Portions of Long Beach’s crown waterfront jewel are falling further into disrepair.
Four years after a marine survey warned that the Queen Mary’s state of decay was “approaching the point of no return,” new inspection reports revealed some areas of the ship are still suffering from deterioration.
In a June report — the most recent that’s publicly available — an inspector wrote that his findings caused him to have “significant doubt about the maintenance and safety upkeep of the property.”
Edward Pribonic, the inspector tasked with writing up monthly reports on the Queen Mary’s maintenance, has also submitted inspections for both July and August to the city, but officials have not yet made those publicly available.
Pribonic said in a Tuesday, Sept. 24, phone interview that the “conditions that existed in June are still there.” He declined to comment further on the ship’s state, citing how “politically charged” the situation has become.
Representative for Urban Commons, the firm that manages the ship and is responsible for its current upkeep, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Pribonic’s June report noted numerous issues with portions of the ship that host the annual Dark Harbor mazes, including props being installed without evidence of fireproofing, a leaking water valve and deficient wiring.
But city officials said Tuesday that folks looking forward to Dark Harbor — which opens Thursday, Sept. 26 — need not worry about safety concerns, because Long Beach maintains a rigorous program to ensure attendees are in no danger.
Johnny Vallejo, the city’s Business Operations Bureau Manager, said the event organizer submits a safety plan to Long Beach, which is vetted by multiple city agencies, including the Police and Fire departments.
The plan for Dark Harbor includes applying flame inhibitor throughout the mazes, a process that’s overseen by the Fire Department.
“The Long Beach Fire Department additionally inspects those spaces daily as part of the event operations,” Vallejo said, “and has Fire Department staff on-site during all periods of the event.”
But Pribonic’s June report didn’t only focus on the portions of the Queen Mary that will be occupied by Dark Harbor.
The ship’s Russian submarine, he wrote, is a “worsening hazard to the Queen Mary.”
Pribonic found that the vessel should be removed and disposed.
“The outer hull is totally compromised and the condition of the pressure hull has never been examined, but logically, must be close to the condition of the outer hull,” he wrote. “Failure of the pressure hull would cause the vessel to sink, possibly striking or lodging beneath the Queen, and perhaps send pollutants directly into the moat.”
Vallejo acknowledged Tuesday that both the city and Urban Commons are operating with “limited resources,” but he said significant progress had been made to repair the ship.
He pointed to a Monday, Sept. 23, city memo sent to the Mayor and members of the City Council, which outlined work that’s been done so far.
The document noted that 19 of 27 critical projects on the Queen Mary are in progress or have already been completed. Funding still needs to be identified for the remaining eight, which include Health Department upgrades, lifeboat replacement and propeller box renovation.
“I think the fact that we do these inspections is evidence that we take our stewardship of the ship very seriously,” Vallejo said, “and that these are available to the general public offers that sense of openness and our willingness to share.”