THE QE2 RAN AGROUND ON HER LAST DAY IN SOUTHAMPTON
Matt Dickinson reports today for the British PA:
The QE2 cruise ship ran aground as she came into her home port to make her final call, owner Cunard said today.
The BBC said the vessel touched the bottom at the Brambles sandbank near Calshot, Southampton, with three tugs attached to her stern.
A spokesman for Solent Coastguard said they were alerted to the 70,000-tonne ship being aground at the entrance of Southampton Water at 5.26am today.
Five tugs were sent out to assist her getting off the sandbank, he added, and she was pulled off just before 6.10am.
The spokesman said: "She has been refloated and is under way under her own power and heading back to her berth in Southampton."
He added: "She had only partially gone aground, and the tugs pulled her off."
Thousands of people are flocking to Southampton today to bid a fond farewell to the famous vessel before it leaves on its final voyage.
The Duke of Edinburgh is visiting the ship during her final day in port today, with aerial flypasts and a Remembrance Day ceremony involving the dropping of one million poppies also organised.
The ship was heading back to Southampton from a 15-night Mediterranean cruise, with a full complement of 1,700 passengers and 1,000 crew.
A Cunard spokesman said no-one had been injured during the grounding, and she was making her way back to Southampton after being pulled off.
He added: "No-one on board has been injured. A lot of people will have been in bed when it happened and not have noticed."
Solent coastguard said the winds were blowing from the south west at force seven, or 30mph, at the time of the grounding, with a moderate swell.
Police have urged those wanting to see the ship in port, launched by the Queen on the Clyde in 1967, to arrive early.
Prince Philip will be making his seventh visit to the QE2 which entered service with Cunard in 1969. The Queen made her final visit in June this year.
The Duke will be present for the Remembrance Day ceremony at 11am when a million poppies will be dropped from a Tiger Moth aircraft over the QE2.
After the two-minute silence, Prince Philip will meet QE2 crew members who travelled on the vessel when it was used as a troop ship in the Falklands War in 1982.
The Duke will tour the ship and will later present to the Mayor of Southampton a painting of the QE2 which was unveiled by the Queen during her visit this summer.
Prince Philip will also meet long-serving staff, as well as the former captains of HMS Ardent, Antelope and Coventry - ships that were lost in the Falklands campaign.
The Duke will also watch a flypast by a Harrier jet from the aft decks of QE2.
After the QE2 moves off this evening, she will stop for a time and a pre-recorded message from her master, Captain Ian McNaught, will be broadcast on a specially-erected screen in Southampton's Mayfair Park.
There will then be a firework display and the QE2, with whistle blasting, will move away from Southampton for the last time...
The final voyage to Dubai was sold out almost instantly, with the highest-priced berths going for more than £28,000.