique hotel. The suit asks for $10 million to repair the damage caused to the 45-year-old submarine.

The city of Long Beach owns the Queen Mary but leases the ship and the adjacent land to operate as a tourist attraction.


Urban Commons, a Los Angeles-based real estate and development company that took over the Queen Mary lease in April, said it was looking into the allegations made in the lawsuit.

“While we do not have any involvement with the vessel, we are looking into the matter,” the company said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, notes that the lease for the Queen Mary and the Scorpion has changed hands several times over the past two decades.

But the lawsuit targets a previous leaseholder, the Garrison Investment Group, saying it had agreed to pay the owner of the Scorpion $200,000 a year in rent and maintenance costs. The suit contends that Garrison neglected the submarine since 2011 in hopes that the repairs would be so extensive that Garrison could terminate the lease.


A Garrison representative declined to comment.

In addition to rust, grime and peeling paint, the Scorpion is also infested with raccoons, according to the lawsuit. Last June, the neglect caused the submarine to list to the port side, forcing it to close to tourists, the lawsuit claims.

Urban Commons has big plans for the marine complex that could include a $250-million entertainment and retail area with a giant Ferris wheel. The company is working with a task force to come up with ideas for developing the 45 acres surrounding the Queen Mary, now mostly parking lots, as well as for events that will attract more visitors to the area.


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