Major Naval Architecture Project Completed

We are delighted to start 2020 by sharing the news that our naval architects, Brookes Bell, have completed a major study into TS Queen Mary; the most extensive study undertaken since the ship was designed and built.

Supporters already know about some of the work carried out by Brookes Bell, from previous posts. However, to give you a feel for the scale of the exercise and an understanding of the background to it, we have pulled together this short report.

By the summer of 2018 the finishing line for the strip out of TS Queen Mary was starting to hove into view. Over the course of 2018:

– The boat deck had been cleared of all of the composite material that had covered it, and the exposed timbers had been battened down (to mitigate against leaks from areas of failed caulking)
– A project to assess the viability of re-planking and caulking the decks had been completed (using the foredeck as the test bed)
– A new wheelhouse deck-head had been instated to stop water ingress in that area
– The project to change-out each of the promenade deck windows and to undertake shell repairs (as required) was reaching its conclusion
– All remaining loose articles, pipes, brackets etc on the promenade and main decks had been removed.

The last major job would be to demolish and empty the ship’s lower deck. Working on an autumn start date, we anticipated that the job would take our cohort of volunteers some six months to complete (i.e. until spring 2019).

It had also become clear that the Charity needed to appoint a marine consultancy to provide the naval architecture and engineering support that would be necessary for taking the project forward.

Several SMEs were approached and the Trustees were extremely impressed by the Glasgow-based firm, Brookes Bell. Kieran Dodworth (Director of Naval Architecture) and Andy McGibbon (Senior Naval Architect) both expressed tremendous enthusiasm for restoring TS Queen Mary.

The firm (which also has offices across the UK and Far East) would be able to provide the Charity with a 360 degree service, with in-house specialists able to deliver the full suite of services that would be required to plan and deliver TS Queen Mary’s refit.

A kick-off meeting was held on 23rd August 2018, at Glasgow Science Centre. Andy McGibbon had been tasked to lead the project and he immediately set to work, identifying the following necessary jobs:

(1) A full review of all surviving drawings
(2) The completion of the strip-out of the lower deck, to facilitate various surveys
(3) An incline of the ship (once the strip out was done) in order to start a new stability book
(4) A full structural survey (including an assessment of watertight sub-divisions and the creation of a comprehensive ultra-sonic thickness map) in order to identify areas that still required steel replacement
(5) An operational risk assessment to identify and assess the risks of operating TS Queen Mary as a static attraction (including assessments around collision and impact, fire hazards, stability from crowding, evacuation, mooring and access for those with reduced mobility).

To set this work in context (and also to help identify any other tasks that would require to be tackled) Brookes Bell started with a full HAZID analysis of the vessel.

This particular sub-project lasted from September until December 2018 and the professional time was very generously donated by the firm, by way of corporate giving.

One of the outputs of the HAZID analysis was that the work required to understand fully the structure of the ship and – in turn – to identify what would need to be done to complete her restoration, was going to be much broader in scope than anyone could have anticipated.

By way of example, a trawl of various national archives (including the Denny Collection at the Greenwich Museum) had yielded only a handful of drawings, the vast majority of which were deemed to be of little use.

As you know, TS Queen Mary had been modified in several areas, and attempts to uncover even the most recent structural drawings of the work undertaken (both in the 1980s and 1990s) drew blanks.

By December of 2018 it was clear that Brookes Bell would essentially need to reverse engineer TS Queen Mary, in order to:

– Understand exactly the ship’s construction (including the material properties of her steel)
– Obtain an accurate thickness map of every single plate (none existed)
– Understand exactly what had been done to the ship (and how) in 1987 and 1997
– Create a suite of new drawings for the ship.

2019 started with cadets from Caledonian MacBrayne and ABs from Clyde Marine Services working alongside our regular volunteers, busily getting the lower deck cleared as fast as possible.

Over the course of January and February Brookes Bell planned and completed two big jobs viz. the full laser scanning of all of the ship’s internal spaces and the incline experiment.

During the incline Andy McGibbon had large IBCs filled with water, to known weights. The tanks were moved to various positions and the ship’s stability carefully measured. At the conclusion of the incline Brookes Bell were able to advise that we would need to instate 12 tonnes of water ballast in the lower hull (starboard side) to correct the ship’s slight port list.

By March, work had started on planning a return to Dales Marine (Garvel Clyde) in June. The dry docking itself was well documented on social media and our website; if you are interested you will find detailed information in previous posts.

Suffice to say now that a full dockyard specification was drawn up and an in-water pre-tow survey by A Adamson & Co was completed. The final job before going to dry dock was to lift several substantial areas of wooden timber on the lower deck, to facilitate access for inspection (with walkways left in all compartments).

During the dry docking, Brookes Bell and an independent third party surveyor were able to undertake a full visual structural survey of the ship’s hull. This included completing the laser scanning of the underwater hull.

Selman Marine had started the ultra-sonic thickness testing of the above waterline steelwork, whilst the ship was at Glasgow Science Centre. In dock they were able to test all of the below water-line areas.

Finally, the Charity was able to bring in various SMEs to inspect the ship in order to provide quotes for the completion of the restoration (e.g. new masts, H-VAC, electrics, plumbing and outfitting etc).

Once back at Glasgow Science Centre, Selman Marine completed the NDT testing of TS Queen Mary’s superstructure, whilst volunteers focused on keeping her neat and tidy.

In July, Andy McGibbon’s team turned their attention to processing the reams of data obtained during dry dock. The first milestone was completing a fully functional 3D model of the ship.

In due course we will have some images from the model to share with you, but for the moment the model is probably the most significant conservation tool that the Charity could have.

Among its many features, the model allows design teams to insert items like pipe runs and cable runs. It allows our naval architects to make very accurate measurements of the ship from within the model and – finally – it was pivotal in creating the new suite of drawings, including the new shell expansion drawing (the original having been lost in 1977).

The missing link in the chain was that no one knew the the exact composition of the TS Queen Mary’s steel. In order to be able to assess definitively both how weldable the steel would be and the longevity of welded repairs to the structure, this had to be established.

To that end, IPB Testing in Washington (England) took several samples of steel from across the ship and analysed them.

The yield was much better than expected, with Charpy values somewhere close to S275/355 J2 steel. We were able to establish the sulphur and phosphorous content of the steel (which lie within normal levels for steel of the period) and also its carbon content. The test results were sent to Brookes Bell’s Liverpool office for analysis and interpretation by an expert metallurgist.

Into Quarter 4, the Trustees spent a great deal of time meeting the SMEs that had attended dry dock, in order to create an accurate budget “to run”.

Brookes Bell by far had the harder task! However, by year end Andy McGibbon and his team had finished the pathway report (and its supporting appendices).

At 1,146 pages in total, you will understand why we said earlier that it represents the most thorough study of TS Queen Mary, since she was built.

In particular, the pathway report (57 pages) details:

– The proposed static use of TS Queen Mary
– Vessel construction and stability
– Fire protection
– Structural integrity
– Recommendations (for the delivery of the static restoration)

The appendices (594 pages) comprise:

– Proposed general arrangement
– Various vessel plans (including shell expansion, as noted)
– Lightship weight estimate
– Incline report
– Intact and damage stability analysis
– Floodable length curves
– Material certification
– Global strength check
– Plate thickness
– Scantling checks

On top of all of that there are 459 pages of NDT data!

As we start 2020, we now know everything that there is to know about TS Queen Mary. We finally have an empty ship and now a solid platform on which to take the project forward.

The next step will be detailed design, where drawings for final steel repairs will be created and a full interior design prepared.

After that, once funds are raised the final restoration work can be carried out in a yard and TS Queen Mary will be able re-open to the public.

Finally, in today’s pictures you can see TS Queen Mary fresh from being washed down by volunteers (lead by Captain Mark Yeomans and Crawford Paterson) and looking rather splendid!

Happy New Year from all of the Trustees of Friends of TS Queen Mary.