Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Commodore Ronald W Warwick OBE FNI LLD


Commodore Warwick commenced his sea-going career at the age of 15 as a cadet at the pre-sea training ship HMS Conway in North Wales. He became an indentured apprentice two years later on the cargo ships of the Port Line whose principal area of trade was Australia and New Zealand. After obtaining his Second Mate’s Certificate in 1961, Commodore Warwick spent the next several years sailing with various companies to gain experience on different types of ships. It was during this time he served as Fourth Officer on the Royal Mail cruise liner RMS Andes and this experience left him with the desire to eventually specialize in passenger shipping.

In 1967 he became Chief Officer of a cargo ship, and by 1968 he had obtained his Master’s Ticket. A few years later, in 1970, he joined the Cunard Line and was appointed to the Carmania as a junior officer. He then went on to serve in various ranks on the Queen Elizabeth 2, Cunard Adventurer, Cunard Countess, Cunard Princess and Crown Dynasty. His first command was of the Cunard Princess when she was sailing in Alaskan waters in 1986.

He was Navigator on the first world cruise of the QE2 in 1975 and Chief Officer for a number of years, which included the period when the liner was requisitioned by the British Government for service in the Falkland Campaign.

Commodore Warwick first took command of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in July 1990, and was Master during the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of Cunard Line’s 150th anniversary celebrations at Spithead. At this point in his career he made Cunard Line history by sailing in command of the same ship as his father, the late Commodore William E Warwick CBE RD RNR who was the first Master of the QE2 before he retired from active service in 1972.

In June 1996, Commodore Warwick was appointed to the position of Marine Superintendent of the Cunard Line fleet. He then went on to take permanent command of the Queen Elizabeth 2 on 1st October 1997. One of Commodore Warwick’s most memorable events was solemnizing his daughter’s marriage on board the QE2 in Boston harbour on 04 October 2001. The ceremony was conducted in accordance with a special license issued by the Governor of the State of Massachusetts and thus became the first legal marriage in living memory carried out by a Cunard Master on board any of the company’s ships.

During his association with the QE2 he originated the first authoritative book about the liner which was published by W W Norton (New York & London) in 1985. The work was revised and updated by the Commodore in 1994 and again in 1999.

For the years 2002 and 2003, Commodore Warwick held the position of President of the annual Merchant Navy Memorial Service. The service is held every September at the Tower Hill memorial in London to honour all those merchant seafarers that lost their lives in times of conflict.

On 04 July 2002, at the keel laying of Queen Mary 2, he was appointed Master Designate of the new ship. At the same time he had the privilege of giving the first order to commence the assembly of Queen Mary 2 at the shipyard of Chantiers de l`Atlantique, France. After completing his 50th transit of the Panama Canal on the 11 January 2003, the Commodore was made an honorary pilot by the canal authorities. Shortly after in March, he paid off from the Queen Elizabeth 2 for the last time and went to France to become more involved with the construction of the Queen Mary 2. He was the first Master to take command of the new ship when she was handed over to Cunard Line on 22 December 2003 and was promoted to Commodore when the vessel arrived in her homeport of Southampton for the first time on 26 December 2003.

In February 2004, the Commodore received the Shipmaster of the Year award from the Nautical Institute and Lloyds List. This accolade was closely followed a few months later on the opposite side of the Atlantic. In New York, at a special function held on board the Queen Mary 2, the Commodore was presented with the prestigious Silver Riband Award by the Ocean Liner Council of the South Street Seaport Museum for his lifetime achievement in the maritime industry. In 2005 he was made an Officer of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Liverpool, awarded the Merchant Navy Medal and was elected a Honourary Fellow of the Institute of Transport Administration. In 2006 he was elected an Honourary Member of The Company of Master Mariners of Canada and in 2007 received the Honourary Degree of Doctor of Maritime Studies from Southampton Solent University.

Commodore Warwick is a Younger Brother of Trinity House, a member of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a founder member and Fellow of the Nautical Institute, Governor of the Marine Society, Patron of the Cunard Steamship Society, President of The Merchant Mariners, Life President of the Queen Mary Association, Honourary President of the ROL Cruise Club and Vice President of the Bristol Ship Society. The Commodore holds the rank of Honourary Captain in the British Royal Naval Reserve.

He has a son and a daughter and lives with his wife, Kim, in Somerset, England. His interests include property restoration, maritime history, genealogy and researching the history of Cunard Line captains since the company was founded in 1839. His interest in the Titanic lead to a visit in August 2001 by deep-sea submersible to the wreck which lies at a depth of two and a half miles below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The Commodore retired in July 2006 after spending over 48 years at sea of which 36 years were in the service of Cunard Line.