The climax of Diamonds are Forever takes place on the cruiseliner RMS Queen Elizabeth. Built as a passenger cruise ship and launched in 1938, the ship was used during World War II as a troop transport before being refitted as an Ocean Liner following the war. This accounts for Bond’s thought:
Bond remembered the days when her course had been different, when she had zig-zagged deep into the South Atlantic as she played her game of hide-and-seek with the U-boat wolfpacks, en route for the flames of Europe.
Some other references in the narrative include:
But, as first Tiffany Case and then James Bond went into the mouth of the gangway, a dockhand from Anatasia’s Longshoremen’s Union had walked quickly to a phone booth in the customs shed.
I liked this reference, never really having considered the ramifications of it before. Anatasia was Albert Anastasia, who was one of the century’s most famous mob bosses. He also for a time had six local union chapters of the International Longshoremen’s Association in Brooklyn under his control. In the 1950’s the Waterfront Commission was set up to combat labor racketeering. It was said that the Gambino crime family, of which Anastasia was then the boss, controlled the New York waterfront.
It was a nice little touch by Fleming to include that detail, suggesting that the mob connections of the by then late (and fictional) Jack Spang had reached to the NY waterfront and that the boys of (real-life) Albert Anastasia were on the case.
The Queen Elizabeth was likely docked at Pier 90 of the Manhattan port, on what was known as Luxury Liner Row.
The scene that morning when Bond and Tiffany get on, might’ve looked similar to this.
Once the ship was ready to leave, they needed to navigate out of New York Harbor.
There would be a pause to drop the pilot at the Ambrose Light
Like the South Goodwin Lightship, Ambrose Light was a lightship used in this case, to mark the Ambrose channel. It was replaced in 1967 by a lightstation tower.
After reflection on the wartime activity, Bond continues.
It was still an adventure, but now the Queen, in her cocoon of protective radio impulses-her radar; her Loran, her echo-sounder-moved with the precautions of an oriental potentate among his bodyguards and outriders, and, so far as Bond was concerned, boredom and indigestion would be the only hazards of the voyage.
Loran is short for “LOng RAnge Navigation” a system developed as a secret project during WWII and contributed greatly to the Allied war efforts. (Video) Stations were quickly established all over the world, making it a robust, world-wide, proven system of ground stations, run by the US Coast Guard, that give vehicles equipped with LORAN receivers a fix – a known position at a certain time, which is critical to navigation.
We get a peek into the radio room, where signals are being composed and sent.
As the iron town loped easily along the broad Atlantic swell and the soft night wind thrummed and moaned in the masthead, the radio aerials were already transmitting the morse of the duty operator to the listening ear of Portishead.
From 1920 until it was shut down in 2000, Portishead was the most famous maritime radio station in the world.
We’ve already put up a post on the Metal Mike. (see below)
Other facts that we are given – Bond and Tiffany’s cabin were on M (Main) deck. W. Winter and B. Kitteridge had their shared cabin on A deck and they had an outside cabin as they had a window. Cabin number A49. Their cabin was First Class, as were Bond and Tiffany’s as well.
Bond’s cabin was conveniently located directly above the cabin of Mr. Winter and Mr. Kitteridge.
An eagle-eyed observer might figure out that cabin A49 on the Queen Elizabeth was actually an interior cabin, meaning no window.
John Griswold notes that the original manuscript of the novel had them in cabin B49 of the Queen Mary and the change in the ships may account for the seeming discrepancy.
James Bond makes a memorable entrance into the room of Wint and Kidd, surprising them by bursting through their open porthole