Tycoon's dream of floating university

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 August, 2006, 12:00am

Plans to turn former Cunard Line flagship the Queen Elizabeth into a floating university were defeated when a blaze broke out on board in 1972 as she was being refitted in Hong Kong.

The inferno sunk the liner, whose wreck became an emblem of Victoria Harbour and was immortalised as the Hong Kong headquarters of MI5 in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Late shipping tycoon Tung Chao-yung lost HK$30 million on his plan to relaunch the liner as the SS Seawise University but his dream of a floating university did not end up on the seabed. He instead donated a smaller ship, The Atlantic, to American education foundation World Campus Afloat to stave off financial crisis and bankrolled its successor, the Institute for Shipboard Education.

The Atlantic, renamed the SS Universe, took thousands of university students around the world in 100 days for a semester of global studies over the following decades.