QUEEN MARY 2
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The bridge on QUEEN MARY 2 is located in the
foremost part of the ship’s superstructure on Deck 12.
(See Photo 1). It spans the entire superstructure
running from port to starboard some 56.5 meters or 148
feet. Indeed, the bridge extends beyond the sides of the
ship so that the officers can see the entire length of the
ship. It was extended further to either side at the end of
2006 in order to improve the view of the side of the ship
relative to the pier when docking. With a height of 134
feet, the horizon is 13.5 miles away. (See Photo 2).
However, ships and land that project above the horizon
line, can be seen much further away.
Consisting of a central navigation area, chart room
safety center and two enclosed bridge wings that extend
out over the water, the bridge is the navigation and
safety hub of the ship. The name can be traced back to
the old paddlewheel steamships. So that the captain
would have a better view when navigating the ship, a
wooden structure was built across the ship linking the
tops of the paddlewheel enclosures. These links came
to be called the bridge.
On QUEEN MARY 2, the bridge is manned by
personnel from the Deck Department. Headed by the
Staff Captain, the Deck Department is responsible not
only for the navigation of the ship but also for safety,
security and maintenance including painting and
varnishing. In addition, Deck Department personnel
man the ship’s tenders, which take passengers to and
from shore when the ship is at anchor, and guard the
gangways when the ship is in port. Officers in the Deck
Department can be identified by the black spaces
between the gold stripes on their uniforms.
The Chief Officer, who reports to the Staff Captain, is
in charge of the bridge team. There are three watches
on the bridge: 12 to 4; 4 to 8; and 8 to 12. Normally, a
senior officer, a third officer and two helmsmen/lookouts
take each watch. Of course, other officers may be
present on the bridge as their duties require. At all
times, day and night, in port or at sea, the bridge is
manned with somebody from the Deck Department.
In physical layout, there are three control consoles on
the bridge, each with a similar set of controls. One is on
either side of the bridge in the bridge wings and one is in
the center. (See Photo 3). This arrangement allows the
ship to be maneuvered from the location that offers the
best vantage point. For example, when the ship is
docking with the starboard side to the pier, the captain
will maneuver the ship from the control console on the
starboard bridge wing. (See Photos 4 and 5). At sea,
the center console is used.
In front and to the sides of the center console are a
series of consoles with computer screens (Photo 6).
The navigational systems on QM2 are integrated through
the Kelvin Mantra System. This system allows the
electronic chart systems, the radars, and the safety
systems to share information. It also allows officers to
select from a number of interchangeable displays on the
computer screens located around the bridge. In addition
to the radar and chart displays, officers can see displays
about the engines, the fire zones, ballast, fuel etc.
QM2’s wheel is located on the center console.
(Photo 7). Like the wheel on QUEEN ELIZABETH 2,
it is rather small. A small wheel has been found to be
quicker and more responsive than the large wooden
wheels that once were used to steer ships. For the most
part, the wheel is only used when approaching ports, in
times of heavy traffic and during limited visibility when a
quick reaction may be needed. Even then, much of the
maneuvering is done using the pod controls (described
Most of the time, QM2 is steered by an autopilot. This
system takes into account the winds and currents and
keeps the ship on the course that is input by the
navigator. The navigator also inputs certain parameters
to keep the autopilot from turning too quickly thus
causing the ship to tilt and making the ride uncomfortable
for the passengers.
QUEEN MARY 2 is propelled through the water by
pods. The pods are structures that hang below the hull
of the ship weighing about 260 tons each. Each contains
a 21.5 megawatt electric motor which is directly
attached by a short motor shaft to a fixed pitch propeller
(six meters in diameter) on the front of the pod. The
electricity that powers the motors is generated by four
diesel generators and two gas turbine engines located
within the ship on Decks One and Twelve respectively.
They have a total power output of 117.2 MW, which is
equivalent to 157,168 horse power.
The propeller is on the front of the pod because a
propeller can obtain greater efficiency operating in
undisturbed water rather than in water that has been
disturbed such as occurs when a pod precedes it
through the water. Thus, QUEEN MARY 2 is actually
pulled through the water rather than pushed as in the
propeller and shaft arrangement traditionally associated
with passenger ships. (It should be noted that
positioning the propeller in the front of the pod is just a
matter of efficiency and that pods can work with the
propeller at the back. Indeed, one of the pods on
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS has the propeller on the
There are four pods on QM2. Two of them are in
fixed position and two can turn 360 degrees. The latter
two are called “azipods,” which is a contraction for
azimuthing pods. These pods turn in order to maneuver
the ship. Not only do they take the place of a rudder,
they can be set so as to hold the ship in position when
tendering and when used in conjunction with the ship’s
three bow thrusters (see below) to give side thrust. As
a result, except in very strong winds or currents, the ship
can be docked without the assistance of tug boats.
The fixed pods are located forward and outboard of the
two azipods. They are used in propelling the ship
forward and in reverse.
QM2’s maximum speed is approximately 30 knots.
During her sea trials, she was able to go from full speed
to a complete halt in 1.69 miles. It is believed that with
improvements that have been made since then that now
she could stop in about a mile. On a ship of her size
with a traditional propulsion system it would take
approximately 4 miles.
In Photo 8, the controls for the pods are in the center
of the bottom line of controls. The controls on either
side swivel in order to turn the azipods while the levers
mounted on top of them control the speed. The levers in
the center control the speed of the fixed pods.
Located next to the pod controls is a joy stick (See
Photo 9). By pushing this stick in different directions,
an officer can maneuver the ship ahead, astern or
laterally. This is made possible by the ship’s Dynamic
Positioning System which combines information from the
ship’s global positioning system (GPS) (discussed
below) and information derived from sensors as wind
and heading to determine what combination of bow
thrusters and pods will be need to maintain a specified
Immediately above the joystick are the controls for the
bow thrusters. There are three bow thrusters on QM2.
These are located below the waterline and consist of
three tunnels (3.3 meters in diameter) running from one
side of the ship to the other with a variable pitch
propeller in the center of each. These are used to
propel the forward end of the ship sideways. Since they
are only effective at speeds under 5 knots, steel doors
close over the tunnels when the ship is at sea. This
reduces the drag on the hull and allows the ship to
achieve greater speed.
Above: (Photo 1) Looking up at the bridge from
Below: (Photo 2) The view from the bridge. The
horizon is more than 13 miles away.
Above: (Photo 4) The port bridge wing. The window cut
into the floor allows the officers to see the relative position
of the ship's side and the pier when the ship is docking.
Below: (Photo 5) Looking down the port side from the
Above: (Photo 6) The area around the center console.
Below: (Photo 7) QM2's wheel is located on the center
Photo 3. The navigational controls are duplicated on each
bridge wing. The computer screens above the console can
display charts, radar, closed-circuit television and the ship's
"Harbor Approach" display.
Photo 8. The pod controls. On the left is the control for the
port azipod and on the right is the starboard azipod control.
The fixed pods are controlled by the center levers.
Photo 9. The joystick control. Above it are the controls for
the bow thrusters.
Cruise ship photo essay - - Cunard - - Queen Mary 2 - - virtual bridge tour