Liner prepares for final voyage

The notorious Solent sandbank which has snared many a yacht’s keel has now claimed the luxury liner QE2 as one of its victims. The ship ran aground on the Brambles Bank before arriving at her home port of Southampton ahead of her final voyage.

Five tugs were sent to assist the 70,000 tonne liner after it hit a sandbank at the entrance to Southampton Water. Solent Coastguard said the ship was pulled off after about 30 minutes.

About 1,700 passengers and 1,000 crew were on board. Most had been asleep when the ship ran aground and no-one was hurt, owners Cunard said.

Spokesman Eric Flounders said: “She touched a sandbank called Brambles but with the tide rising she was able to get away.We are not aware at this stage of any damage to the vessel and everything is proceeding today as planned.’

A Force 7 south-westerly wind was blowing at the time.

Thousands of people are expected to line Southampton Water on Tuesday evening to wave the ship off as part of the the celebrations before it leaves for Dubai.The Duke of Edinburgh will lead the farewells, which include fireworks and a fly-past. The 40-year-old liner is being taken out of service next month and turned into a floating hotel.