Completion of Queen Elizabeth had been delayed at John Brown’s yard, as essential workers were diverted to work for the Royal Navy. However the UK government was aware of German interest in the new liner, and were concerned at maintaining her security and safety. Space at the yard was now desperately needed for warships. Finally, although not completed internally, on 26th February 1940 Queen Elizabeth made her way down the Clyde, using one of the few high tides to help her. That evening she anchored off the Tail of the Bank, and on 28th February completed very brief sea trials, after which Cunard officially took delivery. News sources released a false story that the liner was due to head for Southampton, and apparently the Germans accepted this, and even carried out extra raids on the docks, hoping to catch her.
In the early hours of 2nd March 1940, an Admiralty messenger boarded Queen Elizabeth, anchored in the Clyde, carrying sealed orders. The day before Cunard had been formally notified that Queen Mary had been requisitioned, and now Queen Elizabeth was to join her. The orders were opened and soon after, with an escort of four destroyers plus air cover, she headed out into the Atlantic. The escorts couldn’t keep up and soon detached, and the new troopship raced across the Atlantic, using her speed on untested engines to evade submarines.
Queen Elizabeth arrived at Ambrose light vessel in the early morning of 7th March, and harbour tugs escorted her to Pier 90, where she joined Queen Mary, Mauretania and Aquitania, plus CGT’s Normandie and Île de France, and the Italian liner Rex. Once docked, the grey camouflage paint was touched up, supplies taken aboard and other preparations made for her coming war service.