Commodore William Warwick, first Master of the QE2; born November 12, 1912, died February 27, 1999

The early days of the great Cunarder, the Clyde-built Queen Elizabeth II, were not happy. An acceptance trial which took the liner to the Canaries at the end of 1968 was less than triumphant, as it resulted in the then Cunard chairman, Sir Basil Smallpiece, flying out to investigate a series of problems, notably with the turbines.

As the #30m ship sailed at

half-speed for her home port of Southampton, a furious row broke out ashore as to who was responsible for the defects.

While union leaders and management on Clydeside sought to lay the blame on each other, MPs, concerned at the effect news of the ship's faults might have on future Clydeside orders, called for Government action to determine the cause of the breakdown and to pinpoint the reasons for the incomplete finishing work on cabins and public rooms.

In the end, Cunard did not officially accept the ship from Upper Clyde Shipbuilders until April, 1969, and it finally went on its maiden voyage proper the following month. Her master during this period, and until 1972, was William Eldon ''Bil'' (sic) Warwick, who was first appointed to the post in 1966 while the ship was still under construction, thus making sure that he knew his new command in every detail. Warwick, with his full, greying beard, certainly looked every inch the naval captain, and by the time he stepped onto the bridge of the QE2 he was vastly experienced. He was educated at Birkenhead School, and joined the Merchant Service in 1928, serving in the Indian Ocean and the Red

Sea. He was awarded his Master Mariner's Certificate in 1936 and joined Cunard White Star as a junior officer on board the Lancastria

in 1937.

Also in 1937, he was commissioned in the Royal Naval Reserve and, in 1939, he began war service which saw him on active sea duty first with coastal forces and corvettes in the North Atlantic, then on escort duties with the Russian convoys, and later taking part in the Normandy landings.

He was given his first cargo command in 1954, and his first passenger command, the Carinthia, in 1958, after which he had command of almost all the passenger liners in the Cunard fleet.

After the initial problems with the QE2, Warwick had three happier years as her master, welcoming

royalty, showbusiness personalities and statesmen on board as she established her reputation as the world's most luxurious cruise liner.

A ''simple sailor'', as he modestly described himself, he said his task on the QE2 was to ensure that the passengers enjoyed their voyage and wanted to come aboard again.

He described the ship as ''a real beauty'' and said of her after her first voyage of 13 miles from Brown's basin, Clydebank, to Inchgreen dockyard, Greenock, in November, 1968: ''She handled like a daisy, no flaps whatsoever. She behaved like a great ship.''

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and by three sons, one of whom, Ronald, is the current master of the QE2.