City of Long Beach, Port of LB to Begin Queen Mary Transfer Talks

Long Beach City Council members agreed Tuesday to officially start talks that could lead to the Harbor Department – which manages the Port of Long Beach – taking over responsibility of the Queen Mary and Pier H.

Negotiations – which could take up to a year before returning before the Council for consideration – will encompass various issues, including plans to manage lease agreements of Pier H tenants such as Carnival Cruise Lines and Catalina Express, make capital improvements, and preserve and sustain the Queen Mary, according to the staff report.

The move has drawn criticism from supply chain stakeholders who fear that operations at the port would be negatively impacted by the responsibility of having to manage an historic ship that will cost millions of dollars to fix.

In a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Robert Garcia and members of the City Council, Pacific Merchant Shipping Association President John McLaurin expressed his opposition to the potential transfer.

“The Harbor Department is not in the business of hotel or amusement park management,” McLaurin wrote, adding that staff members haven’t provided a path that would make the Queen Mary a successful business enterprise.

“(The port’s) ability to compete in a global marketplace, meet zero emission environmental goals and continue to positively impact the Southern California and national economies should not be jeopardized by a venture that has consistently failed for over 40 years,” the letter continued.

The city, which has owned the Queen Mary since 1967, previously leased to operators whose job it was to maintain and repair the ship. The city regained full control of the tourist attraction in June after the last operator filed for bankruptcy.

By Karen Robes Meeks