Author and Diver

Tag: qe2

Evolution of the definitive QE2 book 1985-2019


In 1985 the book ‘QE2’ written by my father Ronald W. Warwick and William H. Flayhart III was published by W.W. Norton. At that time my dad was chief officer of the QE2 and his American co-author was an established maritime historian. In the period before publication of the second edition in 1993 Warwick had become captain of the QE2, following in the footsteps of his father Commodore W.E. Warwick, the vessels first master. The updated book adopted the longer title ‘QE2: The Cunard Line Flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2’ and Warwick became sole author of the work. A third edition was published in 1999 but by the early 2000’s the popular book was no longer in print. Demand remained strong for a further edition which would document the final decade of the QE2’s service life, and which would also cover the prolonged period spent in Dubai before the QE2 Hotel finally welcomed paying guests in 2018.

In addition to extending the QE2’s rich and varied history, each subsequent edition also featured extensive revisions to the many photographs. This has helped maintain the book’s enduring popularity among QE2 aficionados and maritime history enthusiasts.

I am extremely proud and honoured that my father asked me to co-author the new edition with him and that this has given me the opportunity to contribute to my family’s long association with the QE2. By coincidence, when I published my first book in 2012, Shipwrecks of the Cunard Line, I was the same age my father was when ‘QE2’ was first published.

First Edition – 1985

Despite the QE2 having already become a renowned vessel the world over, no other books had been published about the ship since she entered service in 1969. The one book written to-date (QE2 Queen Elizabeth 2 the Authorised Story, Potter & Frost, 1969) ends with the maiden voyage in May 1969.

The first edition was published in full colour hardback. A mix-up with the publisher resulted in the cover for the initial print run unintentionally featuring the QE2 with blue boot-topping. The blue had been a brief departure from the traditional Cunard red and was employed for a brief period between 1978 and 1980 when a new anti-fouling paint was being evaluated. The cover illustration ultimately reverted to red, at the insistence of Cunard Line who often gave away complimentary copies of the book to passengers.

A special limited edition run of 1000 included a red slip case and numbered bookplate signed by Chief Officer Ronald Warwick.

Limited edition bookplate

The last recorded event in the first edition is the 1984 ‘Quintessential World Cruise’.

Title: QE2
Authors: Ronald W. Warwick and William H. Flayhart III
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Year: 1985
Pages: 176
ISBN: 0-393-01885-7
Foreword: HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Second Edition – 1993

Once again, a mistake by the publisher resulted in the cover of the book being printed incorrectly with the Roman numeral ‘II’ being used for the ships name instead of the Arabic ‘2’.

The last recorded event in the second edition is the November 1992 dry dock in Hamburg, Germany.

Title: QE2: The Cunard Line Flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2
Author: Captain Ronald W. Warwick
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Year: 1993
Pages: 224
ISBN: 0-393-03547-6
Foreword: John Olsen, Cunard Line CEO

Third Edition – 1999

QE2 3rd edition cover

The third edition culminates with the sale of Cunard Line to Carnival Corporation in 1998.

Title: QE2: The Cunard Line Flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2
Author: Captain Ronald W. Warwick
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Year: 1999
Pages: 224
ISBN: 0-393-04772-5
Foreword: Larry Pimentel, Cunard Line President & CEO

Fourth Edition – 2019

The publication of the new edition was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the QE2’s maiden voyage. An initial unofficial maiden voyage sailed from Southampton on 22 April 1969, being a short cruise to Las Palmas. The official maiden voyage was the first transatlantic crossing to New York which departed Southampton on 2 May 1969.

A special limited edition of 150 books was commissioned to be sold on board the ships of the Cunard Line fleet. Bound in leather, and bundled with extras including a bookmark and postcards, this edition also boasts a bookplate personally signed by Commodore R.W. Warwick.

Further information about the 2019 edition can be found at

Title: QE2: The Cunard Line Flagship, Queen Elizabeth 2
Authors: Commodore Ronald W. Warwick and Sam Warwick
Publisher: The History Press
Year: 2019
Pages: 216
ISBN: 0750989394
Foreword: Maureen Ryan, Ex Lady Assistant Purser and Social Hostess


The sea has always been a big part of my life. Although I have no memory of my first Atlantic crossing as a toddler on a banana boat, I still vividly remember my first crossing on the QE2 in 1975 at age seven. At that time my father, Ron Warwick, was the first officer. He would ultimately assume command of the QE2 himself, just as my grandfather Commodore ‘Bil’ Warwick had done before him. The Cunard Line has featured prominently throughout my own life and I have been fortunate to be able to sail on many of their vessels over the years.

In 1992 I sailed on a two-week Caribbean cruise on the Cunard Countess. One of the many tour excursions on offer in St Thomas was a dive in the Atlantis submarine. Although a keen swimmer since an early age, this was my first real glimpse of the underwater world. I enjoyed the diverse marine life in the clear blue waters, but what really caught my attention was the remains of a small wooden boat lying on the sandy seabed. Then to my amazement scuba divers appeared and proceeded to inspect the wreckage at close quarters. At that point I made an instant decision – I didn’t want to be among the noisy tourists crammed inside the submarine – I wanted to be a diver exploring the silent world outside. I wanted to see sunken shipwrecks for myself.

Within weeks of returning home to the UK I signed-up for a diving course with Newbury Sub-Aqua Club, a local branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). I completed my first open water dive the following March in cool waters off the Dorset coast. Just like my first voyage on the QE2, it is a memory that I can recall easily, and one which I will always treasure. I had been well and truly bitten by the scuba diving bug.

Aurania china

Cunard china from the wreck of the Aurania

Several years later, in June 1996, I found myself aboard the dive charter vessel Harry Slater on a club trip to the Sound of Mull. On the first day I was excited to learn that we would be diving on the wreck of the Aurania, a Cunard liner that ran aground off Mull after being torpedoed by UB 67 on 4 February 1918. Mid-way through the dive my buddy and I came across some shards of broken china, one of which was clearly marked
“Cunard Steamship Company Ltd”, along with the famous lion-rampant logo. I was holding Cunard Line history in my hands.

The immediate question that arose to me after the dive was “how many more Cunard wrecks can I dive on?”. This proved surprisingly difficult to answer, and which after many years of research ultimately led to writing Shipwrecks of the Cunard Line (2012) in collaboration with Mike Roussel. I have since had the pleasure of writing two further books with Mike; The Union-Castle Line – Sailing Like Clockwork (2015) and Shipwrecks of the P&O Line (2017). My most recent project marks a return to the Cunard Line as co-author with my father on the fourth edition of the acclaimed QE2 – The Cunard Line Flagship Queen Elizabeth 2 (2019).

Writing a blog is a new experience for me and it is too early to tell where it may lead. I hope this will become a platform for sharing stories, anecdotes and news based around maritime and diving themes.

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