While every person and part aboard a liner such as the RMS Queen Mary 2 plays an indispensable role in the luxury cruise experience, the electric and rudderless propulsion system, unbeknownst to most guests, is the reason the trip can take place at all.
“The Queen Mary 2 isn’t the latest or biggest ship to ply the high seas, but it is one of the most innovative in terms of propulsion,” says Espen Tandberg, manager of sales and technical sales support at Rolls-Royce Marine Services in Kristinehamn, Sweden. Tandberg oversaw the 17-day planned overhaul of the ship’s thrusters, stabilizers and Mermaid™ podded propulsors in June 2016.
Four podded propulsors hanging off the stern is still a unique set-up in the Rolls-Royce Marine world.
Espen Tandberg, manager of sales and technical sales support at Rolls-Royce Marine Services, Kristinehamn, Sweden
Built in 2004 for Cunard Line at a cost of 800 million US dollars – the most expensive cruise ship ever built – and christened by the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II, the QM2 includes all the usual and superlative features lavish interiors, food and entertainment galore and a pampering crew. The keys to sailing the seas in such style are the four 260-tonne podded electric propulsors (two fixed and two swivelling, or azimuthing), each drawing 21.5 MW. The totally installed power would be enough to power a city of 300,000 people.
The Rolls-Royce Mermaid pods give the QM2, at 148,528 GT (gross tonnage), precision manoeuvrability in port and a maximum speed of 30 knots (56 km/h) at sea. The QM2 power plant comprises four diesel and two gas turbines, the output power of which is converted into electricity that powers the complete ship.