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QE2 Back Home After Stormiest N. Atlantic Crossing in 15 Years

May 31, 1987|From Reuters

SOUTHAMPTON, England — The newly refitted Queen Elizabeth 2 docked here Saturday after what the crew called its stormiest North Atlantic crossing in 15 years.

Winds of up to 50 m.p.h. rocked the liner, throwing passengers and their food across the dining room and forcing Capt. Lawrence Portet to sit strapped to his chair on the bridge, crew members told a reporter aboard the liner.

"All crockery and cutlery was thrown from the tables at breakfast and so were many of the passengers," one waiter said.

A doctor in the ship's hospital said several of the 1,800 passengers had suffered broken bones but refused to give details.

Bandaged Heads and Noses

Witnesses saw passengers walking around the ship the day after the storm with arms in slings and bandages on noses and foreheads.

Portet refused to comment on the damage, although one senior officer estimated that it totaled at least $84,000.

"The storm was completely unexpected. It was the worst weather the ship has been through in about 15 years," said the officer, who requested anonymity. He said several tables and TV sets were smashed.

Crew members reported windows knocked out by flying furniture, two pianos severely damaged and racks of clothes flung onto a dance floor from a shopping arcade above.

Forced to Change Course

The QE2, criticized by passengers for poor conditions on its first crossing from New York to England last month after a $168-million refitting, was forced to change course, arriving in this southern port several hours late.

Among passengers were French pianist and composer Michel Legrand, who reportedly refused to play a scheduled concert after one piano flipped on its end and the other lost its legs sliding around a room.

One vacationer said the listing was so severe his cabin porthole was submerged several times.

Passengers were given a newsletter Friday explaining that winds had reached gale force with seas as high as 37.5 feet.

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